According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, cybersecurity is currently a top priority and critical issue faced by the United States. Pursuing a computer forensics degree online is a great academic choice that can lead to a well-paying and gratifying career. Students pursuing a digital forensics degree online will learn technical and analytical skills in recovering, organizing, and analyzing data and digital evidence, assisting government organizations, companies, and members of law enforcement.
This guide will lead you through the program options to earn your computer forensics degree online, introduce some of the typical courses you’ll be taking, show you how you can personalize your online degree according to your career goals, and give you detailed information on average costs, job prospects, and more.
Bachelor’s Program Spotlights: Digital Forensics Degrees Online
Digital forensics degree online bachelor’s programs typically require the completion of 120 credits taken over the course of four years of full-time study. You’ll learn skills related to technology, computer science, evidence analysis, criminal law, database systems, and more. While many accredited programs have similar curricula, each program will vary slightly in goals, outcomes, and specific courses offered. A reputable and accredited online computer forensics bachelor’s program will prepare you to work in a variety of public and private sectors within law enforcement or information security.
Below are three schools that offer online bachelor’s degree programs in computer forensics.
Champlain College’s online Bachelor of Science in computer forensics and digital investigations is one of the only five colleges in the nation to be designated as a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence by the Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) Air Force Office of Special Investigations. The 120-credit program is entirely online, with coursework available around your specific schedule. At this small, nonprofit, private college, you’ll earn skills to enter digital forensics roles in a variety of settings, including crime laboratories, state and national law enforcement agencies, and corporations.
- $335 per credit, with lowered rates for active-duty military members and those who qualify for the truED Preferred Tuition program.
- Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
- Location: Burlington, Vermont (online)
Strayer University’s Bachelor of Science in criminal justice, computer forensics, will grant you the skills to support criminal investigations. The program spans 40 11-week courses for a total of 135 credits for graduation. Up to 28 classes are eligible for transfer from a previous associate degree. While the private for-profit university is headquartered in Washington, D.C., you’ll be able to take the coursework completely online on your terms and schedule.
- $1,525 per course
- Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and National Security Agency (NSA)
- Location: Washington, D.C. (online)
Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology’s online Bachelor of Technology in information technologies-cybersecurity & digital forensics is a fully online program that prepares you for highly specialized work of protecting computers, computer systems, and networks from security threats. The program offers a comprehensive and robust curriculum within cybersecurity and IT. The program spans 121 credit hours that you can access and learn at your own pace, with an average of two to three years for completion. Additionally, the program offers the opportunity to obtain practical experience while pursuing the bachelor’s degree through in-person, hands-on internships.
- $192.45 per credit
- Accreditation: Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) of ABET
- Location: Stillwater, Oklahoma (online)
Classes for Your Online Computer Forensics Degree
While each digital forensics degree online program will differ slightly in course offerings, curriculum, and credit hours, many programs will have similar conditions when it comes to required coursework. Typical coursework for a digital forensics degree online
will encompass cybersecurity, criminal procedure, and computer science. Below are five courses that are typical in an online bachelor’s degree program in digital forensics.
Introduction to Computer Forensics
This course provides an overview of the field of computer forensics, introducing students to the fundamental concepts, techniques, and tools used to investigate digital crimes and analyze electronic evidence. You will learn essential techniques to extract, preserve, and analyze digital evidence from computers, storage devices, and networks. The course covers file systems, data recovery, legal considerations, and tools used in forensic investigations. Additionally, you’ll learn how to identify and document digital artifacts, prepare reports, and understand the ethical and legal aspects of digital investigations.
Digital Evidence Collection and Preservation
A digital evidence collection and preservation course delves into techniques for gathering and safeguarding electronic evidence crucial for legal proceedings. You will learn the proper methods for collecting, preserving, and handling digital evidence to ensure its admissibility in legal proceedings. Additionally, you’ll learn the best practices for acquiring data from various sources such as computers, mobile devices, and cloud platforms while maintaining its integrity. The course covers best practices in documentation, chain of custody, and the utilization of specialized tools.
Computer Operating Systems
A computer operating systems course provides a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental principles behind modern computing environments. This course delves into the architecture and functioning of various computer operating systems, giving you the knowledge needed to navigate through and analyze digital artifacts within these systems. You will explore the architecture, functionalities, and management of operating systems, covering process management, memory allocation, file systems, and networking components. Additionally, hands-on experience is usually a part of this course in configuring, troubleshooting, and optimizing operating systems.
