Computer Science Master's Degree - Computer Security

Computer Security

Online Program Overview

Degree Level
Master's Degree
Total Credits
Fully Online
Contact Us
Minimum GPA
Qualifying Exam
GRE Required

The Computer Security track is intended for students who wish to develop state-of-the-art knowledge of computer and network security technologies. Security considerations pervade personal, corporate, military, governmental, and national infrastructure systems and networks. This track will help you develop leading-edge knowledge in security.

"I found the CVN experience convenient. It allowed my to fit my education around my cluttered work schedule and select study times when my mind was ready to absorb the challenging material."
Chuck Schulz, IBM

Admissions Requirements

Degree required for admission: Most candidates have completed an undergraduate degree in computer science. Applicants with degrees in other disciplines and a record of excellence are encouraged to apply; these applicants are required to have completed at least six prerequisites: 4 computer science courses covering the foundations of the field and 2 math courses. 

Examples of computer science courses would be courses offered through an undergraduate computer science program: Intro to Computer Science (COMS W1004 or COMS W1007), Advanced Programming (COMS W3157), Data Structures and Algorithms (COMS W3134 or W3137), which is a prerequisite for most of our graduate-level courses, or/and Discrete Math (COMS W3203).  For the math prereqs, students are encouraged to take linear algebra and differential equations. 

Please note that these must be taken at a university (can be online) and must be grade- and credit-bearing.  MOOCs such as courses on Coursera and edX do NOT meet this requirement. These courses are not offered here at Columbia Video Network, but may be taken at another online institution or your local university.  Work experience does not waive this requirement.

GPA required: Most students admitted have earned a grade point average above 3.5 (out of 4.0); a GPA of at least 3.3 is required. 

GRE requirements: General test required. A subject GRE test is not required but may be helpful in strengthening your application. 

Competence in English: If you have not earned a degree from an undergraduate or graduate institution in which the instructional language was English, you may be required to take the TOEFL/IELTS.

Other application requirements: 3 recommendation letters, transcripts, resume, and a personal-professional statement are required. All application requirements in the Graduate Application must be completed as specified in the application.  For answers to your most common admissions questions, please review our FAQ page here.

Students must complete at least 30 points of graduate coursework as outlined below.

1.  Security Track requires:

  •         Breadth courses
  •         Required Track courses (15 pts)

  •         Track Electives (6 pts)

  •         General Electives (6 pts)

2.  5 required courses (15 pts): COMS W4118 (OS), COMS W4156 (Adv. Software Engineering), COMS W4180 (Network Security), COMS W4187 (Security Architecture and Engineering), and either COMS W4261 (Introduction to Cryptography) or COMS E6185 (Intrusion Detection).

3.    2 elective courses (6 pts) selected from the list of Elective Track Courses; at least 1 of these courses must be a 6000-level CS course.

4.     1 general elective graduate CS course (3 pts), at 4000-level or above.

5.     Must have 6 points at the 6000-level, at least 3 of these 6000-level points must be selected from the list of Elective Track Courses.


Students must complete all core courses and selected electives for a total of 30 graduate points of academic work via CVN while maintaining a minimum grade point average of 2.7. All degree requirements must be completed within 5 years of the beginning of the first course credited toward the degree. This includes courses taken in the non-degree program.


Course List

For the most up-to-date course information, visit the CS Computer Security page.

Breadth Requirement

All students must complete the Breadth Requirement. Visit the breadth requirement page for a list of courses.

Required Track Courses

Candidates are required to complete the following courses:

  • COMS W4118: Operating Systems
  • COMS W4156: Advanced Software Engineering
  • COMS W4181: Computer Security I
  • COMS W4182: Computer Security II
  • COMS W4187: Security Architecture and Engineering
  • COMS W4261: Introduction to Cryptography or COMS E6185: Intrusion Detection

Elective Track Courses

Students are required to complete 2 courses out of the following list; at least one course must be 6000-level.

  • COMS W4115: Programming Languages and Translators
  • CSEE W4119: Computer Networks
  • COMS W4186: Malware Analysis & Reverse Engineering
  • COMS W4261: Introduction to Cryptography
  • COMS W4995: Visit the topics courses page to see which apply for this track
  • COMS E6118: Operating Systems II
  • COMS E6181: Advanced Internet Services
  • COMS W6183: Security
  • COMS E6184: Privacy and Anonymity
  • COMS E6185: Intrusion and Anomaly Detection Systems
  • COMS E6261: Advanced Cryptography
  • COMS E6424: Hardware Security
  • COMS E6901: Projects in Computer Science
  • COMS E6998: Visit the topics courses page to see which apply for this track
  • ELEN E4703: Wireless Communications
  • ELEN E6761: Computer Communication Networks
  • ELEN E6886: Topics in Multimedia Security
  • ELEN E6950: Wireless & Mobile Nets, I
  • ELEN E6951: Wireless & Mobile Nets, II

General Electives

Candidates are required to complete at least 1 Computer Science graduate-level course. Students may take up to 3 points of non-CS/non-track course approved by the advisor. Please complete a non-track approval form, get your advisor’s approval, and forward it to the CS Student Services.

**Due to a significant overlap in course material, MS students not in the Machine Learning track can only take 1 of the following courses – COMS 4771, COMS 4721, ELEN 4903, IEOR 4525, STAT 4240, STAT 4400/4241/5241 – as part of their degree requirements.

Tuition & Fees

2022 - 2023 Tuition & Fees

Please note that all tuition and fees are in U.S. dollars and are estimated. Tuition and most fees are prescribed by statute, and are subject to change at the discretion of the Trustees.

CVN Credit Tuition: $2,362 per point (Credit Hour)
CVN Fee: $395 non-refundable fee per course
Transcript Fee: $105 non-refundable one-time fee
Tuition Deposit: $1000 (More information on our Resources page)

Estimated cost of one nondegree course: $7,586
Estimated total cost of certification (four courses): $30,029.00

Estimated total cost of MS (ten courses): $74,915.00
*Estimated total cost of DES (ten courses plus a minimum of 12 research credits): $104,049.00

Graduate Admission Application Fee: $150 non-refundable one-time fee
Certification Program Application Fee: $150 non-refundable one-time fee

Late Registration Fee: $100 non-refundable fee

CVN Withdrawal Fee: $75, plus prorated tuition and all non-refundable fees
For example: A three-credit course would be $7,086 + transcript fee $105 (one-time) + CVN fee $395 = $7,586

*Assumes DES student enrolls in two six-credit research courses.

For Drop/Withdrawal fees and dates, refer to the Academic Calendar for the current term.

Please note: CVN no longer offers courses for audit.


Payment should be mailed to:

Columbia University
Student Account Payments
P.O. Box 1385
New York, NY 10008-1385

Before you mail your check or money order, please take careful note of the following requirements to ensure the timely processing of your payment:


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