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As a rapidly growing field, computer forensics continues to demand qualified forensic examiners to lead the industry. Earning a Master’s in Computer Forensics provides students with a solid foundation as they pursue computer forensics careers, whether it is at a technical or managerial level.
This master’s degree often involves the mastery of computer forensic investigation techniques that seek to address numerous activities, including fraud, information theft, digital espionage, and counter-terrorism.
Information Security Analysts, according to the Labor Statistics Bureau, can earn a median annual pay of $112,000. Other occupations within this field include computer forensic examiners, incident response examiners, digital forensic analysts malware analysts, and computer forensic investigators, among others.
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There are many online programs in computer forensics offered by universities and colleges in the country. This master’s program in computer forensics prepares graduates for a rewarding and lucrative career in the exciting field of digital forensics examination. They will also get to explore forensic tool development, validation and forensic administration, and tool verification.
If you are passionate about digital evidence investigations, then pursuing this master’s degree is an ideal choice.
Quick audio summary:
The field of digital forensics is continually evolving, and becoming ever more crucial in today’s highly digitalized world. Exciting career paths are open to those wanting to enter the field, and it is crucial that they get the best and most advanced training and preparation that they can.
We can help with that! We have put together a list of graduate schools that offer the best online master’s in Computer forensics programs. Each program was selected based on the following characteristics:
- Offers their degrees primarily or entirely online,
- Features a well-designed comprehensive curriculum that covers a wide range of topics and skills related to the field of digital investigations,
- Prepares students with the skills to earn a range of in-demand industry certifications,
- Taught by faculty who have extensive experience and expertise in the field as scholars and/or practitioners,
- Features competitive tuition rates, and a wide range of cost-management options like financial aid,
- and, Holds the appropriate accreditation credentials.
Read our Methodology page for details.
Best Online Master’s in Computer Forensics Programs
University of Maryland Global Campus
Since its founding in 1947, the University of Maryland Global Campus has been making state university education affordable and accessible to working adults. It offers high-quality online education to help undergraduate and graduate students advance their careers and plan their next steps to success. Students can study at their own pace, anytime and anywhere.
- The University of Maryland Global Campus offers the Master’s in Digital Forensics &Cyber Investigation program to help prospective students develop advanced knowledge and skills integral to becoming digital forensics experts.
- Students are expected to hone their expertise in analyzing and mitigating cybercrime with the aid of investigative and leadership skills.
- To earn the program, a total of 36 credits should be completed, with core courses including Cyberspace and Cybersecurity Foundations, Digital Forensics Technology and Practices, and Digital Forensic Response and Analysis.
The program is designed to help students prepare for various industry certification exams. This includes the EnCase Certified Examiner, GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA), GIAC Network Forensic Analyst (GNFA), and EC-Council Certified Incident Handler, among others.
Did You Know?
Apart from the online courses offered anywhere in the globe, UMGC also features more than 175 classrooms and locations all over the world. This includes military installations. True to its commitment to serving the military, the university offers tuition assistance and veterans benefits.
They also understand the challenges faced by servicemen as they pursue their academic degrees, allowing them to ensure that veterans and military members are well supported.
University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university founded in 1963. The university has 13 colleges, offering more than 240 degree programs. On top of its on-campus programs, interested students may also take advantage of its fully online programs, from bachelor’s degrees to graduate degrees and certificates.
- The online Master of Science in Digital Forensics program offered at the University of Central Florida requires the completion of 30 credit hours.
- The online master’s degree allows students to explore today’s cutting-edge topics, including digital threats, crimes, and security.
- Students are expected to solve important problems and take on leadership roles in the field of digital evidence investigations.
- The skills that undergraduates acquire include communication, problem-solving, and computer technology along with a better understanding of computer crime and cybersecurity.
The program is designed through the efforts and collaboration of different online departments in the University of Central Florida, including the departments of Forensic Science of Chemistry Criminal Justice & Legal Studies, Computer Science, and Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Did You Know?
Initially, the University of Central Florida was established to provide talent for the growing US space program. It has since developed a reputation for academic excellence, having built partnerships in numerous fields. It is a research leader in the fields of optics and lasers, hospitality management, video game design, modeling and simulation, engineering and computer science, and so much more.
