Cyber Security Master's Degree

Join the Next Generation of Cybersecurity Leaders

Designed for working professionals in information security and IT, the SANS.edu Master of Science in Information Security Engineering (MSISE)
develops both hands-on technical skills and the ability to lead.

Format Option: A 100% online option is available
Credits: 36
GIAC Certifications: 9
Duration: 3 – 5 years
Total Program Cost: $49,500

The SANS.edu Advantage

Prepare to lead in a career-focused cybersecurity master’s degree program that develops both hands-on technical expertise and leadership skills.

GIAC Certifications

Earn 9 industry-recognized GIAC cybersecurity certifications.


World-class Faculty

Learn the latest skills and techniques from the world's top cybersecurity practitioners.


Powerful Network

Make connections with some of the most talented students and teachers in the industry.


Flexible Schedule

Our programs are designed to fit into your busy life and work schedule.


100% Online Option

You have the option of completing the program through live or rewindable online courses.


SANS.edu Academic Pricing

Get SANS.edu academic pricing on SANS courses and GIAC certifications.


“I pursued the master's degree out of delight in studying the technical side of things, but time and again the focus of the program on communication, presentation, and leadership has been on point and much needed." - Tim Collyer, Director of Information Security, Motorola Solutions


Join us for a free online info session to learn more.


Designed for Working Professionals

The master’s degree program is designed to be completed while you work full time, applying the cyber security concepts and technical skills you learn in class on the job. To help you balance work, school, and life, we offer a variety of course delivery options — including a 100% online option — and personalized support from a student advisor from start to finish.


Earn 9 GIAC Certifications

As you complete the program, you’ll earn 9 industry-recognized GIAC certifications, and be set up to sit for the GIAC Security Expert (GSE) lab whenever you’re ready after graduation.


Gain Depth of Knowledge

Build your professional reputation by contributing to our collection of peer-reviewed graduate student research papers, considered for publication in the SANS Reading Room and industry journals.


“I receive compliments from senior leadership when I present — all directly related to feedback I received from my SANS faculty research advisors. When SANS.edu advertises that the program changes careers, this is a concrete example — it's the best graduate program on the planet.” - Jim Horwath, Director of Security Engineering, Guardian Life

Curriculum | 36 credit hours

The core of the cybersecurity master's degree curriculum is a carefully designed sequence of hands-on technical courses, management courses with leadership experiences, student-designed research, presentation opportunities, and a capstone.

Our faculty has designed a system of 4 “blocks” to provide the optimal developmental pathway through the courses. In this structure, all course prerequisites are included in prior blocks.

Block 1 | 9 credit hours

The master’s curriculum begins with the development of baseline skills for individual practitioners, including the technical and management foundational skills covered in the GSEC, GCIH, and GSTRT certification exams.

  • SANS Course: SEC401: Security Essentials - Network, Endpoint, and Cloud
    Certification: GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 5101 is the introductory, technically-oriented survey course in the information security engineering master's program. It establishes the foundations for designing, building, maintaining and assessing security functions at the end-user, network and enterprise levels of an organization. The faculty instruction, readings, lab exercises, and exam are coordinated to introduce and develop the core technical, management, and enterprise-level capabilities that will be developed throughout the information security engineering master's program.

  • SANS Course: SEC504: Hacker Tools, Techniques, and Incident Handling
    Certification: GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)

    3 Credit Hours

    By adopting the viewpoint of a hacker, ISE 5201 provides an in-depth focus into the critical activity of incident handling. Students are taught how to manage intrusions by first looking at the techniques used by attackers to exploit a system. Students learn responses to those techniques, which can be adopted within the framework of the incident handling process to handle attacks in an organized way. The faculty instruction, lab exercises, and exam are coordinated to develop and test a student's ability to utilize the core capabilities required for incident handling.

  • SANS Course: MGT514: Security Strategic Planning, Policy, and Leadership
    Certification: GIAC Strategic Planning, Policy, and Leadership (GSTRT)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 5601 gives you tools to become a security business leader who can build and execute strategic plans that resonate with other business executives, create effective information security policy, and develop management and leadership skills to better lead, inspire, and motivate your teams. The course will help you to develop strategic plans, create effective information security policy, and develop management and leadership skills using case studies from Harvard Business School, case scenarios, team-based exercises, and discussions that put you in real-world situations.

