Best Online Master’s in Computer Forensics Programs

Our experts at BestColleges have ranked the top online masters in computer forensics programs. Read on to compare schools by cost and convenience to learn how you earn your masters degree online today.

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by Doug Wintemute

Published on May 24, 2022

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The interdisciplinary field of computer forensics explores computer-based crimes, security, and investigations. A master's in computer forensics prepares students to begin or advance their careers in this specialized field. The two-year program usually covers many advanced and in-demand computer topics, including cybersecurity, data analysis, investigative techniques, and cyberoperations.

Not unlike an online computer science degree, the diversified training from a master's in computer forensics prepares graduates for computer and information technology positions, including those in security, analysis, and management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 13% growth for computer and information technology occupations between 2020 and 2030.

While master's programs cost an annual average of $19,792 in 2019-20, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, they also often lead to higher postgraduate earnings. To help prospective students make the best graduate school choice for them, we look more closely at the admissions process and program considerations. We also highlight the best online master's in computer forensics from the top online schools and the careers they prepare graduates for.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Computer Forensics Program?

All programs run a little differently, but prospective master's students can expect to study for about two years, completing between 30-45 credits. Interested applicants should have an investigative spirit, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and a strong technological foundation.

The training in this discipline combines computer systems, information security, and criminal justice. Students learn how and why cybercrimes occur, how to identify and prevent them, and how to investigate them after they happen. Most schools include an internship. Learners may get to choose a thesis- or course-based program.

When preparing for graduate school, prospective students should look at the degree and program types available in this field. While most schools award an analytically focused MS degree, other possibilities include MA or master of criminal justice degrees. These can shift the training emphasis or introduce different postgraduate opportunities.

The biggest difference among the program options comes from the concentrations available. Schools may offer computer forensics as a specialization within a computer science, cybersecurity, or information systems program. Alternatively, computer forensics programs might offer their own concentrations, such as digital forensics, mobile forensics, or cryptography.

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Popular Online Computer Forensics Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Computer Forensics Program?

Forensics Science

In this course, students learn how professionals gather and process evidence from crime scenes. They study crime scene ethics and professionalism, report writing, and courtroom procedures.

Criminology

This course explores the various causes and effects of crime. Learners study sociological, biological, and psychological perspectives and theories. They also look at the social issues in the legal world.

Wireless Security

Students in this course learn how to protect wireless networks and devices. They examine the leading types of attacks, threat detection methods, and practices for identifying vulnerabilities.

Intelligence Analysis

In this course, students look at the development of intelligence analysis. They learn about the methods and tools for extracting insight from information and how this process can be applied to investigations

Cybercrime

This course explores cybercrime and cybercrime investigations. Students look at the reasons and methods for cybercrime and its repercussions. They also learn to use preventative and protective measures and tools.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

Financial Aid Guide for Graduate Students Scholarships for Compputer Science Majors The Student's Guide to Financial Aid and the FAFSA

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Computer Forensics Program?

The admission requirements for graduate programs vary, but most online master's in computer forensics programs require prospective students to hold a bachelor's in computer science or a related discipline. Schools may also require that candidates have specific prerequisite courses and GPA minimums.

Online learners typically must meet the same admission standards as in-person learners. However, they must also meet the school's technological requirements.

Application

College applications can differ, but they require the applicant's personal information and program of interest. While students typically apply directly to their desired school at the graduate level, college application systems may help streamline the process, particularly for those applying to many schools at once.

Test Scores

Graduate programs may require either GRE scores or GMAT scores from prospective students, depending on the program type. While test scores are not always mandatory, candidates can usually submit them for consideration.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are usually included in a graduate program application. Prospective students need to find 2-3 professionals, such as former teachers, mentors, or employers, who can speak to their skills and strengths. The more relevant the references are to the computer forensics field, the more useful they will be.

Resume and Work Experience

College applications often include a resume requirement. The standard college application resume provides information on a prospective student's professional experience and skills. Some programs may even require a minimum amount of professional experience.

Essays

While many college applications feature college essays, they may look different depending on the school and program. Grad school essays, for example, might allow prospective students to discuss their personal histories, their academic goals and interests, or answer a specific discipline-related question.

