Best Online Master’s in Computer Forensics Programs of 2021
| Staff Writers
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Find the right education path to take advantage of this fast-growing industry and join the front-lines on technology and security.
Individuals with strong problem-solving skills and a passion for technology often thrive in computer forensics positions. These professionals keep their communities and countries safe by helping to solve and prevent cybercrimes.
The computer forensics field offers high-paying positions with strong potential for personal fulfillment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information technology professionals earn a median annual salary of $88,240.
A master’s in computer forensics qualifies graduates for a variety of jobs in the field. This guide explores common careers for computer forensics master’s degree-holders, plus a ranking of the best online computer forensics programs.
Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.
What Is Computer Forensics?
The field of computer forensics began to form in the 1980s, when more consumers began purchasing personal computers. By the time the internet became part of public life in the late 1990s and early 2000s, computer crime had become a serious threat. Consequently, computer forensics professionals were needed to pursue individual perpetrators, crime rings, corporate criminals, and even governments.
Today, computer forensics professionals work on the front lines of criminal investigations. They help prevent espionage and maintain national security in government agencies, private companies, healthcare settings, and educational institutions.
Graduates of online computer forensics programs can work as computer forensics investigators, information security analysts, forensic computer analysts, and security consultants.
Graduates of online computer forensics programs can work as computer forensics investigators, information security analysts, forensic computer analysts, and security consultants. Daily responsibilities vary, but these professionals all use digital and electronic tools to investigate crimes. Individuals in the computer forensics field use problem-solving skills and technical knowledge to serve their community.
Entry-level positions in the field typically require a bachelor’s degree, and most computer forensics professionals pursue professional certifications. Individuals can earn a master’s in computer forensics to qualify for leadership roles in the field.
Why Get an Online Computer Forensics Master’s?
Bachelor’s degree-holders can qualify for many careers in cybersecurity and computer forensics, but a master’s in computer forensics can make job candidates more attractive to employers.
Additionally, more advanced education usually correlates with increased earning potential. According to BLS data, master’s degree-holders’ median weekly salary is about $250 higher than that of bachelor’s degree-holders. Graduate programs help learners develop advanced skills to prepare for high-level positions.
The list below features a few common benefits of completing an online computer forensics program.
More Job Opportunities
Earning a computer forensics master’s degree can lead to high-level job opportunities. Many employers in cybersecurity and computer forensics prefer candidates with advanced experience and education.
Master’s programs in computer forensics typically offer specialization options, allowing learners to focus their studies in a niche area.
Graduate students practice their advanced skills during experiential learning components. Many programs offer short certificate programs, allowing learners to further bolster their resume.
The Top Online Master’s in Computer Forensics Schools
The University of Central Florida began in 1963 with a strong interest in space research. Located in Orlando, this public institution awards over 16,000 degrees annually, for a total of more than 347,000 conferred degrees over time. Enrollment surpassed 69,000 for fall 2019 at this military-friendly university. UFC boasts Carnegie Classification and ranks as the 16th most innovative school in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report. The institution's accreditation comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The curriculum includes 30 credits and three restricted elective course categories: computing and technology, criminal justice, and legal studies. Learners can choose a thesis or non-thesis option and may finish their degree in 24 months. Career opportunities for graduates include analyst and security administrator.
This online computer forensics degree is a product of several university departments and the National Center for Forensic Science. UCF also delivers online certificates in crime analysis, systems engineering, and design for usability, which can increase students' career options.
Distance learners at UCF can receive writing guidance through the writing center by using Adobe Connect technology. UCF also provides online tutoring through the student academic resource center. The library offers virtual research consultations to students and allows online candidates to review virtual library materials such as journals and databases. Applicants must provide transcripts, a resume, and a professional statement.
Champlain College started as the Burlington Collegiate Institute and Commercial College in 1878. The name changed to Champlain in 1958. More than 2,000 students benefit from a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio at this private institution. Around 94% of 2018 alumni from this Vermont school entered the workforce within six months.
U.S. News & World Report ranks Champlain as the 66th best regional university in the North, 38th best college for veterans, 46th best value school, and eighth most innovative school in the country. The New England Commission of Higher Education accredits the college.
