Graduate Admissions: Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate Admissions:
  •     SANS Overview

    What is the difference between SANS Institute and the SANS Technology Institute?

    • The SANS Institute (sans.org) is the oldest and by far the largest and most trusted research and cybersecurity training organization in the world. Since 1989, the SANS Institute has trained over 100,000 information security professionals, including the leaders of cybersecurity for the biggest and most important government agencies, defense institutions, and commercial entities from the world's largest banks and technology companies to healthcare organizations and power companies.

      The SANS Technology Institute (sans.edu), founded in 2005, is a legal subsidiary of SANS that is accredited as an independent entity separate from the larger organization with its own Board of Directors, Faculty, staff, and programs. Although graduate school courses are built on SANS content, there are some important differences in taking a SANS training class through the SANS Technology Institute (sans.edu) rather than through SANS Institute (sans.org). First, students must apply (and be accepted) to a graduate program. Admitted students must then register for courses (and pay tuition) through the graduate school. Once registered, students are given a syllabus for their upcoming course which details course requirements and deadlines. In order to pass a course (and earn a letter grade), students must complete all required course components listed in the syllabus within by the deadline listed on their syllabus.

    What degrees are offered by the SANS Technology Institute?

    • The SANS Technology Institute is authorized to grant a Master of Science degree in Information Security Engineering (MSISE). Additionally, the school offers and graduate certificate programs in Cybersecurity Engineering (Core), Cyber Defense Operations, Incident Response, and Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking. A fifth graduate certificate program, Industrial Controls, will launch in fall 2018.

    Is the SANS Technology Institute accredited?

    • Yes, the SANS Technology Institute is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. You can read more about our accreditation here.

  •     Course Delivery

    Are courses taken live in classrooms, online, or both?

    • While most courses can be taken through an online modality, master's degree students will have some in-person requirements for their program. Graduate certificate students may complete their courses completely online or via a combination of live and online modalities.

      For technical courses that require a GIAC exam, students take these through Pearson VUE at proctored locations near where they live.

    How and where do graduate students get live classroom instruction?

    • The SANS Institute conducts more than 200 events ("Residential Institutes") at locations held throughout the world. You can view a list of all locations here.

      When a graduate student attends a week long live event, he/she will continue to work on the associated exam, research paper or project, until the course requirements are completed.

    How do the online classes compare to those at the live events?

    • SANS' rigorous ratings and feedback system confirms that we maintain a superior student experience and consistently high levels of student satisfaction in all modalities. Research has proven, there are no statistically significant differences in the tested learning outcomes of students who take our courses in a live setting versus those who take them through an online modality.

      We encourage you to evaluate free demonstrations of OnDemand and vLive as you consider and explore graduate school programs.

    Are there time limits to complete individual courses?

    • Three credit courses must be completed within 90 days from the start date. White papers, group projects, and presentations have completion timelines ranging from 30 days to 90 days.

      Upon admission to a program, students receive an academic plan that will outline the course requirements and all the associated timelines.

    Are there semesters and trimesters, or is the program 'open enrollment'?

    • Students operate on individual 12-month timelines based on when the student is admitted. The first 12-months in a program constitute an individual's first year. Courses are taken throughout the year based on the academic plan each student creates with their assigned student advisor.

  •     Program Completion Timelines

    How long does it take to complete the master's degree program?

    • The program is designed to take three years, on average, to complete. This timeline requires students take approximately 12-14 credits per year while committing about 10 hours per week to their studies, when enrolled in a course. Over time, participation in the program is subject to a Satisfactory Academic Progress policy that requires students to complete at least eight (8) credit hours of work each year, consistent with the requirement that students complete the program within a maximum five years from the date of their matriculation.

    How long does it take to complete a graduate certificate program?

    • Certificate programs are designed to be completed between 18-24 months. This timeline requires students take approximately two courses per year while committing about 10 hours per week to their studies, when enrolled in a course. Over time, participation in the program is subject to a Satisfactory Academic Progress policy that requires students to complete all graduate certificate coursework within 30 months from the date of their matriculation.

  •     Admissions Process and Transfer of Credit

    What are the requirements for admissions?

    • Applicants for the master's degree or a graduate certificate program must meet the following requirements:
      • Hold a bachelor's degree with at least a 2.8 GPA
      • Have a minimum of 12 months of work experience related to information technology, information security, or audit.
      • Must be currently employed in an information technology, information security, or audit position.
      • The master's program requires excellent written and oral communications skills, so you must either be a native English speaker or be able to meet the requirements for non-native English speakers (see non-US citizens and non-native English speakers section).

    What is the Application Fee?

    • The application fee is required to complete your application and is non-refundable. Applicants may pay online through our payment suite or by check/money order or credit card by calling 301.654.7267.

      Master's degree: $100.00
      Graduate Certificates: $35.00

    Do SANS Institute classes and GIAC exams I've taken in the past apply to the program?

