Computer Forensics Degree Programs
|Utica College||Bachelor||BS in Cybersecurity - Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation||Website|
|Utica College||Master||MS in Cybersecurity - Computer Forensics||Website|
Computer forensics is the examination and analysis of electronic devices that contain information for a court of law. This can be any device, ranging from the computer itself to any attachments used, including flash drives. It also pertains to attacks that happen within the network and cloud-based systems.
There are two traditional environmental settings for computer forensics.
- Investigation scenes feature forensic experts analyzing and extracting important evidence. They may interview individuals that have been victims of cyber crime to determine vulnerabilities or where potential attacks have come from.
- A laboratory setting goes further into verifying specific criminal activity in devices. This can also feature controlled experiments in forensics, such as penetration testing or auditing procedure. In a controlled environment, real attacks can take place to improve security measures and detect future threats.
What it takes to get into Computer Forensics
Individuals can thrive in computer forensics if they have a strong investigation interest. They must pay attention to small details in order to successfully prepare evidence and avoid corruption. Any problems that may damage evidence is not admissible into court cases.
Other requirements include writing detailed reports on findings in the investigative process. Communication skills are also needed to work with investigators or conducting interviews when necessary. Presenting information is a common occurrence when discussing issues with team members or within a court of law.
As technology usage and digital storage increases, there is a need for experienced computer forensics experts. While this is a niche profession, opportunities and overall job growth is expected to grow over the next decade. Higher-paying opportunities are reserved for specialty roles and management positions.
|Aurora University||Bachelor||BA in Criminal Justice||Website|
|Point University||Bachelor||Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice||Website|
|Utica College||Bachelor||BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation||Website|
|Utica College||Master||MS in Data Science||Website|
|Alvernia University||Bachelor||Addictions and Mental Health Treatment (formerly Behavioral Health)||Website|
Are There Computer Forensics Degrees Online?
There are an abundance of computer science programs online that focus on forensics and investigation. Individuals have the ability to find certification that focuses directly on a particular career pathway. This provides an opportunity to learn specific skills to analyze crime scenes or prepare digital evidence.
While industry and vendor certifications show competency in a particular area, different requirements may be needed prior to receiving them. It is generally recommended to have a computer science background. Advanced or graduate certification often requires the completion of an undergraduate degree prior to examination.
Computer forensics combined with criminal justice degrees
More universities are offering their criminal justice and computer forensics degrees online. There may be some limitations as a Bachelor's degree generally requires full-time enrollment to complete in four years. Hybrid learning is a popular option that blends on-campus and online learning.
Master's degrees in computer forensics are widely available online. This provides an easy pathway for established individuals within information technology to add to their skill set. Full-time and part-time options are available with an average of one to two years required for study.
Top Online Programs for Computer Forensics
The Bachelor of Science in Computer Forensics and Digital Investigations is available 100 percent online. Coursework is distributed in seven-week modules, six modules total in each academic year. Two modules are separated into the fall, spring, and summer semesters.
120 total credit hours are needed to complete curriculum requirements. 75 percent of credits can be transferred into the program, including general education and major-focused courses. Students holding the Certified Information Systems Security Professional designation may apply transfer credit.
An introductory Python programming language course is needed within the curriculum. It is imperative to understand operating systems an organization uses, including Windows or Linux. Specialty courses include Critical Inquiry, Technical Writing, and Modern American Social History.
Graduates have proficiency in using scientific methods and theory within digital forensic investigations. This goes along with processing and presenting evidence at the case level. They are ideal in departments working with information assurance and deflecting cyber security threats.
Penn Foster College
In under one year, students can complete certification for the forensic computer examiner profession. This is an entry-level education focusing on equipment essentials with introductory-level forensics. Penn Foster focuses on career-specific education and is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
Students explore operating systems and different hardware features, including smartphones and similar mobile devices. They look into differences between operating systems and how they utilize hardware. This expands into networking capability and internet servers used by an organization.