Champlain's master of science in digital forensic science prepares students to identify and manage cybersecurity threats for multiple devices. Learners are trained to create tools and determine strategies for countering these cyber issues, as well as to assess the value of current protective methods.
To complete this computer forensics program, degree-seekers must complete 30 credits in courses that explore encryption, investigation, and systems analysis. Graduation also mandates a thesis. Courses embrace asynchronous delivery and last eight weeks each.
The Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center recognizes the college as a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence. This distinction means Champlain is among the best schools for computer forensics, which can help graduates earn careers as research scientists, information systems managers, and computer systems analysts.
Ideal applicants for the computer forensics master's hold a bachelor's and boast relevant field experience. Candidates must also answer essay questions and provide resumes and transcripts. Military students benefit from reduced tuition rates.
The Pittsburgh School of Accountancy began in 1921 and later became Robert Morris University. The school's first class only included 26 learners. Today, this private university offers over 80 programs, and 94% of RMU graduates enter the workforce or a graduate program within 12 months of degree completion. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education accredits this military-friendly institution.
This master's calls for 30 credits in computer forensics courses, including microcomputing technology, information technology governance, and network technology and management. As one of the best computer forensics programs in the country, this degree commonly leads to employment with companies like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Giant Eagle, and Heritage Valley Health System. In fact, 84% of RMU alumni enter careers related to their degree.
RMU also offers an online 21-credit certificate in mobile forensics and security. Learners can also pursue RMU's on-campus doctorate in information systems and communications.
The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security recognize RMU as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. RMU learners can participate in events that relate to cybersecurity concepts such as email privacy and identity theft. The school's website also informs students of relevant certification opportunities, journals, and conferences.
The University of Arizona's history begins in 1885. Located in Tucson, this public school boasted 45,918 students in fall 2019 and conferred over 10,000 degrees in 2019. The institution ranks on U.S. News & World Report's lists for top national universities, best colleges for veterans, best value schools, and top public schools. The Higher Learning Commission accredits this university.
The school offers an online master of science in cybersecurity that examines security issues as they relate to individuals, companies, and countries. Coursework provides information for determining and preventing security threats, as well as dealing with security breaches.
The program calls for 33 credits and delivers two track options: information systems and physical systems. For either track, learners complete online courses related to computer forensics, including data mining for business intelligence and systems cybersecurity engineering.
The department is recognized as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.
Applicants for this computer forensics master's should have related field experience, certification, or an undergraduate degree that is no more than 12 months old. Candidates also need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must provide three recommendation letters, a resume, and a purpose statement.
UA does not charge out-of-state tuition for online learners. The school provides military personnel with reduced tuition rates. Online students can benefit from tutoring through the Think Tank and may access online library resources.
Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales opened to students in 1965. This Catholic institution in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, became DeSales University in 2000. Nearly 3,500 learners attend DeSales and benefit from a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The university ranks among U.S. News & World Report's top 60 regional universities in the North, best colleges for veterans, and best value schools. The school also holds accreditation through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Students who are interested in online courses for computer forensics should consider the university's 30-credit master of arts in criminal justice with a focus on digital forensics. Candidates learn to conduct forensic criminal investigations by using current tools, technology, and research. To prepare for these outcomes, the curriculum includes technology-based courses like network and cloud forensics. The program also addresses criminology and criminal law. All learners complete a master's project seminar.
Online courses at DeSales use Blackboard technology and may be delivered synchronously or asynchronously. All faculty for this master's program boast professional field experience.
To enter this computer forensics program, degree-seekers must hold a bachelor's and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Admission also requires three recommendation letters and a goals statement. Learners who work in criminal justice benefit from reduced tuition rates. Out-of-state learners do not pay higher tuition than in-state students.
Learners can earn related graduate certificates from DeSales to increase their employment odds. These credentials cover topics such as cybersecurity, information systems, investigative forensics, counterrorism digital forensics, and homeland security and counterrorism investigations.