University of the Cumberlands
Established in 1913, the University of the Cumberlands has remained committed to providing quality and accessible education to young adults. Currently, it offers more than 40 majors in its undergraduate programs and 10 focus areas for its graduate programs. It is serving more than 14,000 graduate students to date.
- The Master’s in Digital Forensics at the University of the Cumberlands equips students with the knowledge and critical skills integral to dealing with the growing cybersecurity issues in the Information Technology industry.
- Students will be able to prepare for advanced training and roles in the public and private sectors, often assisting law enforcement agencies in the recovery and investigation of lost data due to computer crime, abuse, fraud, and a host of other illegal activities in cyberspace.
- A total of 31 credits must be completed to earn the digital forensics program, covering core courses such as Investigation and Triage, Digital Forensics Evidence, Windows Digital Forensics, and Wireless Security Forensics, among others.
This online master’s degree offers two specialization options to students who want to stand out in the computer forensics field and tailor their learning to their career goals and needs. This includes Cybersecurity and Criminal Justice.
The program culminates into a Digital Forensics Capstone. This final project gives computer forensics graduates the opportunity to design cybersecurity incidents, analyze data, and create a response plan.
Did You Know?
The University of the Cumberlands launched the Cumberlands Commitment in 2018. This program reduced tuition by 57%, making higher education more affordable for any student. The policy also expanded to include complimentary books, free textbooks, and $9,875 in tuition.
As a career-focused business and accounting school, Champlain College grew from its humble beginnings in 1878 into a reputable higher learning institution that offers traditional and online programs to help students succeed.
At present, the college has more than 60 online degrees and certificates on offer. The online courses can be accessed 24/7, making it a convenient choice for busy computer forensics professionals.
- Champlain College offers a nationally recognized digital forensics education with its Master’s in Digital Forensics Science program.
- The online program’s cutting-edge digital forensics curriculum harnesses the power of emerging technology and new industry trends, taught by expert practitioner instructors.
- Online students learn how to gather and utilize digital evidence along with the application of investigative techniques to real-world situations.
- They will gain technical expertise such as scripting languages and cloud software applications as well as advanced soft skills that encompass leadership and communication.
Home of the Senator Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Investigation & Cybersecurity, Champlain College’s computer forensics program can benefit from the college’s multiple designations. This includes a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education recognition from the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.
Champlain College is also a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence, as the Defense Cyber Crime Center Air Force Office of Special Investigations (DC3) designated.
Did You Know?
Champlain College is known to keep its class sizes small and manageable. This gives the faculty and advisors more room to focus on students’ success from the beginning of their journey all the way through graduation. This means academic advisors have ample time and dedication to provide the support students need to meet and succeed in their academic goals.
Sam Houston State University
With more than 135 years of experience in providing quality and accessible education, Sam Houston State University features a blend of instructional technologies and state-of-the-art distance education advancements. The university was recognized nationally for some of the best online master’s programs in the US.
- Sam Houston State University has offered an MS in Digital Forensics since 2004, making it the first of its kind in the country.
- The master’s degree in computer forensics prepares students to develop new approaches when it comes to detecting, preserving, and analyzing digital evidence.
- This digital forensics online program admits students who hold a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Criminal Justice, or similar fields.
The MS in Digital Forensics degree allows students to take advantage of state-of-the-art facilities, including the Center of Excellence in Digital Forensics. The latter houses a Network Security Lab, accommodating training in data, prevention and tracing, and network and cyber security intrusion detection.
Did You Know?
Quality and convenience are at the heart of Sam Houston State University. It does not differentiate between online degrees and traditional degrees, offering students the same high-quality academic programs regardless of the delivery. It offers more than 40 degree programs that are fully available online.
The university received a Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges accreditation.
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
Michigan State University is a public, land-grant, research university in the city of East Lansing, Michigan. It was first established in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan and adopted the state university name in 1964.
Michigan State University, an Association of American Universities member, is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity.” It currently has a population of almost 50,000 students.
- Michigan State offers the MS in Cybercrime and Digital Investigation program, which equips students with digital forensics skills that are crucial to identifying and curbing cybercrime.
- The program contains a total of 30 credit hours and can be completed in 2 years.