Block 2 | 9 credit hours

You’ll move onto more intermediary skills in Block 2, applying and synthesizing your knowledge at the organizational level, including skills required for the GDSA, GCIA, and SSAP exams. The first half of the program concludes with a hands-on group project and the Core Comprehensive Exam, which ensures you have mastered foundational skills before moving onto more advanced coursework.

  • SANS Course: SEC530: Defensible Security Architecture and Engineering
    Certification: GIAC Defensible Security Architecture (GDSA)

    3 Credit Hours

    Effective security requires a balance between detection, prevention, and response capabilities. Defensible Security Architecture and Engineering is designed to help you establish and maintain a holistic and layered approach to security. You’ll explore the fundamentals of up-to-date defensible security architecture and how to engineer it, with a heavy focus on leveraging current infrastructure (and investment), including switches, routers, and firewalls. You’ll learn how to reconfigure these devices to significantly improve your organization’s prevention capabilities in the face of today's dynamic threat landscape. The course will also delve into the latest technologies and their capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Multiple hands-on labs will reinforce key points in the course and provide actionable skills you will be able to leverage immediately at work.

  • SANS Course: MGT433: Managing Human Risk: Mature Security Awareness Programs
    Certification: SANS Security Awareness Professional (SSAP)

    1 Credit Hours

    From phishing attacks and credential stuffing to lost devices or auto-complete in email, human risk has become the primary risk for most organizations. One of the most effective ways for an organization to manage its human risk is to build on their existing technical controls with a mature security awareness program. The program must go beyond just compliance and change organizational behaviors and ultimately, culture. In ISE 5300, you will learn the key concepts and skills to plan, maintain, and measure an effective security awareness program that makes an organization both more secure and compliant. Through a series of labs and exercises, you will develop your security awareness plan and also complete the SSAP exam.

  • SANS Course: SEC503: Intrusion Detection In-Depth
    Certification: GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 5401 delivers the technical knowledge, insight, and hands-on training you need to defend your network with confidence. You will learn about the underlying theory of TCP/IP and the most used application protocols, such as DNS and HTTP, so that you can intelligently examine network traffic for signs of an intrusion. You will get plenty of practice learning to master different open source tools like tcpdump, Wireshark, Snort, Bro, tshark, and SiLK. Daily hands-on exercises suitable for all experience levels reinforce the course book material so that you can transfer knowledge to execution.

  • Assessment: Written report
    1 Credit Hour

    In ISE 5701, you and a small group of students will learn and be assessed on your ability to come together as a team, evaluate a situation, develop a response, and prepare recommendations for decision to a C-Level audience within forty-five (45) days. You will be put into a small group with other students and presented with an information security topic prompt. Your group will prepare a plan for researching and reporting on the assignment. Once the plan is prepared, the group will execute the plan, adjusting as necessary, to develop a report of the research completed and recommended actions.

  • 1 Credit Hour

    The Core Comprehensive Exam tests your mastery of the core technical skills required by top security consultants and individual practitioners. Through a series of exercises, you’ll demonstrate your ability to integrate the knowledge, skills, and techniques acquired in ISE 5101, ISE 5201, and ISE 5401 to address common challenges faced by technical leaders in the cybersecurity field.

Block 3 | 12 credit hours

In Block 3, you’ll dive into more specialized topics by taking your final management course (GCPM) and 3 elective classes. You can choose to do an optional Special Focus Area and may choose to take up to 2 additional electives.
  • SANS Course: MGT525: IT Project Management, Effective Communication, and PMP® Exam Prep
    Certification: GIAC Certified Project Manager (GCPM)

    3 Credit Hours

    In ISE 5800 you will learn how to improve your project planning methodology and project task scheduling to get the most out of your critical IT resources. The course utilizes project case studies that highlight information technology services as deliverables. ISE 5800 follows the basic project management structure from the PMP® Guide 5th edition and also provides specific techniques for success with information assurance initiatives. All aspects of IT project management are covered — from initiating and planning projects through managing cost, time, and quality while your project is active, to completing, closing, and documenting as your project finishes.

  • 3 Credit Hours

    In Block 3, you’ll choose 3 different technical courses from those listed in the “Elective Courses and Special Focus Areas” section below. You can take a generalist approach and select any 3 electives or choose electives within one of our optional Special Focus Areas.

  • 3 Credit Hours

    In Block 3, you’ll choose 3 different technical courses from those listed in the “Elective Courses and Special Focus Areas” section below. You can take a generalist approach and select any 3 electives or choose electives within one of our optional Special Focus Areas.

