Computer Forensics Degree

What is Computer Forensics?

Computer forensics degree programs are a subset of cyber security. So, is a branch of digital science. But one that relates only to crime solving. An aim of computer forensics is to recover evidence. In the case of hacking, bank fraud. Or identity theft, for instance. Most programs thus help you learn key detective skills. And understand how to conduct an audit. Even from an impenetrable computer.

What Do Computer Forensics Analysts Do?

A Computer Forensics Investigator has another name. They are also known as Forensic Analysts. In both cases, professional training is vital. And, is one of the goals of a computer forensic degree. As the jobs titles suggest, these pros are like detectives. But their crime scenes are computers. Or any other device that stores data.

Computer Forensic Analyst Tasks

They do this work during a criminal investigation. For instance, when hackers and viruses corrupt a system. Once they start to look into a crime, Analysts follows specific steps. These steps help them to recover data. Also, examine it.

In some cases though, Analysts have to deal with damaged equipment. So, they must know how to dismantle it. And rebuild systems too. To do this work, computer forensics experts need to know computers. From hard drives and networking. To data encryption.

After they collect all the evidence, other protocols follow. The first one is usually to write up a technical report. It details their findings. And also, shows all the steps taken during the retrieval process. Another protocol is to testify in court. Doing so, they often help law enforcement prosecute the criminal.

Computer Forensics vs. Cyber / Digital Forensics

At first glance it may look like cyber security pros and computer forensic analysts are the same. In fact they do share one goal. The protection of digital assets and intelligence. Apart from that, the roles are different. Both in their education. And, in the scope and duties asked from each.

In fact, some say that cyber security and computer forensics are two sides of the same coin. Put in simple terms, cyber security is about prevention. While computer forensics is about response.

What’s the Difference Between Cyber Security and Computer Forensics?

A cyber security team works to defend an info sec system. And, to defend against cyber attacks of all types. Unfortunately, their efforts may fail. So, when a breach takes place, they need help with these things.

  • Identify the hack
  • Understand the source
  • Recover compromised data

The team they call for this help are Computer Forensics Analysts. For instance, if a criminal wiped a computer hard drive to hide evidence. An analyst knows how to retrieve that data.

Types of Computer Forensic Degrees

You may find computer forensics degrees at all levels. From undergrad (associate, bachelor). To graduate (master, PhD).

Bachelors in Computer Forensics

In most cases, a bachelor degree is the entry point to a career in computer forensics. So, it may cover key concepts. As well as help you know how to apply them in real time. To give you an example, let’s take a closer look at a bachelor’s program. The BS in Computer Forensics and Digital Investigations This degree program aims to prep you to pursue a career. And to do so, may help you learn some of these things.

  • Identify, retrieve, examine, and present digital evidence
  • Asses & apply new laws to digital forensics
  • Apply computer skills
  • Know the ethics of investigating a cyber crime
  • Use effective digital forensic methods
  • Spot the culture and methods used in white collar crime
  • Test digital forensics tools and know what works

Master’s in Computer Forensics

If you want to advance an info sec career, you may need a master’s degree or MBA. These programs often help you gain two sets of skills. Business and technical. So, may be perfect for someone who strives to climb the ladder.

Computer Forensic Course Curriculum

Many computer forensics degree programs are part of a cyber security course plan. As such, many feature Comp Sci classics. Like programming and cryptography. But there are a few courses that focus in a deep way on the practices and theories of forensics. For instance, cyber and privacy laws, and ethics.

Here’s a list of sample topics you may find in a computer forensics study plan.

  • Mobile device forensics, and malware
  • Fraud and how to investigate it
  • Psychology of cyber crime
  • Incident response and timeline analysis
  • Reverse engineering and malware
computer forensics degree

How Long Does It Take For a Cyber Forensics Degree?

A bachelor’s degree in computer forensics often takes a full time student four years. That said, many people earn their computer forensics degree online. Online programs may fast track your pace. They do this if you take a very full course load. And, no breaks in between.

You may also have some transfer credits. For instance, from an associate degree or military experience. In these cases, you may have fewer credits to do. After your four year degree, you may want to earn your master’s. If so, most cyber security master’s programs take from 18 months to two years.

Top Schools for Computer Forensic Degrees

NCES lists 709 institutions with Computer Forensics Degree programs. From those schools, 264 degrees were awarded to students in 2016.