A network forensics course offers an in-depth exploration of investigating and analyzing digital evidence within network environments. You will study network protocols, traffic analysis, and intrusion detection techniques to identify and investigate cyberattacks, unauthorized access, and data breaches across interconnected systems. Additionally, you’ll learn methods to capture, preserve, and dissect network traffic to uncover cyber threats, intrusions, and illicit activities. The course covers protocols, packet analysis, intrusion detection systems, and forensic tools.
Criminal and Digital Law
A course in criminal and digital law typically delves into the legal dimensions of cybercrimes and digital activities. You will learn about legal and ethical considerations and get familiar with the legal framework and regulations surrounding digital evidence, privacy rights, and computer-related crimes. Additionally, you’ll study regulations, case studies, and ethical considerations related to digital investigations and gain insights into the legal procedures for collecting digital evidence, analyzing its admissibility, and navigating the intersection of technology and the law in today’s evolving digital landscape.
Job Outlook: Careers and Salaries with a Computer Forensics Degree
A bachelor’s degree in computer forensics will set you up with a variety of skills to gather and analyze data evidence across different settings within state and federal government agencies, law enforcement, and private companies. Scroll down to see three different career paths you may take when earning a bachelor’s computer forensics degree online.
Digital Forensics Analyst & Technician
A digital forensics analyst and technician specializes in collecting, analyzing, and preserving electronic evidence from computers, mobile devices, and other digital media. They work to uncover digital evidence related to cybercrimes, data breaches, and other illicit activities. This role requires expertise in using specialized software tools to retrieve and analyze data while maintaining the chain of custody for legal purposes. Analysts also provide reports and expert testimony in court cases. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, forensic analysts and technicians earn a median annual salary of $61,930 per year and have an 11% increase in job outlook from 2021 to 2031.
Information Security Analyst
Information and cybersecurity security analysts provide expert guidance to organizations in enhancing their overall cybersecurity posture. With a focus on preventive measures, cybersecurity analysts assess vulnerabilities, recommend security solutions, and assist in creating cybersecurity policies and protocols. They may conduct penetration testing, vulnerability assessments, and risk analyses to identify potential weaknesses in an organization’s systems. Information security analysts play a vital role in educating staff about best practices and the latest cybersecurity threats. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts earn a median annual salary of $112,000 per year, with the highest-paid 10% earning $174,540. A 32% job growth is predicted from 2022 to 2032.
A database administrator (DBA) is responsible for managing and maintaining an organization’s database systems to ensure their efficiency, security, and integrity. DBAs design, implement, and optimize databases, including creating schemas, defining data structures, and establishing access controls. They monitor database performance, troubleshoot issues, and perform regular backups to prevent data loss. DBAs also collaborate with software developers to optimize queries and ensure applications run smoothly. Data security is a crucial aspect of their role, involving the implementation of authentication, authorization, and encryption measures. By maintaining the reliability and accessibility of databases, DBAs play a pivotal role in supporting an organization’s data-driven operations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, database administrators earn a median annual salary of $101,000 per year and have a 9% increase in job outlook from 2021 to 2031, which is faster than average for all occupations combined.
How Much Does a Digital Forensics Degree Online Cost?
The cost of an online degree in digital forensics can vary significantly depending on factors such as the type of institution and the length of the program. Additionally, tuition costs can vary based on whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student for public institutions, while some schools may have a set cost for online courses.
What Should I Look for in an Online Computer Forensics Program?
When choosing an online computer forensics program, several key factors warrant consideration. Look for program quality, faculty expertise, and accreditation status. Evaluate course content, learning resources, and the use of up-to-date tools. Faculty should possess relevant industry experience, and the program should hold proper regional or national accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and/or have specialized accreditation or recognition in the field of computer science, cybersecurity, or related disciplines like the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Additionally, you’ll want to explore networking opportunities, internship availability, and career services to ensure a comprehensive digital forensics degree online educational experience.