Utica College started in 1946 in connection to Syracuse University. Current enrollment at this New York college exceeds 5,000, and more than 29,000 learners have graduated from the institution. Utica ranks as the 86th regional university in the North, according to U.S. News and World Report, and boasts accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The college's master of science in cybersecurity offers a concentration in computer forensics. This program covers methods of detecting and dealing with cyber crimes related to breaches, data manipulation, and illegal content. Coursework trains students in using current tools, assessing information, and maintaining evidence to solve virtual crimes through 30 credits of courses. Learners must also complete a capstone project.
Students can graduate in two years. However, candidates without previous coursework related to computer forensics may need to complete a foundational class in cybersecurity. Graduates may work for organizations such as banks, insurance companies, and law enforcement agencies.
This degree can help individuals obtain certifications as professional investigators, computer hacking forensic investigators, and forensic computer examiners or analysts. These credentials come from organizations such as the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists.
The Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency recognize Utica as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.
Other specializations for the MS in cybersecurity include electronic crime, intelligence, malware analysis, and cyber operations. The school also offers certificates in related areas, including cyber policy, cybersecurity technologies, cyber network defense, and financial crime and compliance operations.
Online students can benefit from online tutoring through Smarthinking, including essay feedback through the Online Writing Lab.
The University of San Diego dates back to 1949 and offers education that is grounded in Catholic traditions. More than 9,000 students attend USD and can choose from over 75 programs. Over 70,000 learners from more than 140 countries have graduated from this private university. According to U.S. News and World Report, USD ranks as the 91st best national university, 58th best college for veterans, and 66th best value school in the country. The school holds accreditation from Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering delivers a master of science in cybersecurity engineering that prepares individuals to detect and counter cybersecurity risks in a variety of settings. The program emphasizes current problems in cybersecurity. Students develop hardware and software skills for designing tools and techniques for safer virtual practices.
The curriculum includes 30 credits in concepts such as cryptography, security assurance, and cybersecurity operations. Learners can graduate in under two years by enrolling in two asynchronous classes during three 14-week semesters per year. These classes last seven weeks apiece. USD uses Blackboard to deliver online courses.
Ideal applicants for the program have a bachelor's and work experience in the field. Candidates should also hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and supply a statement of purpose; two references; a resume; and test scores from exams like the Graduate Record Examination, the Graduate Management Admission Test, or the Miller Analogies Test. The university embraces rolling admissions. In-state and out-of-state learners pay equal tuition rates.
The Williamsburg Institute was founded in 1888 and changed its name to the University of the Cumberlands in 2005. Today, the university educates 11,696 learners, and over one-fourth of these students are first generation. This Kentucky university's accreditation comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
To study computer forensics, students can enroll in the institution's master of science in digital forensics. The program equips degree-seekers with technical knowledge for helping companies solve and recover from cyber crimes. Learners also study theories, statistics, communication, and leadership as they relate to digital forensics practices.
Candidates must earn 31 credits through computer forensics courses such as malware, wireless security, and Windows digital forensics. The curriculum also calls for an applied learning practicum. Alumni can earn positions as police detectives, data security administrators, private investigators, and information technology managers.
Ideal applicants have a bachelor's, experience in the field, and at least a 2.5 GPA.
The university does not charge higher tuition for nonresident students.
The institution is one of the best schools for computer forensics in the country, due to its recognition as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. This distinction comes from the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.
Distance learners can search for available careers through Handshake and polish interview skills through Big Interview. The school also provides online workshops and tutoring for academic assistance. Other online resources include access to e-books and journals through the Hagan Memorial Library.
Located in Maryland, Stevenson University started in 1947 and currently educates more than 2,700 undergraduate learners. These students experience a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, and 92% of graduates enter the workforce or another academic program in the six months following degree conferral. U.S. News & World Report ranks Stevenson as the 75th best regional university in the North, 45th best college for veterans, and 33rd best value school in the nation. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education accredits Stevenson.
Computer forensics courses for this program may cover concepts such as incident response, malware detection, and network penetration testing. The university delivers these courses through Blackboard.
The program prepares for careers as network engineers, network architects, and cybersecurity engineers and analysts. Stevenson's other certificates -- such as credentials in crime scene investigation, forensic accounting, and forensic investigation -- may also help graduates obtain forensics careers.
