There are many undergraduate and graduate online degree programs in computer crime. These programs can usually be completed totally online through lesson videos and message boards. Other programs are hybrids, with courses offered online and on campus.
Most bachelor's degree courses in computer crime, such as cybercrime, computer forensics and forensic accounting, are part of computer science degree programs. Master's degree programs focused on cybercrime and computer forensics include topics in investigating computer crime, forensic accounting techniques, international security and terrorism. Some master's degree programs may require an internship or practicum in the field, and they might only admit applicants with work experience.
Bachelor's in Computer Crime
Computer crime is a very fast-growing field. Degree programs in the field include computer crime, cybercrime or forensic accounting. Students might take classes in computer science, criminal behavior or accounting. They might also learn how to use a computer to track or uncover criminal activity.
Information and Requirements
A bachelor's degree program usually takes a minimum of four years to complete. Programs generally follow a regular university calendar, and students must complete the work within a specific time frame. Some programs require online attendance at a given time while others allow the students to work at their own pace whenever they can. Completely online programs are available.
This kind of work requires an eye for detail as well as a good grounding in the law concerning computer crime. Students might take a course in protecting a computer network from criminal invasion or tracking criminal activity using a computer.
Most programs include a general introductory class in computer forensics. This is the art of investigating information found on a computer and associated devices to determine the sequence of events and participants.
This class teaches the necessary steps involved in building a case against a criminal. Specific crimes have different methods of investigation.
Economic crimes usually involve manipulating information on computer networks or the Internet. Topics provide information on scams and phishing. It might also cover the ways people use the Internet to steal.
Finding fraud in banking involves knowledge of both accounting and criminal statutes. This class provides the necessary accounting and computer information to enable someone to search for clues in monetary fraud cases.
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Master's in Computer Crime
Many programs exist that students can pursue for graduate work in cybercrime. Programs are tailored to people who are interested in each aspect of computer crime detection. Class work might include forensic accounting, criminal law, computer security or a variety of related topics.
Prerequisites for these programs depend on the nature of the program. A forensic accounting master's, for example, probably require the student to have an undergraduate degree in accounting. A program more tailored to computer security might require an undergraduate computer degree.
Information and Requirements
Master's degree programs usually require a minimum of one year's work beyond a bachelor's degree. The available online programs tend to follow the regular school calendar.
Classes can be offered at a specific time or as independent study at the student's convenience. The method of instruction might be an online 'class' or a series of exercises completed at a student's convenience or within a specified time frame. Many programs require some kind of practicum. Totally online programs are available.
Depending on the emphasis chosen by the student, classes usually involve a variety of topics relating to using computers to commit or solve crimes. Issues concerning terrorism or national security might also be included.
This is an introductory overview class on how computers have impacted international security. It covers how such surveillance might be done along with the laws concerning its use.
This class covers the nuts and bolts of investigating criminal activity on a computer. It includes topics in privacy issues and the legal aspects of such investigations.
Counterterrorism and Computers
Students examine the various aspects of international security as it relates to terrorism. The course discusses the use of computers in terrorist activities.
Graduates of bachelor's degree programs may work in law enforcement or as a computer security analyst. Jobs exist in a variety of federal agencies like customs or homeland security. A computer network specialist might secure a job to protect and verify the safety of a computer network. Jobs can be found with various governmental agencies as well as private corporations. The banking industry, for example, might hire a graduate to monitor banking transactions in an effort to prevent criminal activity.
According to PayScale.com, computer network administrators earned a median annual wage of $58,655 as of October 2016. Detectives or criminal investigators earned a median annual wage of $55,740, and accountants earned $49,171 in the same year. PayScale.com also states that forensic accountants made a median annual salary of $64,520 as of October 2016. The addition of computer forensics experience to any of these fields might enhance both salary and job prospects.
Graduates of master's degree programs may work in law enforcement as well as for a variety of federal agencies like customs or homeland security. The master's degree also prepares students for a management career overseeing people who do computer investigations.
Salary information is difficult to quantify because of the variety of possible career paths. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, citing a 2015 national survey, stated that median weekly earnings for master's degree program graduates were about $200 more than for bachelor's degree holders (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Computer forensics can be added as a certificate at any level of education. Most programs do not require continuing education, but with the rapid growth of technology, updating one's skills is essential.
Accountants can pursue various levels of certification if desired. Licensure as a CPA, for example, might enhance job prospects and salaries as well. Accounting jobs are generally considered to be growing at a much faster rate than other jobs. The American College of Forensic Examiners International offers certification for forensic accountants. The Forensic CPA Society also offers certification paths.
Accountants with advanced certifications and a computer network specialist with an advanced degree or certification in a field related to cybercrime might experience enhanced prospects and higher salaries.
Criminals are finding new ways to commit fraud and criminal activity every day. Therefore, while continuing education is not required for most computer specialties, keeping up-to-date in the fast-growing computer field can be helpful.
Computer crime bachelor's and master's degree programs can be completed completely online or through hybrid formats that include on-campus courses; internships and practicums might also be required for some graduate programs. Courses such as cybercrime investigations and forensic accounting prepare students for careers in computer network administration, criminal investigation and forensic accounting, among others.