With the advent of the internet and digital devices, things that were not possible before are not possible—especially investigating efficiency has grown leaps and bounds. Are you an avid follower of the law, inclined toward technology and its concepts, and want to land into a lucrative career that is exponentially in-demand – Digital Forensics/Computer Forensics is what you are made for. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2024, there would be an increase of 27% in forensic positions, which is a way more than the average growth rate. To be part of this growth rate, you either should have a computer forensics degree, also known as digital forensics. And to advance a career in this field, you should look for an Online Masters in Digital Forensics.
Many universities offer online masters programs in digital forensics. But not all the programs are the same. We used a custom methodology to create a list of the top digital forensic schools. Our methodology has created this list of digital forensic degrees from the top universities by multiple metrics like program rankings, program reputation, student to teacher ratio, graduation rates, and so on. Here is the list of top programs:
Understanding Digital and Computer Forensic Programs
As part of the computer forensic online programs, you will attain an understanding of the advanced and leading computer forensic software applications, the laws and ethics that impact digital evidence. Int his program, you will learn about the recovery and gathering of evidence from materials found in digital devices, viruses, information security breaches (encrypted or destroyed – deleted files and emails), and the process to prepare reports that can be used in the court of law. A computer forensics degree onlineteaches the structured format of forensic investigation.
Online Master’s in Digital Forensics Program Degree Types
Most universities offer an online master’s in digital forensics as a Masters of Science in Computer Forensics (MS) or Masters of Science in Digital Forensics (MS). Either of them teaches the analysis and management of cybersecurity threats, processes to identify security breaches, preservation of data for legal proceedings.
Skills Gained in Digital and Computer Forensic Programs
To pursue a thriving career in digital forensics, there are specific skills that you naturally possess, and a lot more that you gain by enrolling for digital forensics online courses. Here are some of the skills one gains through the program:
Technical aptitude: As the program is related to computers and digital devices, you require to have an understanding and working knowledge of digital devices, networking, technical jargon, and so on. Comprehending the technical aspects, identifying security breaches is key to computer forensics. Here are the two skills:
Digital comprehension: Having a good knowledge of digital devices and endpoint instruments like Universal Serial Bus or popularly known as USB, smart mobile phone, Internet of Things (IoT), etc., is an advantage and helps you in accessing them at your own pace.
Networking: Knowledge of networking, Local Area Network (LAN), Wide Area Network (WAN), and client/server also play a prime role in being a computer-forensic professional. If you have done a course in Networking or Cloud computing or any other recent technology will help a forensic investigator to explore the incidents well.
Operating system knowledge: Again, it is about computers and their relevant fields. While you have picked computer forensics, you should know the know-hows of the operating systems as well. Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android are some of the operating systems you should be aware of and comfortable with, to access and use them while conducting an investigation. These operating systems are standard on laptops, smartphones, and other endpoint devices. You can attain skills in the operating system by enrolling for a course in OS.
Knowledge of Law and Investigation: Being in a forensic investigation branch, you have to possess knowledge about criminal law and investigation. Although you do not have to be certified in law, an understanding or a program in criminal law, white-collar crime, and investigation will be an added advantage.
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Digital Forensics Program
When a program is chosen, it is essential to check for the accreditations of the universities or colleges. There are two formats of accreditation – national and regional. Regional accreditation is given for institutions offering bachelor’s, master’s, associate, and doctoral degrees. Read more about accreditation in the Accreditation Guide.
Here are some of the institutions that issue accreditation to forensic sciences programs.
Online Master’s in Digital Forensics Programs Admission Requirements
Digital Forensics is a science that is replete with opportunities in the current scenario. It has become a favorite subject of many who are interested in the methods of law enforcement, using technology for cybercrime solving. To enroll in an online master’s program in digital forensics, most universities have the following digital forensic requirements:
Undergraduate degree in fields such as computer science, network administration, criminal justice, math, or science.
The cost of higher education is surging in the US Luckily, the majority of the universities provide some kind of financial aid to the students. Some employers also reimburse some portion of the tuition fees. There are other ways that you can explore things like student loans, fellowships, grants, and more to make the process of pursuing a degree affordable and accessible. Read more about financial aid.