The department requires a related bachelor's or field experience for admission. Candidates must also hold at least a 3.0 GPA and submit a personal statement. For higher admission chances, candidates can also supply a resume and two recommendations.
Stevenson provides online students with online tutoring through Smarthinking. Virtual learners can also browse library resources, including citation guidelines, research tutorials, and online databases and journals.
Created through a merger of the Lewis Institute and Armour Institute, the Illinois Institute of Technology began in 1940 and has graduated more than 80,000 learners. This Chicago-based school educated 6,566 students in fall 2019 and conferred over 2,300 degrees in 2018-2019. The student loan default rate for Illinois Tech alumni is 2.7%, which is nearly 9% lower than the national average. The institute ranks as one of the best colleges for veterans and best value schools in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report, and holds accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.
The School of Applied Technology's Department of Information Technology and Management offers a master of cyber forensics and security. The program examines legal, ethical, and technical concepts for overseeing systems and analyzing security issues. Learners explore ethical hacking and efficient protocols for dealing with security breaches.
The curriculum includes 30 credits in vulnerability analysis and control, digital evidence, and cybersecurity technologies. Candidates can also choose a project path, which requires a research course. The program prepares degree-seekers for careers as information security officers, cybersecurity analysts, and vulnerability researchers.
Illinois Tech's career services center provides students with Handshake access. Online learners can also explore the school's blog for information on professional development, internships, and networking. Distance students can use electronic library sources, such as journals and research guides.
Learners at Illinois Tech can take part in study abroad opportunities on all continents but Antarctica. The institution participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
The New York State Board of Regents established the Regents External Degree Program in 1971. In 1998, this institution gained status as an independent school and later became Excelsior College. As of summer 2019, nearly 23,400 learners attended this private college, which is located in Albany. Over half of the school's graduates earn a higher position or salary within one year of program completion. Excelsior's accreditation comes from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Students can pursue Excelsior's master of science in cybersecurity and concentrate in information assurance. This program addresses ethical and legal concerns for cybersecurity and equips learners with skills for assessing risks, testing network vulnerability, and choosing methods for preventing or countering cyber attacks. The curriculum also emphasizes communication in cybersecurity settings.
The degree requires 30 credits in courses such as project management and application security, as well as a capstone. Learners can hasten graduation by applying as many as 15 transfer credits toward the degree.
Career opportunities for graduates include digital crime investigator, senior security analyst, and security and compliance manager. Candidates must complete the program in five years or file an appeal for an extension. Students must also hold a 3.0 GPA to graduate.
Excelsior is recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.
Excelsior's distance learners can access virtual library resources, including e-books, journals, and videos. The college also provides online tutoring and offers writing guidance through the Online Writing Lab.
Mississippi College started in 1826. Located in the city of Clinton, this Christian school offers over 130 academic programs to more than 5,000 learners and conferred 1,339 degrees in 2017-2018. The college maintains ties to the Mississippi Baptist Convention and holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
MC's master of science in cybersecurity and information assurance program prepares candidates to determine vulnerable areas for cyber threats in order to prevent attacks. The curriculum also addresses how to deal with cyber attacks from a small to global scale. Students learn about these topics through classes such as cryptography and network security, ethics and law in information security, and computer and network forensics.
Applicants should have a bachelor's or field experience related to computer forensics. Otherwise, learners must complete specific prerequisite classes. Admission also requires at least a 2.75 GPA. After entering the program, students should keep a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state learners.
Candidates can also earn a certificate in cybersecurity and information assurance or homeland security. MC hosts an on-campus cybersecurity summit. Students qualify for a discount registration rate for this event.
Online learners can hone their interview skills through Big Interview and review virtual resources such as e-books, videos, and databases through Leland Speed Library. The library also provides ask-a-librarian and virtual librarian features for research assistance.
MC offers study abroad opportunities to locations such as London, Costa Rica, France, Germany, and South Korea.
The Barboursville Seminary started in 1888 with ties to the Methodist Episcopal Church South. This seminary became the University of Charleston in 1978. Spring 2019 enrollment for this West Virginia institution included more than 2,600 learners from over 40 nations. Over four-fifths of UC graduates enter the workforce or another educational program within half of a year of completing their degree. This military-friendly institution's accreditation comes from the Higher Learning Commission.
The university's 30-credit master of science in cybersecurity helps learners excel in all aspects of cybersecurity, including development and maintenance of systems, risk assessment, evidence-gathering, and analysis. The curriculum reflects the standards of the National CyberSecurity Workforce Framework and incorporates classes such as cyber psychology, strategic cyber intelligence, and offensive and defensive strategies. Students also complete a capstone.
Learners can graduate in under three years and may qualify for careers related to policy, management, and planning for cybersecurity practices.
Students can earn an online bachelor's in cybersecurity from UC to prepare for the master's program. The department does not insist on standardized tests for graduate-level admission. UC charges the same in-state and out-of-state tuition for this master's. Additionally, military students benefit from reduced rates.
The Academic Success Center delivers online tutoring through Smarthinking in subjects such as writing, technology, and statistics. Online students may also review virtual library resources, including online databases and articles.
University learners can study abroad in areas such as Brazil, China, and France.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's history dates back to 1925. In 2017-2018, around 34,000 learners attended this private school, which is now located in Dayton Beach, Florida. Candidates can pursue associate- to doctoral-level degrees at this university. Ninety-four percent of the institution's alumni report beginning a career or advanced program within 12 months of degree conferral. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits this school.
The College of Business's master of science in information security and assurance trains students to design, implement, and manage safe information systems, with attention to possible risks and methods for dealing with security breaches. Students examine relevant technology and business concepts for excelling in cybersecurity leadership positions in different types of organizations.
Learners in this computer forensics program choose from three specializations: business intelligence, information systems security, and information assurance in a global context. For any of these focus areas, degree-seekers complete 30 credits in courses that cover topics such as risk management, cyber law, informatics, and business systems.
Students pay a flat tuition rate, regardless of location. Military degree-seekers receive discounts. Online courses at the university are delivered through EagleVision classrooms, which utilize video conferencing.
Worldwide students gain access to career websites and tools, including Handshake, Glassdoor, CareerBliss, and CareerShift. Candidates can also obtain resume and interview feedback and attend university career events. Online learners may explore virtual materials through the Hunt Library and Hazy Library.
The University of Maryland Global Campus, which was previously known as the University of Maryland University College, started in 1947. Located in the city of Adelphi, UMGC primarily educates nontraditional students, including working professionals, parents, and military personnel. The median income for graduate-level UMGC alumni surpasses $75,000. U.S. News and World Report ranks this university as the 20th most innovative school in the country, and the school's accreditation comes from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
UMGC's master of science in digital forensics and cyber investigation equips learners with skills for assessing cybersecurity risks and attacks. The program also emphasizes evidence management for court proceedings and analytical approaches for resolving cybersecurity issues. Students learn to communicate cybersecurity problems while holding leadership roles in law enforcement, government, and private settings.
This master's requires 36 credits, including a capstone. Students must keep at least a 3.0 GPA throughout the program and graduate in five years or less. The school accepts up to six transfer credits. Graduates may qualify to take certification exams such as the AccessData Certified Examiner and Certified Cyber Forensics Professional credentials.
UMGC offers graduate certificates in areas such as cybersecurity technology, homeland security management, and cybersecurity management and policy. These credentials may increase learners' employment opportunities.
Online students at UMGC receive free digital textbooks and complete coursework asynchronously. Since graduate classes typically last six weeks each, students can take a single course during each learning period.
Distance learners can attend an online orientation and virtual events related to curriculum requirements, student success strategies, and graduate opportunities. Virtual students can also use online library materials.
What To Expect From Online Computer Forensics Programs
Since the late 1970s, professionals have explored ways to prevent computer-based crimes. In 1995, the International Organization on Computer Evidence began pursuing some of the earliest cybercrime investigations and working to secure data on individual machines.
Online computer forensics programs build on these early explorations, delving into the complex and intricate systems involved in computer-based crimes. Students explore methods for collecting, analyzing, and protecting data for use as evidence in criminal proceedings.
Master’s programs in the field typically require 30-45 credits, which most students complete in 1-2 years. Many programs offer specialization options, allowing students to tailor their degree to their interests. Core curricula emphasize advanced skills in digital forensics.