When you’re considering an online computer forensics program, cost is a main factor that determines eligibility for many students. Evaluate tuition fees, potential additional expenses, and financial aid options. Some online programs offer in-state tuition rates for out-of-state students, with many offering a standard rate for online courses. Research scholarship opportunities, payment plans, and whether your current employer offers tuition assistance to help manage program costs effectively. Additionally, some schools, like Champlain College, offer lowered tuition rates for active military members.
When choosing an online computer forensics program, prioritize program quality. Investigate faculty credentials, industry partnerships, and program reputation. Review the curriculum to ensure it covers essential topics, practical skills, and the latest technology. Look for success stories from graduates and seek programs with strong reviews and rankings within the field.
When selecting an online computer forensics program, consider faculty expertise. Research instructors’ qualifications, industry experience, and research contributions. Faculty with real-world experience in digital forensics, cybersecurity, and related fields can offer valuable insights, mentorship, and networking opportunities, enhancing the quality of your education and future career prospects.
When choosing an online computer forensics program, prioritize accreditation status. Look for programs accredited by the U.S. Department of Education to ensure quality education, transferable credits, and employer recognition. Additionally, some computer forensics online programs may have specialized accreditation or recognition in the field of computer science, cybersecurity, or related disciplines like the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
When considering an online computer forensics program, assess the online format. Look for a user-friendly, reliable learning management system (LMS) that hosts course materials, assignments, and interaction tools. Ensure the LMS supports synchronous and asynchronous communication, facilitating collaboration with peers and instructors. You want to work smarter, not harder when obtaining your online bachelor’s degree in digital forensics.
Questions to Ask About Online Digital Forensics Degree Programs
Here are 6 of the most pressing questions about computer forensics degree online programs, according to our readers.
Are online bachelor’s degree programs in computer forensics fully online?
Many online bachelor’s degree programs in computer forensics are designed to be fully online. These programs are structured to provide all coursework, lectures, assignments, and interactions in an online format, allowing students to complete their studies remotely without the need to attend physical classes on campus.
Some programs might have certain components that require on-campus attendance or in-person participation, such as labs, exams, or special events. Requirements vary from program to program, so it’s crucial to carefully review the program details and requirements of the specific institution you’re interested in.
What does the admissions process look like for this degree?
The admissions process for a computer forensics degree online is generally similar to that of traditional on-campus bachelor programs. These might include a high school diploma or equivalent, transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement or essay, and standardized test scores (such as SAT or ACT). Some programs may also require prerequisites in subjects like mathematics or computer science.
How long does it take to complete a bachelor’s degree in digital forensics online?
The time it takes to complete an online bachelor’s degree in digital forensics can vary based on a few factors, including if you choose to attend full time or part time. Full-time enrollment or accelerated programs can enable graduation within two to four years, while part-time enrollment can take up to six to eight years. Additionally, if you have transfer credits from previous college courses or an associate degree, you may be able to apply those credits toward your bachelor’s degree, which can shorten the overall time required.
What academic and career support services are available to online students earning their bachelor’s degree in computer forensics?
Online students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer forensics typically have access to a range of academic and career support services. These may include virtual advising, online tutoring, access to digital libraries and research resources, discussion forums for interaction with peers and faculty, and technical support for online learning platforms. Many schools offer career services such as resume building, interview preparation, and job placement assistance. Some institutions also provide networking opportunities through virtual events, alumni connections, and partnerships with industry professionals, helping online students establish valuable connections in the field.
What are some of the technical requirements of earning an online degree in computer forensics?
To successfully earn an online bachelor’s degree in computer forensics, students generally require a computer with specific technical specifications. These often include a modern laptop or desktop with sufficient processing power, memory, and storage. Reliable internet connectivity is essential for participating in online classes, accessing course materials, and engaging in virtual discussions. Students also need access to software tools commonly used in the field, such as virtual machines, data analysis software, and cybersecurity tools.
Can I work while pursuing an online computer forensics degree?
Many students are able to work while pursuing a computer forensics degree online due to the flexibility that online classes provide. Online programs allow students to access lectures, assignments, and materials at their own pace and schedule, accommodating work and family commitments. This flexibility enables students to balance their education with employment, making it possible to maintain a job while earning their computer forensics degree online. Effective time management and organizational skills are essential to successfully juggle both work and studies.
Other Degree Options in Computer Science
If you are still unsure which path in computer science you want to take, look at these other bachelor’s degree options: