Computer forensics specialists play an increasingly important role in the field of police work and criminal investigation. Undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in computer forensics are usually offered jointly by a computer science or information technology department and a criminal justice department. These online programs are available at four-year institutions, career schools and private schools catering towards distance education.
Students might decide to pursue this certificate option instead of a degree, or they might want to supplement their bachelor's degree with a certificate to show advanced expertise in computer forensics. Online certificates in this field are sometimes offered at the post-baccalaureate or graduate level; in these cases, students must have a bachelor's degree to be eligible for admission.
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Certificate in Computer Forensics
While distance learning students in these programs must complete the same courses as on-campus students, their coursework is delivered in a virtual classroom environment containing assignments, lectures and communication tools. Students in a computer forensics certificate program study computer and information technology, cyber and computer criminal statutes, evidence management and investigation procedures. They will learn how to apply their technical know-how to investigate or prevent criminal activity.
Course topics may include the following:
- Analysis of digital media
- Computer and network security
- Criminal law
- Forensic accounting
- Forensic technology
- Operating systems
- White-collar crime
- Data retrieval
Possible Career Options
Computer forensics training prepares graduates for careers in criminal investigation and prevention, as well as computer network security consulting. Candidates may find work with law enforcement agencies, government agencies, military branches and any other large organization or network service provider that requires forensic expertise to investigate and monitor internal network security incidents. Potential employment opportunities include the following:
- Computer forensics analyst
- Security specialist
- Forensic consultant
- Database analyst
- Computer security engineer
- Information technology consultant
Online undergraduate and graduate certificates in computer forensics are multi-disciplinary, combining information technology studies with instruction in relevant legal topics. Students who finish can apply their knowledge in careers related to cyber crime prevention.