The following sections cover the cost of earning a master’s in computer forensics, along with typical program requirements.
Applicants to graduate programs typically need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Some computer forensics programs accept applicants with an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field, while others require candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, computer forensics, or a closely related area.
Some programs prefer applicants with professional experience in the industry, which individuals may gain through internships or full-time positions. Candidates may also stand out by obtaining certifications in areas such as computing languages.
Master’s programs generally require applicants to submit transcripts from all prior institutions, and applicants may need to provide GRE scores. Minimum test scores and GPA requirements vary by program, and some schools evaluate applications holistically. Most computer forensics programs require an application fee, and accepted students may need to pay an enrollment deposit.
Degree and Specialization Options
Most computer forensics programs confer a master of science (MS) degree. MS curricula emphasize the sciences, while master of arts programs focus on the liberal arts and humanities.
Master’s programs often offer specialization options, which allow students to tailor their computer forensics degree toward their interests and career goals. Specialization coursework generally builds on core classes in computer forensics. The following list highlights a few common computer forensics specializations.
This concentration explores security systems built to protect and maintain data, both online and offline. Courses may explore firewalls and network security, and students learn to design, implement, and maintain systems.
This specialization emphasizes the role of computer forensics in criminal investigations. Courses typically explore the criminal justice system and processes, preparing students to serve as expert witnesses in court.
Students in this concentration examine external threats and learn about methods cybercriminals may use to breach computer and network systems.
Popular Computer Forensics Courses
Computer forensics curricula comprise core courses and electives, which learners often use to pursue a specialization area. Some programs culminate in a capstone course, which often includes a supervised project.
Available courses vary by online computer forensics program. However, many master’s programs in the field feature similar coursework. Students in online computer forensic programs often complete the following classes.
Data Network Security
Students in this class explore the fundamentals of computer and data communication networks. Learners examine how these networks operate, and they develop the technical skills necessary to manage and protect networks. Degree-seekers also explore the operational functions of computer and data security.
Incident Response and Network Forensics
This course examines various types of breaches, intrusions, and security incidents. Students learn about the systems in place to block and prevent these events. Degree-seekers prepare to identify, categorize, and respond to incidents. Coursework may also cover incident response for mobile devices and platforms.
In this course, learners gain skills necessary to participate in civil and criminal legal proceedings. Students learn how to preserve and reconstruct forensic evidence and how to recover data. Coursework also examines case studies regarding digital investigations of copyright infringement, espionage, and fraud.
Computer forensics programs often require coursework in cybersecurity. This class examines fundamental topics to help students gain a strong understanding of the structures of cybersecurity networks and programs. Degree-seekers apply cybersecurity theories and methodologies by building and securing network infrastructures.
Many graduate programs require a capstone course, which typically involves a research project or a focused seminar. Learners typically complete capstone research projects under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Capstone seminar topics explore a niche area of specific computer forensics and often vary each semester.
How Much Will a Master’s in Computer Forensics Cost?
The cost of earning a master’s in computer forensics varies by school. Factors that impact cost include the student’s residency status, the program format, and the type of institution.
In addition to tuition, prospective students should budget for costs including textbooks and materials, a laptop or tablet, and program fees. To offset the cost of a degree, learners can apply for various financial aid opportunities.
Scholarships and Grants
These funds, often based on financial need or academic merit, do not require repayment.
Degree-seekers can take out private or federal student loans. Borrowers must repay these funds, typically after completing their computer forensics program.
Graduate students may also receive funding in exchange for work as research or teaching assistants. However, these positions are often available only to on-campus learners.
Jobs for Master’s in Computer Forensics Graduates
With the increasing prevalence of technology, the need for qualified computer specialists continues to grow. According to a study by Javelin, there were 1,473 data breaches in 2019. Businesses and organizations need computer forensics and cybersecurity specialists to protect their data and help prosecute breaches and hacks.
Graduates of computer forensics programs can pursue a variety of careers in information technology and computer programming. Degree-holders can qualify for advanced roles in fields such as information security and analysis, computer and information research, and computer network architecture.
The list below highlights a few common careers for individuals with a computer forensics master’s degree.
