Computer forensics degrees prepare learners to detect, combat, and investigate cyber crime. Students in computer forensics programs also learn about cyber criminology, network and database security processes, and the legal aspects of cybersecurity. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects jobs in information security to grow by about 32% from 2018-2028. As computers continue to pervade people's lives and businesses, computer forensic professionals remain in high demand.
Computer forensics degrees evolve with changes in the information technology and information science fields. Updated rankings reflect how these degrees may best fit prospective students' personal and professional needs.
Top 10 Best Online Computer Forensics Programs
|1||University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL|
|2||Champlain College||Burlington, VT|
|3||Robert Morris University||Moon Township, PA|
|4||University of Arizona||Tucson, AZ|
|5||DeSales University||Center Valley, PA|
|6||Utica College||Utica, NY|
|7||University of San Diego||San Diego, CA|
|8||University of the Cumberlands||Williamsburg, KY|
|9||Stevenson University||Stevenson, MD|
|10||Illinois Institute of Technology||Charleston, IL|
Top Online Computer Forensic Schools for 2020
How We Rank Cybersecurity Programs
Want to know how we create our rankings? We assess schools based on academic quality, affordability, and online flexibility.
Affordability (20% of total score)
Program Appeal (60% of total score)
Online Flexibility (20% of total score)
University of Central Florida
Online Master of Science in Digital Forensics
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.
UFC offers a master of science in digital forensics. This program emphasizes cybersecurity and trains students to communicate, examine, and resolve technological issues for companies.
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $13,016
Online Master of Science in Digital Forensics
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $38,577
Robert Morris University
Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
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.
The School of Informatics, Humanities, and Social Sciences delivers the master of science in cybersecurity and information assurance. This program equips learners with skills and knowledge for determining cybersecurity risks and creating systems that are safe and effective against those threats.
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $25,690
University of Arizona
Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $15,594
Online Master of Criminal Justice: Digital Forensics
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $28,244
Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity with Computer Forensics Specialization
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $22,991
University of San Diego
Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity Engineering
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $35,931
University of the Cumberlands
Online Master of Science in Digital Forensics
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $17,588
Online Master's in Digital Forensics
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.
The university offers a master of science in cybersecurity and digital forensics that emphasizes information collection and analysis for criminal cases. Students examine effective procedures through assignments that mimic common issues in cybersecurity, such as data loss.
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $26,663
Illinois Institute of Technology
Online Master of Cyber Forensics and Security
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $13,168
Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity with a Concentration in Information Assurance
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.
Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $17,520
University of Charleston
Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $13,643
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide
Online Master of Science in Information Security and Assurance
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $18,922
University of Maryland Global Campus
Online Master of Science in Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigation
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.
Average Net Price of Program: $13,672
FAQs: Find the Right Computer Forensics Program
Students entering the computer forensics profession need full understanding of the field. Learners must research coursework, faculty, and emphases when choosing a program, and consider the following factors in their search.
Is Computer Forensics Right For You?
- What Do Computer Forensic Professionals Do?
Computer forensic professionals analyze and investigate data and evidence from security breaches and threats. Computer forensics analysts blend technical knowledge with forensic tools and techniques to trace intrusions and penetrations. They need knowledge of computer operating systems, communication technologies, and data storage devices.
Computer forensic professionals document their findings and, in conjunction with law enforcement officials, present them at judicial or disciplinary hearings. Incidents of hacking, stolen data, and computer attacks all fall under the purview of computer forensic professionals.
Experts in the field may work with companies or as independent consultants. They often provide services to financial institutions, insurance companies, and government entities.
- Is a Computer Forensics Program for You?
Digital forensics experts are concerned with evidence of cyber crimes. They discover, record, preserve, and present this evidence in legal settings (e.g. criminal and civil court cases). The specialized cybersecurity field often appeals to IT gurus in law enforcement and government agencies, but graduates also qualify for digital forensics jobs in the private sector. We discuss additional job opportunities in our profile of How to Become a Forensics Expert.
- Which Program Fits Your Expertise Level?
On this list, you'll find basic, intermediate, and expert programs in forensics, most of which mandate specific technical prerequisites. We've noted the application requirements under each program, but it's always best to contact each university with specific questions. For example, experienced security analysts aiming for top forensics jobs should avoid taking basic courses in network systems.
- What Is the CDFAE Designation?
You may be familiar with the National Security Administration center for academic excellence designation. It's also important to note the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center's National Center for Digital Forensic Academic Excellence (CDFAE) designation. This applies to accredited, nonprofit, academic programs that map their forensics courses against a common core curriculum.
Graduates from CDFAE-designated schools receive certificates of completion, which they may exchange for corresponding Department of Defense (DoD) certifications after gaining federal government employment.
Picking the Best Online Program For You
- Which Title Matches Your Career Focus?
Computer and digital forensics programs frequently include coursework in courts, cyber laws, and cyber crime. Cybersecurity degrees often cover material regarding defense and prevention. A few universities offer particularly specific degrees, such as those in media forensics or forensic accounting, and some provide programs that apply to certain areas of interest (e.g. criminal justice or homeland security).
- What's the Difference Between Computer Forensics and Cyber/Digital Forensics?
Computer forensics is a subset of cyber/digital forensics, which also includes mobile and image data. However, this rule doesn't hold for degree and certificate titles. Lots of schools with long-running forensics programs may keep the computing name while adding courses in new technologies. Pace University, for example, features plenty of work in mobile forensics. Check the curriculum if you have any doubts.
- Which Is for You: Degree, Certificate, or Bootcamp?
Before committing to any specific digital forensics program, talk to your employer or supervisor and contact professionals who currently work in the field. To save money, consider earning an online undergraduate or graduate certificate first. This gives learners the option to apply credits to a degree later on. We've noted which credits transfer easily to degrees at the same university.
- How Can You Prepare for Professional Certifications?
Many programs in this list prepare students for professional cyber forensics certifications, and some schools may even arrange exam discounts. Consider the following certifications: EC-Council's computer hacking forensic investigator, certified incident handler, GIAC certified forensic examiner, ISFCE's certified computer examiner, IACIS's certified forensic computer examiner, and AccessData certified examiner.
- Where Can You Find Real-World Training?
Getting hands-on experience is critical to success in the field of cyber forensics. Opt for online programs to gain exposure to advanced tools and techniques, including virtual labs and hands-on experiences (e.g. penetration testing). We especially like curricula that include internships, report-writing, and capstones (e.g. mock trial). Graduates should know what it feels like to lead a digital forensics investigation and present evidence in a courtroom.
- How Can You Tell If a School Is Good?
Take a look at faculty profiles. Do instructors currently work in the field? Explore the cybersecurity and forensics research centers; does the university provide digital forensics services to outside clients? Does it include that kind of work in its curriculum? What do alumni say about the program?
- Where Can You Find Tuition Discounts?
Many universities on our list offer substantial discounts on digital forensics programs to military service members and veterans, DoD employees, and law enforcement officials. Public universities often charge special in-state tuition rates, as well, which may apply to all online students regardless of their state of residency.
Computer Forensics Jobs
Graduates with degrees in computer forensics can pursue careers in settings such as finance and government service. Computer forensics professionals with associate degrees can work in entry-level positions, while bachelor's and master's degrees qualify graduates for administrative and leadership roles.
Industry certifications and on-the-job experience further enhance computer forensics expertise. Computer forensics professionals build essential hard skills in areas such as programming languages, forensic software applications, and evidence handling. Continuing education and practical experience also foster critical-thinking, analytical, and communication skills.
Check out our guide to learn more about becoming a computer forensics expert.