  • 3 Credit Hours

    In Block 3, you’ll choose 3 different technical courses from those listed in the “Elective Courses and Special Focus Areas” section below. You can take a generalist approach and select any 3 electives or choose electives within one of our optional Special Focus Areas.

Block 4 | 6 credit hours

Block 4 is a year of culminating practicums where you will integrate all foundational and specialized skills learned in the program. You’ll hone your skills in NetWars Continuous, contribute to the cybersecurity community through a unique research project of your own design, and demonstrate executive-level communication in a hand-on group project. The program concludes with the GSE entrance exam, so you’ll be poised to challenge the GSE lab whenever you’re ready after graduation.
  • 1 Credit Hour

    NetWars Continuous is an online training program that guides you through hands-on lessons to locate vulnerabilities, exploit diverse machines, and analyze systems. NetWars provides a forum to test and perfect cyber security skills in a manner that is legal and ethical. You will face challenges derived from real-world environments and actual attacks that businesses, governments, and military organizations must deal with every day.

  • 3 Credit Hours

    ISE 5901 is an advanced graduate-level research and presentation course in which you will identify, investigate and analyze a problem. You will write a research paper interpreting the data collected and making recommendations for action. The paper will reflect original work towards a new practice, solution, tool, policy, or paradigm offering the potential for real impact in the field of information security. You will then convert written material to an oral webinar presentation in order to inform a technical audience about the topic.

  • Assessment: Oral Presentation, Writing Exercise
    1 Credit Hour

    In ISE 6101, you and a small group of students will learn and be assessed on your ability to come together as a team, evaluate a situation, demonstrate leadership, develop a response, and prepare and present recommendations for a decision to a C-Level audience within 24-hours. This course builds on what you have learned in other courses and allows you to apply that knowledge. You will be put into a small group with other students and presented with an information security topic prompt. Working as a group, you will analyze the situation, develop a technical response, and establish recommendations for an organizational response to the situation presented. After your team develops a recommended response, the group will provide written and oral reports of recommendations for action to a mixed technical/non-technical audience of executives for decision.

  • 1 Credit Hour

    The master’s degree capstone determines if you have mastered the wide variety of skills required by top security consultants and individual practitioners. Through a series of exercises, you will demonstrate your ability to integrate the knowledge, skills, and techniques acquired in individual courses into a cohesive toolset to address common challenges faced by technical leaders in the cybersecurity field. You will complete the GSE entrance exam (Part 1), so you’ll be poised to challenge the GSE lab (Part 2) whenever you’re ready after graduation.

Elective Courses and Special Focus Areas

In Block 3, students in the master’s degree program choose 3 different technical courses from those listed below. Each elective course is 3 credit hours and has a course term of 3 months.

As a degree candidate, you can choose from two options:

  1. Take a generalist approach and select any 3 electives below, or
  2. Choose electives within one of our six optional Special Focus Areas highlighted below, to deepen your expertise in a specialized area of information security


  • SANS Course: SEC566: Implementing and Auditing CIS Critical Controls
    Certification: GIAC Critical Controls Certification (GCCC)

    3 Credit Hours

    Cybersecurity attacks are increasing and evolving so rapidly that is more difficult than ever to prevent and defend against them. ISE 6001 will help you to ensure that your organization has an effective method in place to detect, thwart, and monitor external and internal threats to prevent security breaches. As threats evolve, an organization's security should too. Standards based implementation takes a prioritized, risk-based approach to security and shows you how standardized controls are the best way to block known attacks and mitigate damage from successful attacks.

  • SANS Course: SEC555: SIEM with Tactical Analytics
    Certification: GIAC Certified Detection Analyst (GCDA)

    3 Credit Hours

    These days, it’s easy for security operations to get lost in data saturation. Designed to demystify the Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) architecture and process, this lab heavy course is focused on achieving actionable intelligence from data. To provide hands-on experience, the course navigates students through the steps of tailoring and deploying a SIEM to full Security Operations Center (SOC) integration using SOF-ELK, a SANS sponsored free SIEM solution. Throughout the course, the text and labs will not only show how to manually extract actionable intelligence from log data, correlate the data and gather input into useable formats, and start investigating based on the aggregate data to detect sophisticated intrusions, but how to automate many of these processes.

  • SANS Course: SEC522: Application Security: Securing Web Applications, APIs, and Microservices
    Certification: GIAC Certified Web Application Defender (GWEB)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6615 covers the OWASP Top 10 and provides students with a better understanding of web application vulnerabilities, enabling them to properly defend organizational web assets. Mitigation strategies from an infrastructure, architecture, and coding perspective are discussed alongside real-world implementations that really work. The testing aspect of vulnerabilities is also covered so students can ensure their application is tested for the vulnerabilities discussed in class.