At the forensics level, this program focuses on an overall look at computer forensics and how this has an impact on individuals and companies. There is an emphasis on criminal activity that originates from computer technology. Students must understand ethical reasoning and law enforcement.
Education is easily immersed into a virtual setting with all courses offered fully online. Students easily review subjects with digital flashcards and discussion boards offer enhanced communication with faculty and other peers. Individuals can sample some lessons to get an understanding of what to expect and if they meet technical requirements.
University of Central Florida
The College of Engineering and Computer Science offers an online Master of Science in Digital Forensics. Offers a thesis format or non-thesis requiring two additional courses. Average completion time for the degree is in two years.
30 total credit hours needed to complete the curriculum. Required course topics include two levels of computer forensics and practicing digital forensics skills. Restricted electives are needed in legal processes, criminal justice, and computing.
Graduates from the program have become computer forensics analysts and information security analysts. They are eligible to complete vendor certification, such as CompTIA A+ and Network+. Individuals with further experience may be eligible for executive-level positions, such as a chief information security officer.
Admission requirements include an updated resume, personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. At least a Bachelor’s degree is needed in a related field. Disciplines may feature computer engineering, computer science, or information technology.
University of Maryland
The Global Campus provides a Master’s degree in Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigation. 36 total credit hours are needed and the full curriculum is available online. There is some flexibility to take courses in a hybrid format with an on-campus learning experience.
Throughout the program, advanced knowledge is gained on intrusion attempts, vulnerability areas, and how to further secure systems. Students may look at various designs of information systems and how digital data is processed. Additional proficiency in reporting on risk and auditing procedures along with moving digital evidence safely.
Up to six credit hours are eligible to be transferred into the program. At least a 3.0 cumulative GPA is needed to graduate. All courses must be completed within a five-year time frame.
Certification with specific tools or professional designation are available. Graduates are prepared to sit for the Access Data and EnCase examination. Receiving the EC-Council Certified Incident Handler is possible, which looks at diagnosing and mitigating damage from real-time intrusion attempts.
Undergraduate Programs in Computer Forensics
Common degrees at the undergraduate level are Associate and Bachelor’s degrees. Computer forensics topics can be found in various disciplines offered by a university. The most common disciplines include Computer Forensics, Digital Forensics, and Criminal Justice.
An Associate degree frequently requires 60 credit hours to complete over a two-year span. This enrollment period may change based on online education and how many credits are taken in a semester. In many cases, students will transfer their education over to a Bachelor’s degree.
In total, the Bachelor’s degree will require approximately 120 total credit hours. This expands on general education that enhances social sciences, communication, mathematics, and more. Completing the Bachelor’s degree opens up the door to entry-level positions, such as information security analyst and computer forensics analyst.
The College of Science offers the Bachelor of Science in Cyber Forensics and Security. This four-year program provides the tools and skills needed to fulfill cyber security solutions. Additional soft skills are earned in communication and critical thinking that enhance forensic skill sets.
Tools students become familiar with include forensic programs from AccessData, Cellebrite, and Network Miner. Certification is available to showcase knowledge and proficiency when using these tools. Must complete real-world situations and penetration testing for the capstone project.
Students have unique resources and events that they may attend throughout their studies. The Appalachian Institute of Digital Evidence features established professionals presenting ideas and innovations each April. Competition teams allow for enhancing skills with an opportunity to network or add to professional resumes.
In order to graduate, students must have a 2.0 cumulative GPA or higher. Grades of C or higher are mandatory for the Advanced Composition course. At least 12 credit hours of coursework must be in the 300 to 400 level through the College of Science.
University of Alabama-Birmingham
The Bachelor of Science in Digital Forensics blends together college courses in criminal justice and computer science. Students understand how to extract and preserve digital information from crime scene investigation. Competency is earned in many digital formats and devices when examining evidence.
