Degree Programs in Computer Forensics

Computer forensics is an emerging field of study concerned with recovering and analyzing criminal evidence found in computers and other digital storage media. These degree programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels.

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Essential Information

Students in the associate's and bachelor's computer forensics programs learn to collect and analyze digital evidence and may pursue voluntary computer forensics certifications upon graduation. Master's degree programs are often for working professionals. Students in these programs take advanced courses that teach them how to prevent and detect cyber attacks, as well as recovering from them.

Most associate's and bachelor's degree programs require a high school diploma, standardized test scores, and criminal background check. Master's programs require a bachelor's degree in computer forensics or a related field and standardized test scores. Some of these programs are available online.


Associate's Degree in Computer Forensics

An associate's degree program in computer forensics is designed to prepare individuals for entry-level jobs in digital security. Degree candidates study the criminal justice system, including courtroom procedures and search and seizure regulations, along with computer networking and security. Many associate's degree programs in computer forensics also feature internships, where degree candidates work as apprentice computer forensics technicians under direct supervision. Most associate's degree programs in computer forensics can be completed in two years.

An associate's degree program in computer forensics features a topical curriculum with elective opportunities. Sample course titles may include the following:

  • Introductory criminal justice
  • Ethics
  • Computer networking
  • Criminology
  • Criminal law
  • Accounting

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Forensics

A bachelor's degree program in computer forensics is designed to teach the basic skills needed for detecting and preventing digital crime. Degree candidates study the methods and means of information technology management along with digital evidence investigative procedures. Individuals also explore the latest software tools used for collecting and analyzing computer forensic evidence. Bachelor's degree programs in computer forensics can be completed in 4-5 years.

In addition to the core computer forensics curriculum, degree candidates must complete a set number of liberal arts and humanities electives. Some programs also feature foreign language requirements. Sample core course titles include the following:

  • Networking and security
  • Digital evidence laws
  • Forensic science history
  • Website safety
  • Digital forensics research

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Master's Degree in Computer Forensics

Master's degree programs in computer forensics are generally offered as Master of Science degrees. Candidates in Master of Science in Computer Forensics degree programs study the advanced techniques for spotting, stopping and solving cybercrime attacks. Some computer forensics master's degree programs are designed for working computer security or forensics professionals who seek higher-paying employment opportunities. Most degree programs feature a graduate thesis or research project as a final graduation requirement. These programs can usually be completed in two years.

The curriculum of a master's degree program in computer forensics generally features a few elective requirements. Core course titles may include the following:

  • Advanced digital evidence collection techniques
  • Wireless security
  • Software vulnerability
  • Digital evidence processing
  • Theories and methods of investigative analysis

Popular Career Options

Many job openings for computer forensics professionals require bachelor's degrees; however, computer forensics associate's degree holders may find entry-level employment opportunities with government agencies at the state or local level. Possible job titles are included below:

  • Computer security assistant
  • Information technology technician
  • Digital security apprentice

Graduates of bachelor's degree programs in computer forensics should find themselves eligible for a wide range of computer security and forensic jobs. Sample job titles may include the following:

  • Computer network analyst
  • Digital safety officer
  • Information technology specialist

Most graduates of a master's degree program in computer forensics seek employment as computer forensics investigators, where they will collect and analyze digital information to be used in criminal investigations. Other possible job titles include the following:

  • Cybercrime consultant
  • Cryptographic attack specialist
  • Internet security officer

Continuing Education Information

For those who want to continue their educations after earning an associate's degree, a host of bachelor's and graduate computer forensics degree programs are available. Some associate's degree programs in computer forensics are designed so graduates can enter bachelor's degree programs as third-year students. Applicants should check the transfer credit policies of their desired institutions. More information about computer forensics bachelor's and graduate degree programs is contained below.

Graduates of bachelor's programs may continue their studies in pursuit of master's degrees in computer or digital forensics. More information about this program is contained below.

Those who pursue professional computer forensics positions after earning their bachelor's degrees may find it advantageous to take one or several computer forensics software certification exams. These voluntary certifications, such as the EnCase Certified Examiner certification, may improve chances for securing employment and earning promotions.

Degree programs in computer forensics can be earned at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students pursuing an undergraduate degree focus on basic skills for finding and preventing digital crime, while graduate students complete more advanced courses in evidence collection and investigating.

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