Scholarships for Forensic Students
As mentioned above, taking a student debt or financial aid has become more accessible and available as there is a wealth of funding sources if your seeking to pursue your degree in forensics. Many scholarships are available for students pursuing forensics degrees. Here are some of these scholarship opportunities:
Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA)AFCEA is a non-profit organization that is driven by its members and is a forum of the military, government, and industry communities. AFCEA is dedicated to increasing knowledge through the exploration of issues relevant to its members in information technology, communications, and electronics for the defense, homeland security, and intelligence communities. To support this core mission, AFCEA administers many scholarship award programs. Digital Forensics students can sign up for some of these scholarships. Find out more about AFCEA scholarships
Award Amount – Varies
Deadline – Varies
Herbert Scoville, Jr. Peace Fellowship The Herbet Scovolle Jr. Peace Fellowship was established in 1987 to train the next generation of policy and advocacy leaders in the areas of international peace and security issues. The fellowship is highly competitive and is an award to an outstanding group of individuals. The fellowship recipients will have to work on one of the twenty-six organizations participating in the program. Find out more about Herbert Scovolle Jr. Peace Fellowship.
Award Amount – Varies
Deadline – Varies
International Association For Intelligence Education (IAFIE)IAFIE is an organization of intelligence studies trainers and educators. IAFIE is formed to expand research, knowledge, and professional development in intelligence education. To support this goal, IAFIE organizes an essay competition to promote its goal of providing a forum for the creation of knowledge within intelligence education. Digital Forensics students can participate in the contest to have a chance to win the award amount.
Center for Cyber Safety Education (formerly known as ISC2 Foundation) is a non-profit organization committed to making the cyber world a safer place for everyone. The Centre’s mission is to empower students, teachers, and whole communities to secure their online life through cybersecurity education and awareness. To support this mission, Center administers scholarship awards for graduate students that are pursuing a graduate degree in the areas of cybersecurity and information assurance.
Award Amount – $1,000 to $5,000
Deadline – March
Careers and Salary Outlook for Computer/Digital Forensics Graduates
Of late, the news is filled with high-profile computer security breaches and the resolution of the crimes by the computer forensic specialists. You must note that in a generation where digital devices will play an even larger role, cyberattacks, and other security issues that are originating from digital devices will increase exponentially. It is this reason why both public and private sectors will require a digital forensics skill set that can defend their assets from any form of threats (internal or external). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth for forensic science technicians is growing more durable, with a 14 percent growth from 2018 to 2028.
According to PayScale, the highest respondent for the forensic based job titles is from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Mantech International Corp., and Sony Corporation of America. Here are some of the different types of profiles and their wages that you can expect to open up with an online masters in digital forensics:
Securing and examining details left at the crime scene.
Certifications and Licensing for Forensic Graduates
Usually, forensic technicians would not require any licensing to carry out their responsibilities, and mostly they would need certifications that will help the careers. There are myriad of certifications available offered by agencies or associations helping you to enhance your forensic investigation skills. These certifications are classified based on your job. The following are some of the agencies that confer certifications for forensic technicians helping in accentuating your skills.
Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE): To earn this certification, you must be an International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS) member, for which you should be part of law enforcement. This certification is a two-step procedure, and successful completion of it is considered as a merit badge in the law enforcement
Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI): As part of the CHFI Certification Program, you are taught the techniques used by the police, government, and corporate entities across the globe. It teaches you to identify intruder’s footprints and gather evidence material to present for law proceedings.
Cybersecurity Forensic Analyst (CFSA):This certification assures that you can, as an analyst, conduct a forensic examination of a computer system and other digital devices, communicate the examination results effectively and understandably.
Additional Resources for Digital Forensic Professionals
When you are in the field of law enforcement and crime-solving profiles, you are associated with several people and form a good network. But, having peers/associations from the same fraternity and the same understanding of forensics is what you usually would like to have. Here are some of the associations or communities that keep you connected with like-minded people like yourself.
High Technology Crime Investigation Association The IFSCE is a private organization exclusively to provide an internationally recognized, unblemished computer forensics certification that is available to all who can qualify for a reasonable cost.
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