Official Transcripts

Prospective students often must include official transcripts in their college applications. Transcripts cover all previous undergraduate and graduate studies. These records help schools make admission decisions, award transfer credits, and identify what prerequisites the applicant has or needs.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Computer Forensics Degree?

Career Outlook

Thanks to their cybersecurity expertise and advanced training, computer forensics graduates can access some of the fastest-growing positions within the already booming information technology industry. The BLS projects 16% growth for forensic science technicians between 2020 and 2030.

The BLS also projects 33% growth for information security analysts and 22% growth for computer and information research scientists. These fields also earn competitive wages. In fact, people working in the computer and information technology sector made median annual wages more than $50,000 higher than the median annual wages for all occupations in May 2021.

Graduates holding a master's in computer forensics can perform many roles depending on their interests. The most straightforward path leads them to cybercrime investigation careers. But they can also enter research and development, computer security or management, and data or systems analysis.

Check out what career options are available with a master's in computer forensics.

Learn more about computer science careers

Career Paths

Forensic Computer Examiner

Forensic computer examiners support computer-based crime investigations. They research cyberattacks, scams, and electronic fraud. They also search for evidence and data that might help organizations, law enforcement, and prosecutors identify the offenders. These workers prepare reports and may need to present their findings in court.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $61,930

Information Security Analyst

Information insecurity analysts provide protections for computers and information systems. They analyze an organization's systems to look for issues and vulnerabilities to secure according to industry standards. These professionals may also monitor and investigate cyberattacks.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $102,600

Computer and Information Research Scientist

These professionals research, design, and create new computer technology and update existing technology. They may work with specific organizations or industries to make improvements or solve problems. Computer and information research scientists can also specialize in certain types of technology, such as those working in cybersecurity and forensics.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $131,490

Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts work for organizations to improve all areas of their computer systems. They evaluate the current operations and look for inefficiencies, vulnerabilities, and possible upgrades. Analysts may also implement cost-saving measures or research and design enhancements based on the needs and goals of the organization.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $99,270

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Computer and information systems managers oversee an organization's information technology department and operations. They coordinate maintenance, manage staff, and report to upper management and stakeholders on all things related to IT. These managers may also specialize in specific IT fields, such as IT security managers who focus on cybersecurity and protection.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $159,010

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Continuing Education

Computer forensics graduates who want to advance their education have many options for additional degrees and certifications. They can pursue several doctoral degree paths, including computer forensics, computer science, data analysis, or any other computer-related field. Doctorates can grant them access to more research and academic roles, such as postsecondary teaching positions.

Graduates can also complement their degrees with cybersecurity bootcamps or vendor-specific training programs or certificates.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Computer Forensics Program?

Cost

Cost plays a large role in college program choice for most prospective students. Applicants can sort through their options by comparing online and on-campus program costs, in-state and out-of-state school costs, and private and public school costs. For even more information, prospective students can evaluate the true program cost, which factors in how studies can impact income.

Program Format

Prospective students should look at the program format to figure out what type of study schedule and delivery system they want. Online learners can often choose between synchronous and asynchronous learning and full-time and part-time studies, which can make a big difference in when and how often they study.

Location

All prospective students should consider school location, regardless of their choice between online or on-campus programs. Online learners may not need to attend class in person as regularly as on-campus students, but they might need to for lab or practicum requirements. In fact, many online programs have mandatory residency requirements.

Accreditation

Schools need institutional accreditation to offer federal financial aid. Institutional accreditation can also impact a graduate's access to employment, transfer credit, and postgraduate credentials. While not mandatory, programmatic accreditation for a master's in computer forensics may come from the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission.

Student Support

Prospective students can find out what type of support system they will have at school by looking at the student services and online student services available. Students should research academic or career services provided, wellness service options, and mentorship programs. In-program support, like connections to internships, can help as well.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Computer Forensics Programs

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Best Online Master's in Computer Forensics Programs

  1. University of San Diego
    Location

    San Diego, CA

    Tuition

    $35931

    USD's online master's in cybersecurity engineering program is a 20-month pathway that features courses in applied cryptography, security test engineering, and cybersecurity domains. In their final semester, learners complete a two-part cyber engineering research project.

    Online learners can access USD's Career Toolkit — a free service that includes a resume guide and career fair preparation tips. These resources have helped recent graduates find jobs at Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, among other top employers in the public and private sectors.

    Prospective students should hold a bachelor's degree in computer science with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Additional requirements include a recommendation letter and a 500-word statement of purpose. USD offers institutional scholarships to cybersecurity engineering students.

  2. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $13016

    UCF's online master's degree in digital forensics includes a 30-credit curriculum with coursework in topics like forensic science, the practice of digital forensics, and wireless security. Students personalize the degree by selecting three electives from over a dozen options. Degree-seekers can choose between thesis and nonthesis tracks.

    On UCF's career services website, students can explore career paths, attend a virtual workshop, and set up an appointment for a virtual advising session. Learners can also use Big Interview software to practice.

    This program does not require standardized test scores or recommendation letters for admission. Florida residents pay significantly lower tuition. The university's Access to Opportunities website lists available scholarships.

  3. Mississippi College
    Location

    Clinton, MS

    Tuition

    $17520

    MC's master's in cybersecurity and information assurance program helps students develop skills related to computer security, operating systems, and computer networking. Participants also select two electives with an advisor's help, and participants can graduate in five semesters.

    Degree-seekers can research jobs and doctoral programs through MC's career services office. The college also provides learners with guides that cover best practices for interviewing and writing resumes.

    Admission requirements include a bachelor's in computer science and a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA. Applicants do not need to submit standardized test scores or recommendation letters. Institutional financial aid opportunities require a separate application.

  4. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
    Location

    Daytona Beach, FL

    Tuition

    $18922

    Aspiring cybercrime experts often pursue ERAU's online master's degree in information security and assurance. The program teaches learners skills related to assured business systems, cyberlaw, and quality management for information assurance. Students choose one of three specializations: protecting business intelligence, information systems security, or information assurance in a global context.

    Recent graduates from this program report a 100% placement rate. The university provides students with career development best practices, access to Handshake software, and resume tips. Additional resources include a guide that teaches learners how to create a digital academic portfolio.

    Prospective students must submit undergraduate transcripts. Active-duty military personnel and their dependents receive a significant tuition discount. Prospective students can apply for institutional aid after submitting FAFSA results.

  5. DeSales University
    Location

    Center Valley, PA

    Tuition

    $28244

    DeSales offers an online master's in criminal justice with a digital forensics concentration. Required coursework covers topics like issues in criminal law, policing in America, and network and cloud forensics. Students complete 30 credits by taking a total of 10 classes. The degree offers full-time and part-time tracks.

    The university's career development website offers career success tools like a job and internship board and a career development plan. Online learners can also access resume critiques and interest assessments.

    Admission requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and three recommendation letters. Incoming students who already work in the criminal justice field receive an automatic 20% tuition discount.

  6. University of Arizona
    Location

    Tucson, AZ

    Tuition

    $15594

    Arizona's online master's in cybersecurity program is delivered through eight-week courses, making it a good fit for students seeking an accelerated program. The 33-credit curriculum features courses in information security, data mining for business intelligence, and business data communications. Students can specialize in information systems or physical systems.

    Arizona's career counselors use Virtual LifeLab to provide online students with resume assistance and mock interviews. The university also provides access to Handshake, counseling appointments over Zoom, and videos that cover networking tips.

    Prospective students must submit undergraduate transcripts. However, the program does not require recommendation letters. Out-of-state online learners pay in-state tuition. Incoming students can research financial aid opportunities on the university's Scholarship Universe website.

  7. Robert Morris University
    Location

    Moon Township, PA

    Tuition

    $25690

    Students at RMU can earn a master's in cybersecurity and information assurance degree. This online program features 30 credits, including courses in information technology governance, microcomputing technology, and network technology and management. Graduates have gone on to work for companies like Alcoa, Bayer, and PPG Industries.

    Almost 95% of RMU alumni achieve a positive career or education outcome within 12 months of graduation. The university's Career and Professional Develop Center website offers dozens of resources, including career resource guides and tip sheets.

    Prospective students must meet undergraduate course prerequisites and have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additional requirements include passing a criminal background check.

  8. University of the Cumberlands
    Location

    Williamsburg, KY

    Tuition

    $17588

    Prospective students with and without computer science experience can apply to UC's online master's in digital forensics program. Participants can choose a specialization in cybersecurity or criminal justice, and core courses cover topics like investigation and triage, wireless security, and web browser forensics. The program culminates in an applied learning practicum.