Cloud Security | Special Focus Area (Optional)

To pursue this Special Focus Area, select three from the following courses.

  • SANS Course: SEC488: Cloud Security Essentials
    Certification: GIAC Cloud Security Essentials (GCLD)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6610: Cloud Security Essentials will equip you to implement appropriate security controls in the cloud, often using automation to "inspect what you expect." Mature cloud service providers (CSPs) have created a variety of security services that can help customers use their products in a more secure manner, but much about cloud security still resides with the customer organization. This course covers real-world lessons using security services created by the CSPs as well as open-source tools. Each lesson features hands-on lab exercises to help you practice the lessons learned. You will progressively layer multiple security controls in order to end the course with a functional security architecture implemented in the cloud. The course begins by addressing one of the most crucial aspects of the cloud — Identity and Access Management (IAM). From there, you will learn to secure the cloud through discussion and practical, hands-on exercises related to several key topics to defend various cloud workloads operating in the different CSP models of: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

    You will be able to:

    • Identify the risks and risk control ownership based on the deployment models and service delivery models of the various products offered by cloud service providers (CSPs)
    • Evaluate the trustworthiness of CSPs based on their security documentation, service features, third-party attestations, and position in the global cloud ecosystem
    • Create accounts and use the services of any one the leading CSPs and be comfortable with the self-service nature of the public cloud, including finding documentation, tutorials, pricing, and security features
    • Articulate the business and security implications of a multi-cloud strategy
    • Secure access to the consoles used to access the CSP environments
    • Use command line interfaces to query assets and identities in the cloud environment
    • Use hardening benchmarks, patching, and configuration management to achieve and maintain an engineered state of security for the cloud environment
    • Evaluate the logging services of various CSPs and use those logs to provide the necessary accountability for events that occur in the cloud environment
    • Configure the command line interface (CLI) and properly protect the access keys to minimize the risk of compromised credentials
    • Use basic Bash and Python scripts to automate tasks in the cloud
    • Implement network security controls that are native to both AWS and Azure
    • Employ an architectural pattern to automatically create and provision patched and hardened virtual machine images to multiple AWS accounts
    • Use Azure Security Center to audit the configuration in an Azure deployment and identify security issues
    • Use Terraform to deploy a complete "infrastructure as code" environment to multiple cloud providers
    • Leverage the Cloud Security Alliance Cloud Controls Matrix to select the appropriate security controls for a given cloud network security architecture and assess a CSP's implementation of those controls using audit reports and the CSP's shared responsibility model
    • Follow the penetration testing guidelines put forth by AWS and Azure to invoke your "inner red teamer" to compromise a full stack cloud application
    • Use logs from cloud services and virtual machines hosted in the cloud to detect a security incident and take appropriate steps as a first responder according to a recommended incident response methodology
    • Perform a preliminary forensic file system analysis of a compromised virtual machine to identify indicators of compromise and create a file system timeline
  • SANS Course: SEC510: Public Cloud Security: AWS, Azure, and GCP
    Certification: GIAC Public Cloud Security (GPCS)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6620, Public Cloud Security: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) teaches students how the major cloud providers work and how to securely configure and use their services and Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings.

    ISE 6620, Public Cloud Security: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) teaches students how the major cloud providers work and how to securely configure and use their services and Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings. This course provides cloud security practitioners, analysts, and researchers with an in-depth understanding of the inner workings of the most popular public cloud providers: AWS, Microsoft Azure, and GCP. You will learn industry-renowned standards and methodologies, such as the MITRE ATT&CK Cloud Matrix and CIS Cloud Benchmarks, then apply that knowledge in hands-on exercises to assess a modern web application that leverages the cloud native offerings of each provider. Through this process you will learn the philosophies that undergird each provider and how these have influenced their services.