    Once admitted, how quickly do I need to start the program?

    • Within sixty days of matriculation, a new student must attend New Student Orientation, meet with their assigned student advisor, and register for their first course.

  •     Tuition and Funding

    What is the current cost per credit hour?

    What is the total cost of the program?

    How do I pay for the program?

    • Cost of tuition is due, in full, at the beginning of each course unless you meet the requirements to enroll in our tuition payment plan. Details on the tuition payment plan can be found on our tuition and funding page.

    Can I utilize my company's tuition reimbursement benefit?

    • The SANS Technology Institute is regionally accredited, and this status typically qualifies our programs for inclusion in corporate tuition reimbursement plans. However, each company's policies and practices are different, and you should check with your company's HR department or other authoritative source to determine if you would be eligible for tuition reimbursement once enrolled in our master's program.

    Can I apply for and use federal student loans to pay for my education?

    • No, the SANS Technology Institute does not participate in any federal/Title IV student aid or loan programs.

    Can I use a SANS Voucher Account for graduate course tuition?

    • Please contact the Office of Admissions (info@sans.edu) for information regarding voucher eligibility.

    Does tuition include cost of exam?

    • Yes, tuition includes all course components, include the cost of the final exam and any books or labs associated with each course.

    Can I participate in SANS Work Study?

    • No, the SANS Work Study Program is a popular and competitive method of SANS training which allows a selected applicant the opportunity to attend a live training event as a facilitator at a highly discounted tuition rate. Graduate students are unable to participate in the Work Study Program for course credit.

    Is tuition eligible for SANS promotions?

    • No, course tuition is ineligible for promotional offers or discounts offered by SANS.

    Are scholarships or financial aid available?

    • The SANS Technology Institute does not provide scholarships. However, we are an eligible non-participating Title IV institution. This means that students may use 529 Educational Funds within many additional US states and all courses and programs now qualify for US government tax credits worth up to $2,500 per year. Additional corporate tuition reimbursement programs may also be eligible to use for SANS Technology Institute courses.

      Additionally, U.S. citizens in the master's degree program are eligible to enroll in the zero interest, zero fee tuition payment plan. Details can be found on our tuition and funding page.

  •     GI Bill® Benefits

    Can I utilize 'GI Bill®' funds to pay for my education?

    • Yes, the SANS Technology Institute is approved to accept and certify veterans for educational benefits, including the GI Bill®. You can find more information on our student veterans webpage.

    How are your benefits distributed?

    • For students using Chapter 33 (Post 9/11) benefits, payments for tuition are made directly to the school, while the housing stipend is paid directly to the student. Students who use other chapters of benefits, including Chapter 30 Montgomery Bill benefits, pay their tuition themselves and the VA makes payments directly to the student veteran.

    What courses are eligible?

    • All distance modality graduate courses taken as part of a program (graduate certificate or master's degree) are covered by GI Bill®. Additionally, any live course taken within Maryland are covered by the GI Bill®. Non-matriculated single courses are not eligible.

    What is full time equivalent?

    • Unlike other traditional higher education institutions, students take graduate courses one at a time. Our full-time rate with the VA is one credit per one month. Most of our courses are three credits, taken over three months, and thus are full time.

    How does the housing stipend work?

    • Students using Chapter 33 (Post 9/11) will receive the distance housing allowance rate for any distance modality courses. Students attending a live event within Maryland will receive the in-person housing allowance, for the entire 3-month course term.

    How does the Forever GI Bill® work?

    Additional resources for veterans can be found on our student veterans webpage.

  •     Non-US citizens and non-native English speakers

    Do I need to be an American citizen in order to apply to the SANS Technology Institute?

    • We are an international program, so you do not need to be an American citizen nor do you need security clearance. We welcome students from all over the world. Although based in Maryland, the SANS Technology Institute's programs will serve students in all states and many countries around the world.

    How do I qualify for a student visa?

    • The SANS Technology Institute is a non-residential program. At this time, we do not issue I-20's or support F-1 student visas. Our certificate programs can be completed fully at a distance. The master's degree program is completed through both in-person and distance-learning modalities.

    How do I present non-US Transcripts for an application?

    • When presenting a non-US transcript for admissions, candidates must first have their transcripts evaluated by World Education Services before completing their submission to the SANS Technology Institute.

    What if English is not my Native Language?

    • Admission to the master's degree programs at the SANS Technology Institute requires that applicants are not merely proficient, but fluent, in standard written and spoken English. Certain courses include long-form research papers - written and graded in English - and public, oral presentations.

      To ensure a successful academic experience at the SANS Technology Institute, international applicants are required to demonstrate that they are proficient in the English language by submitting scores from either the TOEFL or IELTS.

    Do I need to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score?

    • The TOEFL or IELTS is required for applicants whose native language is not English. You can view details, including minimum score requirements on our international student requirements webpage.


If you are unable to find an answer to a question, please inquire via email to info@sans.edu