Weigh the Options: Cybersecurity Degree vs Bootcamp

Cybersecurity is one of the most lucrative, diverse and quickest growing fields. There are numerous high-demand career paths students can take such as computer forensics, logistics analyst, systems engineer, security systems administrator, security architect and so much more. According to Forbes, cyber jobs are expected to grow 31% through 2029 which is seven times faster than the national average. In the next five years, the cyber field will see a massive need for staff with skills in security, risk management, data privacy and security, cloud security and health information security.

One of the many questions future cybersecurity students wrestle with is “bootcamp or degree?” While there are advantages to both, bootcamps and degrees have some major differences that are worth exploring.

Cybersecurity Degree

Earning a degree in cybersecurity or a related cyber field is one of the best ways students can set themselves up for a successful future. Let’s explore some of the advantages of college cybersecurity courses. 

computer science class in jwu's cybersecurity lab

Dedicated Faculty

College and university courses are taught by experienced faculty that are invested in the success of their students. Faculty members have in-depth knowledge, experience working in the field and attend various courses and seminars to stay on top of emerging trends.

Deep Dive into Cybersecurity

Since there’s a longer commitment to a degree program than a bootcamp, students can dedicate more time to internships, mentorship programs, lab work and extracurricular programs related to cybersecurity. This enables students to truly immerse themselves in their program and campus and spend more time soaking in their studies. Bootcamps can be overwhelming due to the vast amount of material that is covered in only a few weeks or months.

Extracurriculars at JWU: Students on the HackJWU team consistently earn top awards at hackathons hosted by MLH every year. The Computer Science Competition Team and Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) are popular organizations among cybersecurity students.

Theoretical Knowledge

At bootcamps, students learn how to accomplish certain tasks, but students in a degree program also learn why. The emphasis placed on theoretical concepts puts students at a massive advantage when searching for cybersecurity careers because these concepts are critical when it comes to protecting computer data, software and hardware.

More Than Cybersecurity

Degree programs often teach students more than just their specialization. College and university courses are designed to assist students with life skills that make the transition from school to career much easier. Experiential learning bolsters students’ confidence by giving them the tools they need to communicate clearly and effectively. This is particularly important for cybersecurity grads when they enter the workforce because they’re able to confidently explain technical concepts when they’re in leadership roles or when communicating with different departments, stakeholders and management.

Take a Peek at Some of JWU’s Cybersecurity Courses

Cyber Threat Intelligence & Defense Bachelor’s Degree

  • Software Reverse Engineering
  • Computer and Network Forensics
  • Cyber Intelligence Programming Concepts
  • Network Security Intro to Operating Systems

Cyberthreat Intelligence & Defense

Cybersecurity Master’s Degree

  • Software Security Testing Hacking
  • Countermeasures and Techniques
  • Advanced Network Intrusion Detection and Analysis
  • Statistical Methods
  • Legal and Ethical Principles in IT
  • Digital/Computer Forensics and Investigation

Explore the M.S. in Cybersecurity

Explore JWU’s Cybersecurity Programs

What to Look for in a Cybersecurity Degree Program

Deciding on the right cybersecurity program doesn’t need to be overwhelming. We’ve narrowed down a few things to look for when choosing a college or university for your cybersecurity degree.


Internships are an excellent way to gain real-world experience, make new connections and build confidence for future employment. When browsing degree programs see what companies former students have interned at. Are they local? Is there an opportunity to travel? How long is the internship? Is it difficult to get an internship?

Where Wildcats Intern: JWU cybersecurity students have interned at distinguished companies including D2 Cybersecurity, Johnson & Johnson, Amica Mutual Insurance, SecureWorks and EMC2 Partners.

Internship Opportunities

Labs & Classrooms

Labs are a major component in any cybersecurity degree so it’s important to view photos, videos and read about the labs in your program of interest. Research what equipment is being used and if it’s up-to-date, how many labs are available and how often students work in the labs.

networking engineering lab at jwu


Did You Know: JWU has numerous labs including a state-of-the-art Computer Science Lab where students work on data science, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and more, and an Innovation Lab equipped with 3D printers, lasers, engravers, vinyl cutters, and micro mills.


Learning about alumni and exploring past alumni events can give you a better sense of what to expect upon graduation. Are there opportunities to network with alumni? Where do alumni in this program work now? Does the university offer alumni events?

Networking Nights at JWU: JWU has partnered with the Washington Center (TWC) to create a bridge between higher education and professional careers. On networking nights, students meet TWC alumni and hear from guest speakers who work in a variety of fields.

Awards & Honors

Research both the school and cybersecurity program. Do either have any awards or recognitions? Enrolling in a program that is widely-recognized will help you stand out when applying to careers in the cyber industry.

JWU’S Recent Recognition: The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security (NSA/DHS) have designated Johnson & Wales University as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE). This recognizes JWU as a leader in cybersecurity education!

Learn About JWU’s Cybersecurity Center 

Cybersecurity Bootcamp

There are numerous cybersecurity bootcamps across the country, ranging from beginner bootcamps that introduce security fundamentals and linux basics to advanced bootcamps that teach students how to program using python and prepare for advanced infrastructure attacks.

Types of Cybersecurity Bootcamps

Beginner students with little to no experience can enroll in a beginner cybersecurity bootcamp. In some cases, students may need to take a prep class if their skills need serious improvement.

Common Courses: Most beginner bootcamps teach linux basics, security fundamentals, risk management and ethical hacking.


Intermediate bootcamps are ideal for students who understand the foundation of cybersecurity including programming and networking.

Common Courses: Students usually learn how to conduct security audits, advanced SIEM and linux and ethical hacking.


Advanced cybersecurity bootcamps are designed for professionals who are already in this field and looking to expand their knowledge. Students who have acquired a bachelor of science in a similar field can also sign up for an advanced bootcamp to further their skills.

Common Courses: In an advanced bootcamp, students learn how to program using python, conduct penetration testing and prepare and handle advanced infrastructure attacks.

What to Look for in a Cybersecurity Bootcamp

Each bootcamp varies so it’s important to conduct extensive research. We’ve compiled a list of helpful things to look for when reviewing bootcamps (including some red flags).

Location: Similar to colleges and universities, bootcamps offer 100% remote learning, in-person or hybrid courses.

Schedule: Consider how much time you can dedicate to a bootcamp before registering. Bootcamps can range from a few weeks to several months, they can be part time or full time, self-paced or follow a rigorous schedule.

Testimonials/Reputation: When it comes to bootcamps, it’s crucial to thoroughly review third party sites for testimonials. You’ll want to pay attention to genuine student reviews and look for consistencies between reviews.

Real-world Experience: Will you be working in labs? Do they train you for a successful career? How much time will be focused on real-world simulations?

What to Avoid

No Negative Reviews: Keep in mind that even award-winning companies receive a negative review once and a while so if you find a bootcamp that only has positive reviews, they might not be legitimate.

Unrealistic Guarantees: Bootcamps that guarantee high income jobs upon graduation should be researched a bit further. Review external sites to ensure statistics are not inflated.

Hidden Fees: If a bootcamp is advertised as “free” the fine print might actually mention an income share agreement. This means that once you find a full-time job, the bootcamp will acquire some of your income to reimburse the program for classes. 

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