School2016 Degrees awarded2018/19 Graduate Tuition
Champlain College104$38,600
University of Maryland University College96$12,000
Excelsior College54$32,800
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania39$17,700 (out of state)
University of Baltimore35$18,256 (out of state)
Robert Morris University29$27,320
Farmingdale State College28$16,320 (out of state)
George Mason University28$29,486 (out of state)
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice19$13,440 (out of state)
Keiser University Ft Lauderdale28$17,488

This program entails 120 credits with the possibility to use up to 90 transfer credits. The focus in on using industry standard digital forensics tools.

Courses Include:

  • Malware Forensics
  • Intro to Operating Systems
  • Criminal Investigation

Key Skills:

  • Apply and interpret digital evidence laws
  • Scientific methods
  • Critical thinking
School Features
• 4 year private not for profit college
• National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education
• NECHE Accredited
More Programs
• Computer & Information Systems
• Cybersecurity
• Computer Science
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 99% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $17,090
• 64% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,311
2

University of Maryland Global Campus

This is a 36 credit program. It centers around investigation, leadership and executive skills. These areas intend to grow your ability to handle complex cyber threats and incidents.

Courses Include:

  • Advanced Forensics
  • Digital Forensics Tech & Practices
  • Capstone in Cybersecurity

Key Skills:

  • Problem solving
  • Conduct hands on forensic searches
  • Detect data breaches
School Features
• 4 year public university
• National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense,
• MSCHE Accredited
More Programs
• Computer Networks & Cybersecurity
• Cybersecurity Management & Policy
• Cyber Operations
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 35% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $3,659
• 23% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $8,247
3

Robert Morris University

This 120 credit program was formerly a BS in Cyber Forensics and Information Assurance. The option still exists to delve into digital forensics while also cyber security basics.

Courses Include:

  • Cyberlaw
  • Digital Evidence Analysis
  • Computer & Network Security

Key Skills:

  • Argument & research
  • Database management
  • Professional conduct
School Features
• 4 Year public university
• National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education
• MSCHE Accredited
More Programs
• Cyber Sec
• Data Analytics
• Information Sciences
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 99% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $18,103
• 69% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $6,981

This program is planned out over 20 months and entails 31 credits. It is ideally for current  workers with IT or cyber experience who want to hone leader and technical skills.

Courses Include:

  • Cyber Incident Response
  • Operational Policy
  • Secure Software Design

Key Skills:

  • Deeper understanding of theories
  • Management and risk
  • Cryptography
School Features
• 4 year private not for profit university
• WASC accredited
• Online graduate programs
More Programs
• Computer Science
• Conflict Management & Resolution
• JD/MA Peace & Law
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 80% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $28,658
• 42% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $6,574

This four course graduate certificate is a stand alone program or add on to the M.S. It discusses basics of computer networks and proper storage of evidence. Also federal rules and criminal codes.

Courses Include:

  • Network forensics
  • Mobile Forensics
  • Malware Basics

Key Skills:

  • Strategic security management
  • How threat actors choose targets
  • Data analysis
School Features
• 4 year not for profit university
• NECHE accredited
• Digital forensics lab
More Programs
• Cyber Resiliency
• Cybersecurity & Health Care Administration
• Data Science
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 100% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $22,285
• 78% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $6,635
6

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

In this 120 credit program the focus is on the tech side of investigating computer crimes. It goes through all aspects of cyber. Both about reacting to and being proactive about security.

Courses Include:

  • Digital Forensics Software
  • Security
  • Database Design

Key Skills:

  • Examine computers and smart phones
  • Recover deleted pictures, documents and internet activity
  • Explore hidden areas on hard disks
School Features
• 4 year public university
• National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense Education
• MSCHE accredited
More Programs
• Computer Science
• Criminal Justice
• Information Technology
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 60% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $5,998
• 78% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $6,313
7

Florida State University

This program entails 120 credits. It unites criminology, criminal justice (CJ) and computer science into one bachelor of science degree. You thus study crimes, computers and security.

Courses Include:

  • Cybercrime Detection
  • Computer Security Basics
  • CJ System Responses

Key Skills:

  • How crimes occur on computers
  • Research methods
  • Computer & network security
School Features
• 4 year pubic university
• Combined bachelor's/master's pathways
• SACSCOC accredited
More Programs
• Law Enforcement
• Cyber Criminology
• Computer Science
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 96% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $7,685
• 29% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $6,932
8

University of Baltimore

This 80 credit program targets those with an associate’s degree who want to expand their skills. It exposes students to all aspects of data recovery from computers and digital devices.

