Computer Forensics Degree
A computer forensics degree can help aspiring computer forensics professionals to gain the skills and knowledge to pursue employment in this relatively new and rapidly changing field. Also known as forensic examiners, these professionals specialize in gathering evidence from computer data on suspected criminals. Other common names for this role include computer forensics specialist or investigator. Degree programs at the associate’s level to graduate level are available at community colleges and four-year universities.
What is Computer Forensics?
Computer forensics, or cyber forensics, is the field of investigating computers to gather evidence on individuals who are suspected of committing a crime. Computer forensics specialists may search hard drives for hidden files or recover deleted files while maintaining the integrity of evidence. They may also use advanced tools like encryption decoding software or file recovery programs to gather evidence. Computer forensics experts and investigators may also be called to testify in court about their findings. The term digital forensics is often used interchangeably with computer forensics, but the former technically includes devices other than general computers such as cell phones or network devices.1
How to Become a Computer Forensics Specialist or Investigator
Prospective computer forensics specialists typically must have a bachelor’s degree, preferably a computer forensics degree, or a degree in computer science. Many colleges offer computer forensics certificate programs and more are now offering bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in computer forensics. Some computer forensics examiners started out in another area of law enforcement, and gained their computer forensic skills through a computer forensics training program. Regardless of the path, computer forensic examiners must have skills and knowledge related to digital storage devices, computer operating systems, a variety of programming languages, and common software applications. In addition to formal computer forensics training, technical, analytical, and critical thinking skills are very important.
Computer Forensics Training and Courses
Areas of concentration in computer forensics include: computer crimes, internet child pornography, internet child exploitation, financial fraud, hacking, and other computer related crimes. In addition, your computer forensics classes will teach you the skills necessary to process information stored on computers belonging to either a victim or suspect. Schools offer different variations of computer forensics degree programs including digital forensics or computer security and forensics.
Examples of courses that are part of a computer forensics curriculum include:
- Introduction to Computer Forensics
- Current Issues in Cyberlaw
- Computer Forensics File Systems
- Architecture of Secure Operating Systems
- Forensic Analysis in a Windows Environment
- Malware and Software Vulnerability Analysis
- Network Security
- Mobile Forensic Analysis
- Forensic Management of Digital Evidence
- Cyber Incident Analysis and Response
- Digital Forensics Investigative Techniques
- Database Design
- Forensic Management of Digital Evidence
- Computer Ethics
- Advanced Topics in Computer Forensics
- Information Systems Security Planning and Audit
Top Computer Forensics Schools
There are numerous college programs that offer excellent computer forensics training for aspiring computer forensics professionals.
Purdue University offers a Masters in Cyber Forensics program which is led by Dr. Marc Rogers, a former police officer who worked in computer crime investigations and author of numerous published papers on computer forensics. The program involves 33 course credits including courses on Basic Cyber Forensics, Small Scale Digital Device Forensics, and File System Forensics.
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice, recognized as a top criminal justice school by US News, offers a Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity program that prepares highly skilled computer forensic scientists. Located in Manhattan, the program provides lab based instruction taught by PhD computer scientists and students can work with professors to help conduct research and publish papers.
Most computer forensic careers require a minimum of an associate’s degree. It is also necessary to continually update your computer forensics training and education in order to stay current with constantly changing technology. If you love constantly learning and keeping your skills sharp, requesting free information from a few schools to learn more about a computer forensics degree or computer forensics certification, would be a logical next step.
Computer Forensics Degree Program Admission Requirements
Admission requirements for most computer forensics programs is a high school diploma or GED. With the increased reliance on computers in everyday life, careers in this field offer good employment prospects. For some master’s programs, basic coursework in computer science may be a prerequisite.
Additional Computer Forensics Resources:
The International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists – An international association that provides education law enforcement professionals in the field of computer forensic science.
Online Computer Forensics Degree Info, Courses & Criminal Justice Programs
University of Phoenix
- B.S. in Information Technology - Information System Security
- B.S in Information Technology/Mobile Development
- A.A. in Information Technology/Web Administration
Colorado Technical University Online
- Doctorate of Computer Science - Digital Systems Security
- Master of Science in Computer Science - Computer Systems Security
- Bachelor's (BSIT) - Security
- Computer Science - Networking and Information Systems Security (BS) ++
- Cyber Forensics/Information Security, BS
- Network Security - Associate
- Network Security - Bachelor
Baker College Online
- Bachelor of Information Technology and Security
- Associate of Applied Science - Information Technology Support Specialist
- MS in Cyber Security
1. Computer Forensics In Forensis by Sean Peisert and Matt Bishop http://www.cs.ucdavis.edu/~peisert/research/PBM-ACMOSR-ForensicsInForensis.pdf
Page Edited by Charles Sipe.