While computer forensics programs are more common on campus, it is possible to find fully online programs. Majors with computer forensics courses include computer forensics and information technology.These programs are also available in hybrid formats that combine online coursework with on-campus labs and as concentrations through other programs, like computer information systems. In addition to online courses in criminal law, criminal investigation and network forensics, students also have the option of completing an internship. Students may need Windows XP or Vista, and plug-ins such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Flash Player, Java 1.5 and Real Player.
Additionally, some states require computer forensic investigators to be licensed as private investigators, but this requirement varies. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that even in those states without licensure requirements, a private investigator license can be useful for gaining employment in the field.
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Forensics
An online bachelor's degree program in computer forensics prepares graduates for work with law enforcement, private businesses and other entities to uncover and prevent computer crime. Graduates should be able to gather electronic evidence without compromising original data, develop a computer forensics process that will hold up in court and recover deleted or damaged computer files. A computer forensics program covers topics such as global forensics, legal concerns surrounding computer use, network forensic activity, data modeling, money laundering and information systems security planning.
Program Information and Requirements
Computer forensics bachelor's degree programs are sometimes offered as an information technology degree with a concentration in computer forensics. Some programs also allow students to incorporate on-campus courses. Students participating in an online bachelor's degree program in computer forensics can access course materials at any time and are able to interact with professors and other students via online platforms.
Technical requirements for online computer forensics programs include an updated operating system, such as Windows XP or Vista, and an updated Internet browser, such as the latest editions of Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. Plug-ins such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Flash Player, Java 1.5 and Real Player may also be required.
An online computer forensics bachelor's degree curriculum often combines specialized computer forensics and general information systems coursework. General education courses are typically included in a student's degree plan.
Basic Computer Forensics
This course offers students an introduction to the basic legal and technological aspects of computer forensics and the process of gathering digital evidence. Topics include computer crime statutes, criminal activity, evidentiary procedures, investigation of unethical computer activity and basic networking concepts.
Advanced Computer Forensics
This course looks at the advanced aspects of digital forensics investigations. The course covers preparation of court testimony, international computer crime and network operating systems investigation techniques.
A database management course often places emphasis on the relational model. The course may cover topics such as installing database management systems, structured query language (SQL), grant access privileges, data modeling and database configuration.
Employment settings for graduates of online bachelor's degree programs in computer forensics include government agencies, software development companies, law firms, law enforcement agencies and businesses with computer networks. Potential job titles include counterintelligence analyst, web developer, IT investigator, computer systems analyst and computer forensics specialist. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of private investigators is expected to grow by 5% from 2014-2024, an increase largely due to computer-based crimes like identity theft and e-mail harassment (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
For individuals interested in additional education, there are computer forensics master's degree or graduate certificate programs available. Most programs are campus-based, but some schools do offer their curriculum online in its entirety. A master's degree in the field usually takes 2 years to complete and may require a final thesis paper. Many students can receive a graduate certificate after 1-2 years of coursework.
Online bachelor's programs in computer forensics teach students skills needed to uncover and prevent computer crime. Graduates may work in a variety of fields, including private investigation, counterintelligence and IT investigation.