    UC provides distance learners with access to four software suites: Handshake, Big Interview, USA Careers, and GoinGlobal. GoinGlobal features job opportunities in foreign countries. Students can also access articles that cover career transitions, transferable skills, and salary negotiation.

    Admission requirements include a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. International applicants complete additional steps, such as a foreign transcript evaluation. UC offers competitive tuition rates to all learners, and students may qualify for federal grants and loans.

  9. Eastern Illinois University
    Location

    Charleston, IL

    Tuition

    $13168

    EIU's master's in cybersecurity features a 32-credit curriculum and includes courses in systems security, biometric security, and the management of IT. All students complete a capstone course in which they hone skills related to IT risk assessment and security policies. The program requires two short on-campus residencies.

    Over 90% of EIU graduates start a career or a new academic program within 180 days of earning their degree. To help individuals find success, EIU provides learners with free workshops, career exploration guides, and interviewing tips.

    All applicants must hold an undergraduate degree in a technology field and submit two recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, and a resume. The university awards many institutional scholarships, including awards that target international students.

  10. Champlain College
    Location

    Burlington, VT

    Tuition

    $38577

    Students who earn Champlain's online master's degree in digital forensic science complete all of their coursework asynchronously. Core courses include mobile device analysis, digital investigation for civil investigation, and operating systems analysis. The program culminates in a master's thesis.

    Champlain's digital forensics alumni work at major organizations like AT&T, Chevron, and General Electric. The university's Career Collaborative organization helps students find appealing jobs by providing experiential learning opportunities and networking events.

    Prospective students without a background in IT can apply if they take foundation courses before starting the digital forensics curriculum. Active-duty service members enjoy an automatic 50% tuition discount. Vermont residents can apply for state grants.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Computer Forensics Programs

Is a master's in computer forensics worth it? true

Yes. A master's in computer forensics can be worthwhile for many students. The training provides advanced and specialized training in computer science, cybersecurity, and cybercrime investigations. Graduates can pursue more training and advanced careers in any of these fields.

In addition to the computer science degree value, students can benefit from the online degree value. Online students can access more schools and programs nationwide, which may lead to more suitable schedules and cost savings.

What can I do with a master's in computer forensics? true

Graduates with a master's in computer forensics often pursue careers as digital forensics analysts or forensic computer examiners, but many other options exist. They may, for example, enter the cybersecurity or information security analysis fields. They might also take on IT security management roles or pursue general computer systems management.

Computer forensics graduates can also extend their time in school by pursuing a doctoral degree. This degree opens the door for postsecondary teaching and academic careers. Graduates can expand their career options with extra training and credentials as well as with bootcamps and industry certificates.

Are computer forensics graduates in demand? true

Yes. The demand for computer forensics graduates continues to grow as the cybersecurity industry expands. According to Fortune Business Insights, the cybersecurity industry is projected to grow from about $156 billion in 2022 to $376 billion in 2029.

As a result, the BLS projects 33% growth for information security analysts between 2020 and 2030, nearly four times the projected growth rate for all occupations. This translates to an addition of more than 47,000 new positions in this specific field, plus over 16,000 annual openings on average.

How much money can I make with a master's in computer forensics?

The money offered to graduates with a master's in computer forensics depends on many factors. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for computer and information technology professionals was $97,430 in May 2021. Forensic science technicians made median annual wages of $61,960, but the top 10% made more than $103,430.

Information security analysts made a median annual salary of $102,600, and computer systems analysts made a median of $99,270 in May 2021, as per the BLS. Professionals with a master's degree may have access to the more desirable positions and salaries in these and other fields. For example, the top 10% of earners in these careers made $165,920 and $158,010, respectively.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in computer forensics?

The highest-paying position for a graduate with a master's in computer forensics is a computer and information systems manager. According to the BLS, professionals in this field earned median annual salaries of $159,010 in May 2021, more than $110,000 higher than the median annual wages for all occupations.

While the lowest 10% of earners in this occupation made less than $95,220, the top 10% earned over $208,000. Computer and information research scientists also earned high wages in May 2021, with median annual salaries of $131,490. The top 10% of these workers made over $208,000 as well.

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