    You will be prepared to:

    • Understand the inner workings of cloud services and Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings in order to make more informed decisions in the cloud
    • Understand the design philosophies that undergird each provider and how these have influenced their services in order to properly prescribe security solutions for them
    • Discover the unfortunate truth that many cloud services are adopted before their security controls are fully fleshed out
    • Understand Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in depth
    • Understand the intricacies of Identity and Access Management, one of the most fundamental concepts in the cloud and yet one of the last understood
    • Understand cloud networking and how locking it down is a critical aspect of defense in depth in the cloud
    • Analyze how each provider handles encryption at rest and in transit in order to prevent sensitive data loss
    • Explore the service offering landscape to discover what is driving the adoption of multiple cloud platforms and to assess the security of services at the bleeding edge
    • Understand the complex connections between cloud accounts, providers, and on-premise systems and the cloud
    • Perform secure data migration to and from the cloud
    • Understand Terraform Infrastructure-as-Code well enough to share it with your engineering team as a starting point for implementing the controls discussed in the course
  • SANS Course: SEC522: Application Security: Securing Web Applications, APIs, and Microservices
    Certification: GIAC Certified Web Application Defender (GWEB)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6615 covers the OWASP Top 10 and provides students with a better understanding of web application vulnerabilities, enabling them to properly defend organizational web assets. Mitigation strategies from an infrastructure, architecture, and coding perspective are discussed alongside real-world implementations that really work. The testing aspect of vulnerabilities is also covered so students can ensure their application is tested for the vulnerabilities discussed in class.

  • SANS Course: SEC588: Cloud Penetration Testing
    Certification: GIAC Cloud Penetration Tester (GCPN)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6630 dives into the latest in penetration testing techniques focused on the cloud, how to assess cloud environments, as well as other new topics that appear in the cloud like microservices, in-memory data stores, files in the cloud, serverless functions, Kubernetes meshes, and containers. The course also specifically covers Azure and AWS penetration testing, which is particularly important given that Amazon Web Services and Microsoft account for more than half of the market. The goal is not to demonstrate these technologies, but rather to teach you how to assess and report on the true risk that the organization could face if these services are left insecure.

    Students will be able to:

    • Conduct cloud-based penetration tests
    • Assess cloud environments and bring value back to the business by locating vulnerabilities
    • Understand how cloud environments are constructed and how to scale factors into the gathering of evidence
    • Assess security risks in Amazon and Microsoft Azure environments
  • SANS Course: SEC540: Cloud Security and DevSecOps Automation
    Certification: GIAC Cloud Security Automation (GCSA)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6650 provides development, operations, and security professionals with a methodology to build and deliver secure infrastructure and software using DevOps and cloud services. Students will explore how DevOps principles, practices, and tools of DevOps can improve the reliability, integrity, and security of on-premise and cloud-hosted applications. You will gain hands-on experience using popular tools such as Jenkins, GitLab, Puppet, Vault, and Grafana to automate Configuration Management ("Infrastructure as Code"), Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Delivery (CD), cloud infrastructure, containerization, micro-segmentation, Functions as a Service (FaaS), Compliance as Code, and Continuous Monitoring.

    You will be prepared to:

    • Recognize how DevOps works and identify keys to success
    • Utilize Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment workflows, patterns, and tools
    • Identify the security risks and issues associated with DevOps and Continuous Delivery
    • Use DevOps practices to secure DevOps tools and workflows
    • Conduct effective risk assessments and threat modeling in a rapidly changing environment
    • Design and write automated security tests and checks in CI/CD
    • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of different automated testing approaches in Continuous Delivery
    • Implement self-serve security services for developers
    • Inventory and patch your software dependencies
    • Threat model and secure your build and deployment environment
    • Automate configuration management using Infrastructure as Code
    • Secure container technologies (such as Docker and Kubernetes)
    • Build continuous monitoring feedback loops from production to engineering
    • Securely manage secrets for continuous integration servers and applications
    • Automate compliance and security policy scanning
    • Understand how to automate cloud architecture components
    • Use CloudFormation and Terraform to create Infrastructure as Code
    • Build CI/CD pipelines using Jenkins and CodePipeline
    • Wire security scanning into Jenkins and CodePipeline workflows
    • Containerize applications with Elastic Container Service and Azure Kubernetes Service
    • Integrate cloud logging and metrics with Grafana
    • Create Slack alerts from CloudWatch metrics
    • Manage secrets with Vault, KMS, and the SSM Parameter store
    • Protect static content with CloudFront Signatures
    • Leverage Elastic Container Service for blue/green deployments
    • Secure REST APIs with API Gateway
    • Implement an API Gateway custom authorization Lambda function
    • Deploy the AWS WAF and build custom WAF rules
    • Perform continuous compliance scans with CloudMapper
    • Enforce cloud configuration policies with Cloud Custodian

Cyber Defense Operations | Special Focus Area (Optional)

To pursue this Special Focus Area, select three of the following courses.

