My students often ask me what is a good second major or minor to complement their cybersecurity degree. Depending on who the student is and what they want to use their degree for, my answer usually lands on six or seven other fields. Since my university does not have a major in Intelligence Studies, I don’t recommend it to my current students. However, if it did, it would certainly make the list.
Different Education Paths to Cybersecurity
The field of cybersecurity is full of many people who have taken different paths to get there. So what other educational pursuits can you make other than cybersecurity? I’ve found many paths.
1. Criminal Justice and/or Homeland Security
Criminal Justice and/or Homeland Security probably top the list based on most of my student’s desire to use their talents for the greater good of public service. In addition, there is just so much overlap between the two, be it forensics, financial crimes or CISA sectors.
2. Computer Science
Computer Science is a common answer from me just because of the options it can give you in the private sector if you have software development and cybersecurity backgrounds. The theme that you need to know how the tool is built before you can effective break it really makes sense when it comes to software. It is not critical to be successful in cybersecurity that you know how to write a program for every conceivable reason, but having that knowledge base can make you highly desirable in Silicon Valley.
Psychology is another great area of study for the cybersecurity major, just because of the amount of the subject that applies to victim behavior, threat actor profiling, and red team activities. Also an area is under researched in my opinion as a key element in reducing risk.
4. Management Information Systems and Data Analytics
Management Information Systems and Data Analytics have very real relationships to cybersecurity, especially in the areas of digital storage, web scraping via AI and open source intelligence. Some schools already combine the fields with cybersecurity and have created an Informatics major.
5. Media Arts and Game Design
Media Arts and Game Design is a unique recommendation. But if someone really has the desire to protect the gaming and entertainment industry from cybercrime and especially, intellectual property theft, it is good to have a solid knowledge base. We are fortunate to have a highly rated and respected media arts program.
6. Communications, Health Administration, and Computer Engineering
That is just a small sample of choices of dual majors or minors that could be useful in terms of resume content, but more importantly a solid secondary knowledge base. There are others such as Communications, Health Administration, and Computer Engineering that I have even suggested to my students in the past.
Cybersecurity as a Minor
The reverse holds true for all of the fields I listed: Cybersecurity is an excellent minor to complement all of the fields listed, especially Homeland Security and Computer Science. I have had phenomenal Computer Science students add a Cybersecurity minor their last year of school just to give them an edge in the job market and acquire some basic comprehension of the subject.
One final point, to show I am not exercising extreme bias towards four-year cybersecurity degrees as the only answer – industry certifications can go along with an existing degree of any kind, be it two year or four year, in an area such as General Studies can also be palatable for those who have a degree, but don’t want to go back to college. An astute recruiter will understand whether you have the right makeup to be molded into the model employee. Of course, intangibles such as being a veteran and holding a security clearance don’t hurt as well.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have other ideas, comments or questions. I am always happy to discuss.