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
|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)
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.
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 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 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 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.