- The program features a curriculum that focuses on the human aspects of cybercrime and covers the offenders, victims, and threat response community. Students also study other forms of contemporary cyber threats beyond the traditional economic and interpersonal forms of cybercrime.
Michigan State University designed its MS in Cybercrime and Digital Investigation program to accommodate students who come from both technical and non-technical backgrounds. The program is also taught by faculty who have extensive expertise working with major government agencies including the FBI, DHS, and the DOD.
Did You Know?
Michigan State University also offers two other Criminal Justice graduate degree programs online: the Master of Science in Law Enforcement Intelligence and Analysis, and the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice.
University at Albany, SUNY
The University at Albany, more formally known as the State University of New York at Albany, is a public research university in Albany, New York, and campuses in Rensselaer and Guilderland, New York. The university was founded in 1844 and began life as a normal school, and eventually became part of the State University of New York system upon its creation in 1948.
At present, the university has a population of around over 16,000 students, and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity.”
- The University at Albany offers a Master of Science in Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity, a program that develops students’ skills in forensics, particularly digital evidence gathering and analysis, and in rapidly detecting and deterring malicious network attacks.
- This computer forensics online degree program contains around 30-33 credit hours of coursework and concludes with either a thesis or an internship. The program can also be completed on a full- or part-time enrollment.
- The program has a choice of five track options: Cyber Operations; Cybersecurity; Digital Forensics; Risk, Policy, & Compliance; or Health Security & Privacy.
This STEM-designated degree program is ideal for recent graduates with degrees in emergency preparedness, cybersecurity, informatics, homeland security, applied engineering, mathematics, or computer science.
The University at Albany is also a National Security Agency-designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity.
Did You Know?
Students who may not feel ready for the full coursework of a master’s degree can also choose the University at Albany’s Graduate Certificate in Information Security.
University of New Haven
West Haven, CT
The University of New Haven is a private university in the city of West Haven, Connecticut, with a campus that houses its graduate school in Orange, Connecticut.
Its history dates back to 1920 when it was first established as the New Haven YMCA Junior College. At this time, it was a division of Northeastern University, and for nearly 40 years, shared buildings with Yale University (its big neighbor in New Haven) and was assisted by its faculty and graduate students. It eventually became the University of New Haven in 1970, and currently has almost 7,000 students enrolled.
- The University of New Haven offers the online MS in Digital Forensic Investigation, which builds students’ foundational knowledge and advanced skills.
- This 100% online program consists of 10 courses (30 credit hours total), and can be completed in as little as 1 year.
- The program also allows students to build a tailored plan of study that takes into account their experience, career goals, or other factors. The program also allows for up to 6 credits worth of transfers.
The University of New Haven’s digital forensics MS degree is billed as the first program of its kind in the country, and aside from being 100% online, features a curriculum that reflects actual professional practice by professional investigators, whether in the field or in the laboratory.
Students who are sworn officers or correctional officers from law enforcement agencies in the country and worldwide may be eligible for tuition discounts, as are members of professional organizations including the IAFCI, ACAMS, ACFCS, NHCAA, etc.
Did You Know?
The University of New Haven also offers several 100% online Graduate Certificates in Investigations, which include Financial Crime, Wildlife & Environmental Crimes, Criminal Investigations, Elder & Child Protective Services, Compliance, Sports Integrity, and more.
These certificate programs let students gain an in-depth understanding of certain facets of Investigations, which they can later count toward a full master’s degree should they choose to.
Utica University is a private university in the city of Utica, New York. Its history is inextricably linked to Syracuse University, which established it in 1946 as part of its extension services in the Utica area under the name Utica College of Syracuse University.
The college eventually became an independent institution in 1995 and changed its name to Utica University in 2022. The university is currently composed of 3 colleges and has a current population of around 3,000 students.
- Utica University’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity with a specialization in Digital Forensics program prepares students with skills that count toward fighting fraud, ransomware, and other forms of cybercrime.
- The program contains 30 credit hours and can be completed in 2 years. The program covers forensic tools and techniques to investigate and analyze incidents, as well as preserve digital evidence, as well as key concepts in investigative principles, cyber intelligence, and critical infrastructures.
- This digital forensics program serves as preparation for students to earn a number of in-demand industry certifications, which include the Certified Forensic Computer Examiner and the GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner or Analyst Certifications.
