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Schools with Digital Forensics Programs: How to Choose

Digital forensics programs are available at a number of schools in the United States. With options ranging from certificates to undergraduate and graduate degrees, students may pursue a number of educational paths in this field.

Digital forensics, also known as computer forensics, focuses on evidence-gathering from computers as part of criminal investigation; professionals in this field analyze and store evidence so it can be admitted into court. Associate and bachelor's degree programs are available for entry-level students, while master's programs teach practical investigative techniques and may offer the opportunity to practice theoretical concepts and research in the field.

Digital Forensics Schools

A number of institutions offer digital forensics programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition
(2015-2016)*
University of Rhode Island Kingston, RI 4-year, Public Certificate, Bachelor's (Minor), Master's, Graduate Certificate Undergraduate: In-state $12,862; Out-of-state $28,852; Graduate: In-state $11,796; Out-of state $24,206
Champlain College Burlington, VT 4-year, Private Certificate, Bachelor's, Master's, Graduate Certificate Undergraduate $37,536; Graduate $14,202
University of Maryland - University College Adelphi, MD 4-year, Public Master's, Graduate Certificate Graduate: In-state $8,244; Out-of state $11,862
University of Central Florida Orlando, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: In-state $6,368; Out-of-state $22,467; Graduate: In-state $6,916; Out-of state $25,759
Madison Area Technical College Madison, WI 4-year, Public Certificate Undergraduate: In-state $4,217; Out-of-state $6,143
Missouri Southern State University Joplin, MO 4-year, Public Bachelor's Undergraduate: In-state $5,523; Out-of-state $10,480
Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX 4-year, Public Master's Graduate: In-state $5,139; Out-of state $12,159
Boston University Metropolitan College Boston, MA 4-year, Private Graduate Certificate Graduate $47,422
St. Petersburg College Clearwater, FL 4-year, Public Associate's Undergraduate: In-state $3,352; Out-of-state $11,607

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

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School Selection Criteria

Students might consider several points when selecting a digital forensics school.

  • Seek programs that prepare graduates for certification by technical organizations like CompTIA.
  • Select programs that include specialized coursework, such as instruction in cell phones and other handheld digital devices; these provide a broader knowledge base than programs that only include computer training.
  • Examine your career goals; in many programs, students may concentrate in criminal investigation or information security through elective coursework.
  • Consider whether online or on-campus programs best suit your schedule and learning style.

Certificates

Certificate programs in digital forensics are typically offered as continuing education options and may be designed for students who already have some computer and information systems experience.

Associate Degrees

Associate degree programs in digital forensics may be completed in two years and can qualify students for entry-level positions. Students may have the opportunity to choose from multiple educational tracks, including security or investigation. An internship may be required.

Bachelor's Degrees

Bachelor's degree programs can be completed in four years and are typically designed to qualify students for both employment and certification. An internship may be required, as may be preparatory courses for professional and technical certifications.

Master's Degrees

Master's degree programs in digital forensics often take two years to complete and are designed for graduates of a bachelor's degree program. Master's degree programs may allow students to specialize in academic research or professional practice.

Certificates and degrees in digital or computer forensics can prepare individuals to pursue careers in criminal investigation by retrieving evidence from computers and computer systems. These programs are available at a number of institutions at the undergraduate and graduate level.


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