Admissions: Frequently Asked Questions

Admissions:
  •     SANS Overview

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

    • The SANS Institute (sans.org) is the most trusted and by far the largest source for information security training and security certification in the world. Established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization, its programs now reach more than 165,000 security professionals around the world. The SANS Institute's world-class faculty of instructor-practitioners range from auditors and network administrators to chief information security officers. At the heart of SANS are the many security practitioners in varied global organizations - from corporations to universities - working together to help the entire information security community. SANS also develops, maintains, and makes available at no cost, the largest collection of research documents about various aspects of information security, and it operates the Internet's early warning system, the Internet Storm Center.

      The SANS Technology Institute (sans.edu), a legal subsidiary of SANS founded in 2005, is a college that is accredited as an independent entity separate from the SANS Institute with its own Board of Directors, faculty, staff, and programs. Although the college's courses are built on SANS content, there are some important differences in taking a SANS course through the SANS Technology Institute (sans.edu) rather than through the SANS Institute (sans.org). First, students must apply and be accepted to a program. Admitted students must then register for courses and pay tuition through the college. 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 by the deadline listed on their syllabus. Because the SANS Technology Institute is regionally accredited and Title IV eligible, its programs meet requirements of most corporate tuition reimbursement programs.

    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 graduate certificate programs in Cybersecurity Engineering (Core), Cyber Defense Operations, Incident Response, Industrial Control Systems Security, and Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking, and an undergraduate certificate program in Applied Cybersecurity (ACS).

    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?

    • Although most coursework in the master's degree program can be completed online, there are 3 in-person requirements. These include a 24-hour Situation Response Practicum in which you'll join a team of students to respond to a major enterprise system threat, present your recommendations to a mock C-suite panel, and receive feedback from top STI faculty.

      Certificate students may complete their courses completely online or through a combination of live and online courses. The only exception is the accelerated 7-month option of the undergraduate certificate program, which must be completed entirely online. Learn more about our course delivery options.

      Most technical courses require a GIAC exam which students take through GIAC's testing partner Pearson VUE at proctored locations near where they live.

    How and where do 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.

      Students who attend a weeklong live event 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 our live and online courses. 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 online.

      We encourage you to evaluate free demonstrations of the OnDemand and vLive online learning options as you consider and explore our programs.

    Are there time limits to complete individual courses?

    • Most three-credit technical courses must be completed within 90 days from the start date. White papers, group projects, and presentations have completion timelines ranging from 24 hours to 120 days.

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

      We encourage you to connect with our admissions team to discuss details specific to programs you're interested in.

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

    • Each student's academic schedule operates on individual 12-month timeline 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 a dedicated student advisor.

    How are courses graded?

    • Course grades are determined by the grade received on the associated assessment. For courses with a GIAC exam as their assessment, students who pass the exam will earn a 'B' for the course and those who score in the top 20% of all test tackers will earn an 'A' in the course. For courses with a paper, group project or other non-GIAC assessment, grades are determined by the faculty member(s) for that course.

  •     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 that 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 requiring students to complete at least eight (8) credit hours of work each year, so that they will 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?

    • These programs are designed to be completed between 18-24 months. This timeline requires that 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.

    How long does it take to complete the undergraduate certificate program?

    • This program is offers two enrollment options, full-time and full-time accelerated.

      Full-Time: Students complete the program within 18 months and may take courses in-person, online, or in a combination of both.

      Full-time Accelerated: Students complete all components within seven months and must take courses are entirely online.

  •     Admissions Process and Transfer of Credit

    What are the requirements for admission?

    • 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.
      • 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).

      Applicants for the undergraduate certificate program are not required to have prior cyber security experience, but must meet the following requirements:

      • Have completed at least 48 college credits from a recognized college or university, or obtained the equivalent international education, with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.80.
      • Be at least 18 years old at the time of enrollment.
      • 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 and Undergraduate 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

    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?

    • Because the SANS Technology Institute is regionally accredited, tuition is eligible for most corporate tuition reimbursement plans. The SANS Technology Institute works with many third-party tuition reimbursement administrators, including EdAssist/EdLink, on behalf of their corporate clients. Please refer to your company's benefits policy for more details.

    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, US 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 Post 9/11 (Chapter 33) 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 Montgomery Bill (Chapter 30) benefits, pay their tuition themselves and the VA makes payments directly to the student veteran.

    What courses are eligible?

    • All distance modality courses taken as part of a graduate or undergraduate program are covered by the GI Bill®. Additionally, any live courses taken within Maryland are covered by the GI Bill®. Non-matriculated single courses are not eligible.

    What is full time equivalent?

    • Unlike at traditional higher education institutions, SANS Technology Institute students take courses one at a time. Our full-time rate with the VA is one credit per one month. Most of our courses in the undergraduate and graduate programs are full time.

    How does the housing stipend work?

    • Students using Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) benefits 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.

    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-20s or support F-1 student visas. Our certificate programs can be completed fully online. The master's degree program is completed through both in-person and online courses.

    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 program 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 contact us by email at info@sans.edu or call (301) 241-7665, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am - 8:00 pm ET.

Please take care to email info@sans.edu and not info@sans.org with questions regarding the graduate and undergraduate programs.