  • SANS Course: SEC501: Advanced Security Essentials - Enterprise Defender
    Certification: GIAC Certified Enterprise Defender (GCED)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6215 reinforces the theme that prevention is ideal, but detection is a must. Students will learn how to ensure that their organizations constantly improve their security posture to prevent as many attacks as possible. A key focus is on data protection, securing critical information no matter whether it resides on a server, in robust network architectures, or on a portable device.

    Despite an organization's best effort at preventing attacks and protecting its critical data, some attacks will still be successful. Therefore students will also learn how to detect attacks in a timely fashion through an in-depth understanding the traffic that flows on networks, scanning for indications of an attack. The course also includes instruction on performing penetration testing, vulnerability analysis, and forensics.

  • SANS Course: SEC505: Securing Windows and PowerShell Automation
    Certification: GIAC Certified Windows Security Administrator (GCWN)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6230 shows students how to secure servers, workstations and portable devices running Microsoft Windows. Windows is the most frequent target of hackers and advanced malware. While other courses focus on detection or remediation of a compromise after the fact, the aim of this course is to substantially reduce these compromises in the first place. For scalability and automation, this course includes many hands-on labs with Group Policy and PowerShell scripting. No prior scripting experience is required. Learning at least the basics of PowerShell is an essential skill for anyone who manages Windows servers or clients in an enterprise. This course applies the Critical Security Controls to Windows, so it is a natural follow-on to ISE 6001 (SEC566), which is a required course for the curriculum.

  • SANS Course: SEC511: Continuous Monitoring and Security Operations
    Certification: GIAC Continuous Monitoring Certification (GMON)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6240 teaches a proactive approach to enterprise security that presumes attackers will penetrate your environment and therefore emphasizes timely incident detection. The Defensible Security Architecture, Network Security Monitoring, Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation, and Continuous Security Monitoring taught in this course - aligned with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines described in NIST SP 800-137 for Continuous Monitoring (CM) -- are designed to enable you and your organization to analyze threats and detect anomalies that could indicate cybercriminal behavior.

  • SANS Course: SEC599: Defeating Advanced Adversaries - Purple Team Tactics & Kill Chain Defenses
    Certification: GIAC Defending Advanced Threats (GDAT)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6250 leverages the purple team concept by bringing together red and blue teams for maximum effect. Recognizing that a prevent-only strategy is not sufficient, the course focuses on current attack strategies and how they can be effectively mitigated and detected using a Kill Chain structure. Throughout the course, the purple team principle will be maintained, where attack techniques are first explained in-depth, after which effective security controls are introduced and implemented.

Incident Response | Special Focus Area (Optional)

To pursue this Special Focus Area, select three of the following courses.

  • SANS Course: FOR500: Windows Forensic Analysis
    Certification: GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6420 Computer Forensic Investigations - Windows focuses on the critical knowledge of the Windows Operating System that every digital forensic analyst needs to investigate computer incidents successfully. Students learn how computer forensic analysts focus on collecting and analyzing data from computer systems to track user-based activity that can be used in internal investigations or civil/criminal litigation. The course covers the methodology of in-depth computer forensic examinations, digital investigative analysis, and media exploitation so each student will have complete qualifications to work as a computer forensic investigator helping to solve and fight crime.

  • SANS Course: FOR508: Advanced Incident Response, Threat Hunting, and Digital Forensics
    Certification: GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6425 teaches the necessary capabilities for forensic analysts and incident responders to identify and counter a wide range of threats within enterprise networks, including economic espionage, hacktivism, and financial crime syndicates. The course shows students how to work as digital forensic analysts and incident response team members to identify, contain, and remediate sophisticated threats-including nation-state sponsored Advanced Persistent Threats and financial crime syndicates. Students work in a hands-on lab developed from a real-world targeted attack on an enterprise network in order to learn how to identify what data might be stolen and by whom, how to contain a threat, and how to manage and counter an attack.

  • SANS Course: FOR572: Advanced Network Forensics: Threat Hunting, Analysis, and Incident Response
    Certification: GIAC Network Forensic Analyst (GNFA)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6440: Advanced Network Forensics and Analysis focuses on the most critical skills needed to mount efficient and effective post-incident response investigations. Moving beyond the host-focused experiences in ISE 6420 and ISE 6425, ISE 6440 covers the tools, technology, and processes required to integrate network evidence sources into investigations, covering high-level NetFlow analysis, low-level pcap exploration, and ancillary network log examination. Hands-on exercises in FOR 572 cover a wide range of open source and commercial tools, and real-world scenarios help the student learn the underlying techniques and practices to best evaluate the most common types of network-based attacks.