Computer and Information Research Scientists
These scientists explore new and evolving issues in computing, and they design theories and models to manage those issues. These professionals help design and develop software and technology. Graduate programs prepare students for research positions through coursework in experiment design and analysis.
Required Education: Master’s degree Job Outlook (2019-29):+15% Median Annual Salary:$122,840
Information Security Analysts
These professionals help companies and organizations design, implement, and maintain security systems to protect data and information. Information security analysts monitor network activity, and they identify and respond to breaches and incidents. These analysts also back up data to prepare for digital hacks and breakdowns.
Required Education: Bachelor’s required, master’s preferred Job Outlook (2019-29):+31% Median Annual Salary:$99,730
Computer Systems Analysts
Graduates of computer forensics programs often become computer systems analysts. These professionals closely analyze systems’ functionality and infrastructures, and they identify areas that need stronger security. These analysts often oversee information technology departments, train users, and work to improve efficiency.
Required Education: Bachelor’s required, master’s preferred Job Outlook (2019-29):+7% Median Annual Salary:$90,920
Computer Network Architects
Computer network architects work with communication networks, such as local area and wide area network systems. These architects build communication systems for large and small organizations, and they ensure that systems align with the most current technology. These professionals need strong cybersecurity skills.
Required Education: Bachelor’s required, master’s preferred Job Outlook (2019-29):+5% Median Annual Salary:$112,690
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
These administrators oversee computer networks within businesses and organizations. They build and maintain networks and systems that meet the needs of their employer. These professionals often provide computer systems training for new employees and troubleshoot technical issues.
Required Education: Bachelor’s degree and additional certifications Job Outlook (2019-29):+4% Median Annual Salary:$83,510
Choosing the Right Computer Forensics Graduate Program
When choosing from the many online computer forensics programs available, prospective students should select a program that aligns with their interests and goals. Learners can consider factors including accreditation, cost, career services, reputation, and alumni network.
The accreditation process requires an extensive evaluation by a third-party agency. Regional, national, and programmatic agencies offer accreditation. Regional accreditation is the most prestigious, and top programs often hold field-specific accreditation. ABET awards accreditation to online computer forensics programs.
Cost and Financial Aid
Prospective students should consider each program’s tuition rate and additional costs. Program fees and the cost of books vary by school. Learners should also research each institution’s financial aid offerings.
Many schools offer career services to help students transition from their program into the workforce. Not all schools provide online access to career services, so distance learners should consider each institution’s virtual resources.
The reputation of a job candidate’s school can impact the opinion of prospective employers. Learners should choose a reputable institution to ensure their degree carries weight.
Graduates can leverage their school’s alumni network to make connections and access professional opportunities. More established programs generally offer a more robust network of computer forensics graduates.
Why You Should Attend a Computer Forensics Program Online
Some schools have offered distance education programs for decades. However, the popularity of online learning has accelerated in recent years. Today, employers tend to recognize online and on-campus degrees as equals.
Distance learning can be ideal for students pursuing technology-related majors, since online programs feature hands-on technology use. Before choosing a program format, prospective learners should consider various factors, including cost. Online students need sufficient devices and internet access, and they may need to pay additional technology fees.
Students in online programs must demonstrate initiative and self-direction. Although learning online is not easier than studying on campus, distance programs generally provide more flexibility. Working professionals often benefit from the scheduling flexibility of online programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get a master's degree in computer forensics?
The length of a computer forensics master’s program depends on credit requirements and the student’s enrollment status. However, most learners graduate in 1-2 years. Students in accelerated programs may need less time.
What kind of degree do you need for computer forensics?
Entry-level computer forensics positions typically require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field. Some careers also require certification in a specialized area, such as penetration testing or digital investigations.
What can I do with a degree in computer forensics?
Computer forensics degree-holders can pursue many technology and law enforcement careers, including roles as malware analysts, information security analysts, and mobile forensic examiners. Experienced professionals can pursue positions in consulting and cybersecurity management.
Is computer forensics a good career?
Computer forensics programs feature coursework in law enforcement and technology, preparing students for diverse security-related careers. Many positions in this emerging field offer above-average salaries and personal fulfillment.