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.

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Top Online Master’s 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:

<a href="https://www.onlinemasterscolleges.com/online-masters-in-digital-forensics/">Online Master's in Digital Forensics</a>

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
University of Central Florida
4000 Central Florida Blvd, Orlando, Florida 32816
George Mason University
4400 University Dr, Fairfax, Virginia 22030
The University of Maryland University College
College Park, Maryland 20742
Pennsylvania State University
201 Old Main, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802
Champlain College
163 S Willard St, Burlington, Vermont 05401
Desales University
2755 Station Avenue, Center Valley, Pennsylvania 18034
Illinois Institute Of Technology
10 West 35th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60616
University of New Haven
300 Boston Post Road, West Haven, Connecticut 06516
Stevenson University
1525 Greenspring Valley Rd,Stevenson,Maryland 21153
Sam Houston State University
1806 Ave J, Huntsville, Texas 77340
University of the Cumberlands
6191 College Station Drive,Williamsburg,Kentucky 40769

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

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.

ANSI National Accreditation Board: ANAB is an established provider of accreditation for forensic agencies based on the ISO standards in the United States.Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC): FEPAC recognizes and evaluates the college-level academic programs and accredits the applications based on the standards and administration of the programs offered.

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.
  • A competitive GPA (score at least a 3.0)
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • GRE scores

How to Pay for Computer Forensic Programs?

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.  

  • Award Amount – $1,000 to 1,500
  • Deadline – July

Center for Cyber Safety Education (Center)

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 11 percent growth from 2021 to 2031.

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:

Job titleAverage SalaryJob Description
Forensic Computer Analyst$73,703Analysation of computer-based information for forensics evidence. 
Forensic Scientists$56,623Use of scientific methods for gathering and analyzing material to use as evidence by law enforcement and for court proceedings.
Information Security Analyst$72,102Responsible for providing security solutions.
Crime Scene Investigator$46,810Securing 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.
  • Access Data Certified Examiner (ACE): Through this certification, you will attain knowledge about digital artifacts, Registry files, encrypting and decrypting data, attack types, and so on.
  • 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.

The International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners®

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.

National Digital Forensics Inc.

Is connected to different organizations to stay updated in the current fields of expertise.

High Technology Crime Investigation Association

organization to help all those in the high technology field by providing extensive information, education, collective partnerships, mutual member benefits, astute board leadership and professional management

The American Society of Digital Forensics & eDiscovery, Inc

This association is a non-profit entity of digital forensics and electronic discovery professionals.

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