Courses Include:

  • Cyber Crime and the Law
  •  Operating System Forensics
  • Mobile Forensics

Key Skills:

  • Forensic analysis of documents
  • Understanding of ethical hacking
  • Documentation
School Features
• 4 year public university
• MSCHE accredited
• Mentoring for National Cyber League competition
More Programs
• Forensic Science & Cyber Investigations
• Crime Scene Investigations
• Cybersecurity
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 89% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $4,994
• 28% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $7,336

This program spans 71 credits. Coursework aims to support students in growing the skills necessary to investigate computer crime. It also touches on PC troubleshooting and CISCO networking

Courses Include:

  • Internet Forensics
  • Digital Crime Investigation
  • Intro to Electronic Crime

Key Skills:

  • Evaluate computer hardware and software
  • Develop organization security policies

Manage the security of a network system

School Features
• 4 year public university
• NCCU accredited
More Programs
• Cybersecurity - Compliance
• Network Security
• Information Management
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 81% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $3,634
• 12% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $4,032
10

In this program you take 121 credits. It is a technical course plan that is about facing security threats from malware and unauthorized access.

Courses Include:

  • Biometric Recognition
  • Digital Signal & Image Processing
  • Cryptography

Key Skills:

  • Critical thinking
  • Computer skills for the security industry
  • Leadership and ethics
School Features
• 4 year public university
• SUNY's largest college of applied science & technology
• MSCHE accredited
More Programs
• Computer Science
• Business Analytics
• Criminal Justice / Law Enforcement
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 60% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $7,256
• 29% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $6,021

This program explores the world of cyber while covering networks and networking. Including local area networks, remote access, data recovery, data analysis and basic reverse engineering.

Courses Include:

  • Cyber Law and Ethics
  • Script Programming
  • Network Administration

Key Skills:

  • Basics of network security
  • Forensic investigation methods
  • Understanding of mobile, wireless and remote access tech
School Features
• 2 year public college
• HLC accredited
• National Center of Academic Excellence
• Designated as a Cyber Patriot Center of Excellence by the Air Force Association
More Programs
• Computer Information Technology
• Information Assurance Education
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 74% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $2,577
• 20% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $4,070
12

This program comprises 61 credits. It focuses on criminal justice and computer security skills. Along with these areas, you study economics and management.

Courses Include:

  • Computer Crime
  • Constitutional Law
  • Linux Operating System

Key Skills:

  • Problem solving
  • Computer programming
  • Ethics & professionalism
School Features
• 4 year public college
• HLC accredited
• Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
More Programs
• Aerial Sensing Data Analytics
• Internet of Things (IoT) Cyber Technician
• Computer Science
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 65% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $3,325
• 24% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $4,300
13

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

This 120 credit program draws primarily from chemistry (organic, analytical and physical). It also features courses in biology, physics and law. You can tailor studies with a focal area in toxicology, molecular biology, or criminalistics.

Courses Include:

  • Calculus I,II
  • Instrumental Analysis
  • Law & Evidence

Key Skills:

  • Draw conclusions using science
  • Problem solving
  • Data collection
School Features
• 4 year public college
• MSCHE accredited
More Programs
• Criminal Justice
• Forensic Psychology
• Fraud Examination
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 82% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $8,267
• 5% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $5,854
14

Excelsior College

The total credit hours for this program is 120 but the school allows up to 117 eligible transfer credits. You may focus your degree in cyber operations which is about homeland security. Or keep a general course plan, depending on your intended career path.

Courses Include:

  • Cyber Attacks & Defense
  • Network & Application Security
  • Computer Forensics

Key Skills:

  • Describe defensive network architecture
  • Evaluate and apply industry tools to respond to cyber incident
  • Create cyber reports
School Features
• 4 year private not for profit college
• MSCHE accredited
• National Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense
More Programs
• Cyber Security
• Technical Studies
• Information Technology
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• N/A% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $3,200
• N/A% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $7,393
15

This program entails 126 credits. It is about developing cyber resilient systems that protect hardware and software. For those who prefer, there is an accelerated B.S. / M.S. option too.

Courses Include:

  • Secure RF Communications
  • Cyber Vulnerability Lab
  • Cryptography

Key Skills:

  • Understand integrated cyber / physical systems
  • Oral communications
  • Math and statistics
School Features
• 4 year public university
• SACSCOC accredited
More Programs
• Computer Science
• Data Analysis
• Forensic Science
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 62% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $7,507
• 47% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $6,737
16

Keiser University - Ft. Lauderdale

This is a 60 credit completion program for associate degree grads in computer areas.  It focuses on basic forensic methods used to collect, keep, analyze and report digital network evidence.