Utica University is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CD). Aside from the comprehensive curriculum, students also get the chance to earn valuable hands-on experience.
Did You Know?
Strayer University is a private university in Washington DC. Its roots can be traced back to 1892, when it was first established as Strayer’s Business College by Siebert Irving Strayer, eventually gaining university status in 1998.
Currently, Strayer University offers both on-campus and online degrees primarily aimed at working adults and has 64 campuses located throughout the country. Strayer University currently has around over 52,000 students enrolled.
- Strayer University offers an MS in Information Systems (MSIS) in Computer Forensic Management. This program prepares students for careers at the forefront of data security, privacy, and protection.
- The program consists of 12 courses that are 11 weeks long each, and the program’s completion time is largely dependent on the number of courses students take at a time.
- The program curriculum covers skills in identifying, tracking, and catching cybercriminals, as well as preventing cybercrime.
Strayer University is accredited both by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the ACBSP. Key components of the program curriculum are based on the Information Technology Infrastructure Library best practices, and the curriculum itself contains comprehensive coverage of key concepts in cyber forensics.
Did You Know?
Strayer University also offers another digital forensics-related online master’s degree program: the Master of Science in Information Security and Assurance. This program also covers advanced training on technologies and strategies for investigating cybercrimes, as well as their prevention and mitigation.
Careers after a Master’s Degree in Digital Forensics
Many of the degree programs in this list are aimed at working professionals who are already in the field, but for those who are on the outside looking in, a Master’s Degree in digital forensics is orientated toward careers in the investigative side of the criminal justice system. These careers can be from within both the public and private sectors. Here are some of them, with a broad-strokes description of what they do:
Forensic Computer Examiners
Forensic computer examiners are specialists skilled in retrieving digital evidence and other data from computers and data storage systems.
Information Security Analysts
Information Security Analysts are typically in charge of monitoring the computer network/s of specific organizations in order to detect and investigate any security breaches. They are also tasked with constantly checking for vulnerabilities in these networks.
A lot of modern fraudulent activities have various traces that are left behind in the digital space. It is the job of cyber-fraud investigators to look for these distinct pieces of digital evidence.
Information Research Scientists
Information Research covers a wide range of disciplines, but with regard to cyber security, the work an information research scientist does can factor into developing solutions that improve the security of various computer systems, as well as better detecting the fingerprints left by digital crime.
Depending on the department, federal agents can take a variety of roles, including investigation and law enforcement. A career as a federal agent requires more steps and training, but a master’s in digital forensics serves as a good preparation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the common admission requirements to computer forensics degree programs?
Usually, the primary requirement to get admitted into the Computer Forensics program is holding an undergraduate degree in Computer Science or any related technical field. Some colleges and universities may need prospective students to meet a certain GPA.
Other requirements include official transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statements, updated resumes, and more. In some cases, transfer credits may be considered, allowing students to reduce the time that it takes to complete the program.
What is the difference between Computer Forensics and Computer Science?
Both degree programs are integral to today’s increasingly digital world. While they both have benefits in terms of pursuing a lucrative and rewarding career, the two fields have their distinctions.
Generally, computer science programs provide a broad overview of computing. The master’s degree in computer science focuses on computer programming languages, software development, and advanced algorithms. Students in this degree program will be able to explore computer science courses such as applied machine learning and advanced computer systems.
On the other hand, computer forensics involves more specific topics that go beyond computer science. This includes a more thorough understanding of criminal justice and forensic science. Students in this program will learn how to prevent and respond to a cybercrime or digital crime.
Their main focus is often on the mastery of digital forensic tools and understanding of criminal justice theory and cybersecurity. They will cover malware and software vulnerability analysis and the different foundations of computing and security.
Other subjects include digital forensic science, mobile device analysis, network forensics, operating system analysis, and software and hardware risks, among others.
- A Master’s in Digital Forensics/Computer Forensics degree covers both key concepts and principles related to investigating various forms of cybercrime, as well as the range of tools and techniques commonly used.
- A Master’s in Computer Forensics opens up a range of careers related to the investigation, primarily related to crimes committed wholly or largely within the digital space.
- With the world constantly becoming more and more digitalized, there is an ever-increasing need for professionals who have the expertise in investigating and preventing various forms of cybercrime.