  • SANS Course: FOR578: Cyber Threat Intelligence
    Certification: GIAC Cyber Threat Intelligence (GCTI)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6445 will equip you, your security team, and your organization in the tactical, operational, and strategic level cyber threat intelligence skills and tradecraft required to better understand the evolving threat landscape and to accurately and effectively counter those threats. This course focuses on structured analysis in order to establish a solid foundation for any security skillset and to amplify existing skills.

  • SANS Course: FOR585: Smartphone Forensic Analysis In-Depth
    Certification: GIAC Advanced Smartphone Forensics (GASF)

    3 Credit Hours

    The focus of ISE 6450 is on teaching students how to perform forensic examinations on devices such as mobile phones and tablets. Students will add to their forensics skills with this course's focus on the advanced skills of mobile forensics, device file system analysis, mobile application behavior, event artifact analysis and the identification and analysis of mobile device malware. Students will learn how to detect, decode, decrypt, and correctly interpret evidence recovered from mobile devices. The course features a number of hands-on labs that allow students to analyze different datasets from smart devices and leverage the best forensic tools and custom scripts to learn how smartphone data hide and can be easily misinterpreted by forensic tools.

  • SANS Course: FOR610: Reverse-Engineering Malware: Malware Analysis Tools and Techniques
    Certification: GIAC Reverse Engineering Malware (GREM)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6460 teaches students how to examine and reverse engineer malicious programs - spyware, bots, Trojans, etc. - that target or run on Microsoft Windows, within browser environments such as JavaScript or Flash files, or within malicious document files (including Word and PDF). The course builds a strong foundation for reverse-engineering malicious software using a variety of system and network monitoring utilities, a disassembler, a debugger and other tools. The malware analysis process taught in this class helps students understand how incident responders assess the severity and repercussions of a situation that involves malicious software and plan recovery steps. Students also experience how forensics investigators learn to understand key characteristics of malware discovered during the examination, including how to establish indicators of compromise (IOCs) for scoping and containing the incident.

Industrial Control Systems | Special Focus Area (Optional)

To pursue this Special Focus Area, complete the following three courses.

  • SANS Course: ICS410: ICS/SCADA Security Essentials
    Certification: Global Industrial Cyber Security Professional (GICSP)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6515 ICS/SCADA Security Essentials is an introductory study of how information technologies and operational technologies have converged in today's industrial control system environments. This convergence has led to a greater need than ever for a common understanding between the various groups who support or rely on these systems. Students in ISE 6515 will learn the language, the underlying theory, and the basic tools for industrial control system security in settings across a wide range of industry sectors and applications.

  • SANS Course: ICS515: ICS Visibility, Detection, and Response
    Certification: GIAC Response and Industrial Defense (GRID)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6520 will empower students to understand their networked industrial control system environment, monitor it for threats, perform incident response against identified threats, and learn from interactions with the adversary to enhance network security.

  • SANS Course: ICS456: Essentials for NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection
    Certification: GIAC Critical Infrastructure Protection (GCIP)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6525 empowers students with knowledge of the "what" and the "how" of the version 5/6 standards. The course addresses the role of FERC, NERC and the Regional Entities, provides multiple approaches for identifying and categorizing BES Cyber Systems and helps asset owners determine the requirements applicable to specific implementations. Additionally, the course covers implementation strategies for the version 5/6 requirements with a balanced practitioner approach to both cybersecurity benefits, as well as regulatory compliance.

Penetration Testing | Special Focus Area (Optional)

To pursue this Special Focus Area, select three of the following courses.

  • SANS Course: SEC542: Web App Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking
    Certification: GIAC Web Application Penetration Tester (GWAPT)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6315 is a highly technical information security course in offensive strategies where students learn the art of exploiting Web applications so they can find flaws in enterprise Web apps before they are otherwise discovered and exploited. Through detailed, hands-on exercises students learn the four-step process for Web application penetration testing. Students will inject SQL into back-end databases, learning how attackers exfiltrate sensitive data. They then utilize cross-site scripting attacks to dominate a target infrastructure in a unique hands-on laboratory environment. Finally students explore various other Web app vulnerabilities in-depth with tried-and-true techniques for finding them using a structured testing regimen.