41 total credit hours are needed within the Digital Forensics major. In addition to forensic skills, students gain an understanding of the American judicial system. Computer science topics include object-oriented programming in Python and hardware networking capability.
All students are required to complete an internship before receiving the degree. Popular placement is within a government agency at various levels. Private companies that offer a cyber security or information security branch are also considered, including the banking and retail industries.
Advanced study in computer forensics are also available with a graduate certification. 18 total credit hours are needed to fulfill curriculum requirements. Example courses include Digital Media Forensics, Investigating Online Crimes, and Elements of Forensic Science.
Graduate Programs in Computer Forensics
Individuals may expand upon their education with a Master’s degree in computer forensics. Some programs are identified under the Digital Forensics discipline, but topics can be found in Cyber Security and Criminal Justice. Common time frame to complete a Master’s degree is one to two years based on enrollment.
There are differences among these disciplines in terms of overall education. Digital Forensics provides a general overview of skills and processes in computer forensics. This can range from analyzing digital evidence to preparation for an upcoming trial.
The Cyber Security discipline focuses on the information system and protecting data from outside intrusion. Students explore concepts in vulnerability issues within different systems and how to eliminate threats in real time. They may perform hacking simulations to determine the strength of established security in place.
University of Rhode Island
The College of Arts and Sciences offers the Graduate Certificate in Digital Forensics. This can be completed in a span of 9 to 20 months. Goals in the program include communicating efficiently through technical writing and how to preserve and analyze digital evidence.
Core subjects include entry-level digital forensics and both network and systems security. Advanced topics in digital forensics are taken after the core subjects are completed. Certain courses are only available during semesters and there are no course options during the summer term.
Credit from the graduate certification can be transferred to the Master’s degree in Professional Science. Credit can be earned in the subjects of digital forensics and cyber security. This is only applicable to the discipline selected.
Course distribution is in a self-paced format, but there are deadlines. Material is released and due each Friday during the course module. One core subjects are completed, electives are flexible in the order of when they are taken.
West Virginia University
The Graduate Certificate in Computer Forensics offers a focused curriculum in examining criminal activity at a digital level. This provides advanced skills that go beyond the undergraduate program. Ideal for individuals with a computer science background that are looking to go into forensics and information security.
Five total courses are taken in the program, which equal 15 total credit hours. Topics explored include network forensics, data forensics, and incident response. Students may look at how different computer systems manage information and different vulnerabilities that arise in operating systems.
This certification is geared toward students that are also enrolled into a Master of Science in Computer Science or Computer Engineering. Content provides a concentration and a capstone project showcases skills learned throughout. The concentration courses can be completed on their own if desired, but a computer science background is recommended.
Admission requirements are similar to those pursuing a Master’s degree in these disciplines. Applicants submit transcripts showing completion of an undergraduate degree with high academic merit. Also requires multiple letters of recommendation and personal statement.
Top Courses in Computer Forensics
Crime Scene Investigation
How to properly observe a crime scene and document evidence. In a digital setting, there are processes to retrieve hidden or deleted information. This may also include recovery methods for damaged media or collecting data through the cloud or multiple servers.
May feature different software tools and hardware used in the investigation process. Popular tools include Paladin, EnCase, and Sleuth Kit. In addition to computer files, Sleuth Kit can also examine calls and SMS on smartphones.
Introductory-level courses look at theory and criminal process. This includes implementation of law, police departments, and court system. Generally required for students taking or specializing in criminology degrees.
Forensic DNA Analysis
Determine and identify specific characteristics of a suspect for profiling. May include the extraction process for analysis and different types of analysis processes. An example includes Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) that magnifies small samples. This is not limited to humans and there are specialized courses for animals, insects, and more.
General overview of criminal data that is collected for evidence. This may include weapons for murder or assault, damaged property for breaking and entering, and alcohol for related offenses. For the evidence itself, these courses may touch on how these are stored and how to analyze them.