Courses Include:

  • Security Policies
  • White Collar & Economic Crime
  • Digital Media Forensics

Key Skills:

  • Use of information systems security tools
  • Critical thinking & communication
  • Analyze legal aspects of prosecuting computer crimes
School Features
• 4 year private not for profit
• SACSCOC accredited
More Programs
• Crime Scene Technology
• Forensic Investigations
• Financial Crime Investigations
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 84% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $7,015
• 70% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $11,733
17

Sacred Heart University

This technical program entails 120 credits including capstone and internship. You can choose between two areas of focus. Cyber operations and cyber defense.

Courses Include:

  • Forensic Computing
  • Cryptography
  • Software & System Security

Key Skills:

  • Apply security principles
  • Analyze and evaluate systems
  • Teamwork
School Features
• 4 year private not for profit university
• NECHE accredited
• Cybersecurity lab
More Programs
• Computer Science
• Computer Gaming
• Information Technology
• Forensic Accounting
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 99% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $16,941
• 67% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $6,542
18

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

This is a 30 credit program. It focuses on the enterprise and business in the Information Age. How cyber crime leads to financial loss. And at the impacts of faulty design and bad data.

Courses Include:

  • Risk Management
  • Informative
  • Cyber Law & Compliance

Key Skills:

  • Knowledge of complex threats
  • Enterprise wide strategy
  • Management skills related to security
School Features
• 4 year private not for profit university
• SACSCOC accredited
More Programs
• Emergency Services
• Cyber Intelligence & Security
• Homeland Security
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 46% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $2,543
• 17% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $7,281

This program entails 180 quarter credits and allows up to 135 eligible transfer credits. It focuses on the skills that support security systems in online banking, health care, national security and beyond.

Courses Include:

  • Cyber Attacks & Ethical Hacking
  • Operating Systems & App Security
  • Computer Forensics

Key Skills:

  • Evaluate security policies
  • Social engineering
  • Access control & authentication
School Features
• 4 year private not for profit university
• HLC accredited
More Programs
• Information Technology
• Software Development
• Data Analytics
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 93% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $3,781
• 100% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $8,595
20

Guilford Technical Community College

You complete 67 to 69 credits for this program. It focuses on trends in cyber crime and the forensic tools and methods to recovery data and prep for trial. You study these skills for desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and different operating systems.

Courses Include:

  • Computer Crime Investigation
  • Penetration Testing
  • Constitutional Law

Key Skills:

  • Identify current ethical issues in computer technology
  • Use appropriate software to monitor network traffic
  • Identify network vulnerabilities
School Features
• 2 year public college
• SACSCOC accredited
More Programs
• Computer Science
• Information Technology
• Security & Data Assurance
2018 / 19 Undergraduate Financial Aid
• 71% of students are awarded grants or scholarships. On average $3,971
• 29% of students are awarded federal loans in the average amount of $6,051

Computer Forensic Careers

Earning a computer forensic degree may prep you to launch or further a career in info sec. At the moment, info sec analysts earn an average of $99,730 a year. And, the job market is hot. By 2029, BLS.gov predicts a 31% surge in the number of jobs.

With the skills of a forensic computer analyst, you may work with private firms. Or, within the criminal justice field, with gov’t or law enforcement.

CareerEntry level educationAverage Median SalaryProjected growth rate

Forensic Computer Analyst

Bachelor’s degree$90,9207%

Information Security Analyst

Bachelor’s degree$99,73031%

Computer and Cyber Forensic Certifications

Many computer forensics programs serve as study guides for extra certifications. These come from industry agencies. And usually involve an exam.

Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)

The CHFI certification is for people with a back ground in computer hacking forensics. So it may help to validate your investigative skills.

Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE)

A certified forensic examiner displays knowledge, skills and aptitude to run a standard incident investigation. They usually do this for the legal and law enforcement industries. A such, the GCFE focus is on core skills and the uses on Windows computer systems.

Certified Computer Examiner (CCE)

The ISFCE offers the CCE. And, is a credential many need when working in gov’t agencies. One goal of the CCE credential is to certify forensic examiners. It shows they can provide a fair and neutral investigation. Also, it sets high standards for the profession.

Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE)

The CFCE Certification program proves the holder has expertise. And pertain to the core skills needed in the field of computer forensics.

Southern New Hampshire University Cyber Security Programs
Some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates.

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