  • SANS Course: SEC560: Network Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking
    Certification: GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6320 prepares students to conduct successful penetration testing and ethical hacking projects. The course starts with proper planning, scoping and recon, and then dives deep into scanning, target exploitation, password attacks, and wireless and web apps with detailed hands-on exercises and practical tips for doing the job safely and effectively. Students will participate in an intensive, hands-on Capture the Flag exercise, conducting a penetration test against a sample target organization.

  • SANS Course: SEC575: Mobile Device Security and Ethical Hacking
    Certification: GIAC Mobile Device Security Analyst (GMOB)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6325 helps students resolve their organization's struggles with mobile device security by equipping then with the skills needed to design, deploy, operate, and assess a well-managed secure mobile environment. From practical policy development to network architecture design and deployment, and mobile code analysis to penetration testing and ethical hacking, this course teaches students to build the critical skills necessary to support the secure deployment and use of mobile phones and tablets in their organization.

  • SANS Course: SEC617: Wireless Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking
    Certification: GIAC Assessing and Auditing Wireless Networks (GAWN)

    3 Credit Hours

    ISE 6330 takes an in-depth look at the security challenges of many different wireless technologies, exposing students to wireless security threats through the eyes of an attacker. Using readily available and custom-developed tools, students will navigate through the techniques attackers use to exploit WiFi networks, Bluetooth devices, and a variety of other wireless technologies. Using assessment and analysis techniques, this course will show students how to identify the threats that expose wireless technology and build on this knowledge to implement defensive techniques that can be used to protect wireless systems.

  • SANS Course: SEC573: Automating Information Security with Python
    Certification: GIAC Python Coder (GPYC)

    3 Credit Hours

    The ISE 6350 course teaches student in the pen testing specialization, and other students who want to use the Python programming language, how to enhance their overall effectiveness during information security engagements. Students will learn how to apply core programming concepts and techniques learned in other courses through the Python programming language. The course teaches skills and techniques that can enhance an information security professional in penetration tests, security operations, and special projects. Students will create simple Python-based tools to interact with network traffic, create custom executables, test and interact with databases and websites, and parse logs or sets of data.

  • SANS Course: SEC660: Advanced Penetration Testing, Exploit Writing, and Ethical Hacking
    Certification: GIAC Exploit Researcher and Advanced Penetration Tester (GXPN)

Security Management | Special Focus Area (Optional)

To pursue this Special Focus Area, complete these two courses and any additional elective course listed above.

  • SANS Course: AUD507: Auditing & Monitoring Networks, Perimeters & Systems
    Certification: GIAC Systems and Network Auditor (GSNA)

    3 Credit Hours

    (Not available as an elective in the MSISM program)

    ISE 6715 is organized specifically to provide a risk driven method for tackling the enormous task of designing an enterprise security validation program. After covering a variety of high level audit issues and general audit best practice, students have the opportunity to dive deep into the technical how to for determining the key controls that can be used to provide a level of assurance to an organization. Tips on how to repeatably verify these controls and techniques for continuous monitoring and automatic compliance validation are given from real world examples.

  • SANS Course: LEG523: Law of Data Security and Investigations
    Certification: GIAC Law of Data Security & Investigations (GLEG)

    3 Credit Hours

    (Not available as an elective in the MSISM program)

    ISE 6720 introduces students to the new laws on privacy, e-discovery, and data security so students can bridge the gap between the legal department and the IT department. It also provides students with skills in the analysis and use of contracts, policies, and records management procedures.


“Nothing pays dividends like practical experience. Many programs attempt it, but the SANS Technology Institute helps students use the latest cyber techniques to pursue objectives commonly encountered on the operations floor." - Matthew Toussain, Founder, Open Security

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Tuition: Approximately $49,500 in total

Tuition includes the cost of the course, textbooks, and certification tests that serve as exams for courses.

Students who have taken SANS training classes and have active GIAC certifications can waive up to 9 credit hours toward the cyber security master’s degree.

    Funding Options



    We're happy to help. Email info@sans.edu or call 301.241.7665.

    About the SANS Technology Institute

    Founded in 2005, the SANS Technology Institute (SANS.edu) is the independent, regionally-accredited, VA-approved subsidiary of SANS, the world's largest and most trusted provider of cybersecurity training, certification, and research. Offering graduate and undergraduate programs at the cutting edge of cybersecurity, SANS.edu is strengthening the cyber workforce through a career-focused curriculum built on proven SANS courses and industry-recognized GIAC certifications.

    The SANS Technology Institute is accredited by The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 - 267.284.5000), an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.