Different operating systems are used within an information system. Applications and processes vary within the popular environment of Windows, Apple, and Linux. May explore benefits, downsides, compatibility differences, and what type of security threats exist.
One of the most popular object-oriented programming languages used when using information systems. Introductory courses explain the different segments of the language, packages that can be used, and how to analyze information. Python is used within penetration testing, cyber security features, and more.
Digital Evidence and Procedure
Emphasizes handling and preparation of digital evidence in a court case. Includes how to document findings and store in a location that it cannot be damaged if on physical media. If evidence is tampered with or becomes corrupt, there is a good chance this evidence is thrown out.
Analyzes criminal activity in a network setting, including devices that are connected and interact with each other. Identifies any exploits on the network or rogue devices that gain unauthorized access. Can also use networking capability to find out where the attempts on attacking information systems are located.
Apply forensic studies to real-world scenarios at an agency or within the legal system. Internships are available after completing a handful of major courses and generally taken in the final year or after graduation. Some programs may require the completion of an internship to receive the degree.
What Can You Do With a Computer Forensics Degree?
Specialization positions in forensic science include crime scene investigation, computer and network examination, and digital forensic analyst. Grouped together, these are considered forensic science technician duties. At least a Bachelor’s degree is needed for a majority of these positions.
At the crime scene, forensic scientists are responsible for identifying and recording evidence. In a digital setting, this may be examined with unique tools that can identify specific issues or determine the root location of an attack. If using physical hardware, this must be safely extracted and maintained to avoid corruption that would eliminate it as usable evidence.
Computer forensics frequently work with fraudulent activity that tricks users to submit sensitive information. Criminals use this to steal money from their bank account or commit identity theft. As tracking technology improves, these forensic tools are used to detect where this activity is coming from.
It is worth investing in forensic science education according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Growth in the field is estimated at 14 percent across the 2019-29 decade. This is due to a rise in using digital information and potential attacks that take place within businesses and government agencies.
At the state and local government levels, forensic science technicians make an average of $60,000 across the United States. California offers the largest annual mean wage estimates at $87,200. Other high-paying locations include Ohio, Illinois, Oregon, and Virginia.
The state of California also provides the highest employment opportunity for computer forensics. Other top states include Texas, New York, and Florida. There is also high concentration in some of the Southwestern states, including Tucson in Arizona, and Albuquerque and Santa Fe in New Mexico.
Specialty job roles include ethical hacking and information security managers. Ethical hacking is the process of controlled attacks on organization servers to determine any vulnerabilities and how to fix them. Security managers are reserved for experienced professionals that are able to handle multiple teams or cases and ensure processes are being followed.
All Schools with Forensic Science Programs
California State University Long Beach
- Internet Crime and Identity Theft Certificate Program
- Certificate in Computer and Digital Forensics
- Online Bachelor of Science in Computer and Digital Forensics
- Computer Forensics CCE
Florida Community College
- Computer Forensics Technician
George Mason Continuing Education
- Online Forensic Computer Examiner Certificate
George Washington University
- HighTechnology Crime Investigation Certificate
ITT Technical Institute
- Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Cyber Security
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Forensics
- Computer Forensics Certificate
- Certificate for Forensic Science/Criminal Justice
- Criminal Justice
National Center For Forensic Science
- Graduate Certificate in Computer Forensics
Penn Foster Career School
- Online Forensic Computer Examiner Certificate
- Graduate Studies in Computer and Information Technology
Tompkins Cortland Community College
- Associate of Arts and Sciences in Computer Forensics
University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Certificate Program in Computer Forensics
University of Central Florida
- Computer Forensics Certificate
- Master of Science in Digital Forensics
- Master of Science in Digital Forensics
- Online Master of Science in Digital Forensics
University of North Dakota
- Online Forensic Computer Examiner
University of Rhode Island
- Online Graduate Certificate in Digital Forensics
- Online Professional Certificate in Digital Forensics
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Computing
West Virginia University
- Certificate in Computer Forensics