Bachelor’s in Computer Forensics Program Guide
Share this Article
Computer forensics is a fast-growing specialization within forensic science, exploring the intersection of science, technology, and criminology. Professionals with a bachelor's degree in forensic science can become computer forensics technicians, information security analysts, and digital forensics analysts. Other graduates enter the fields of cybersecurity or web development.
Most bachelor's degrees in computer forensics take four years or less to complete. Online programs may offer accelerated tracks to completion and lower tuition than a traditional degree. A bachelor's degree meets minimum education and soft-skill requirements for computer forensics jobs, including problem solving and critical thinking.
BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Ready to Start Your Journey?
Computer forensics occupations offer exciting, lucrative careers with longevity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a much-faster-than-average 33% job growth for information security analysts, and a 16% increase in jobs for forensic science technicians from 2020-2030. Both are popular careers for graduates of a bachelor's program in computer forensics.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Computer Forensics?
Computer forensics jobs require specific digital forensics skills and are highly desired by field specialists. Professionals must learn to apply core forensic science skills using the latest digital forensics technology. Graduates can also access and process a variety of digital evidence to help solve criminal cases.
Students may graduate in less than four years by pursuing an accelerated online program. Many online degrees follow a competency-based curriculum and offer set or in-state tuition rates for distance learners. These professional-centered programs can enable students to launch or boost their careers in less time than a traditional degree.
Learners may choose to enter the field of computer forensics holding a bachelor's degree or pursue an advanced degree to earn a higher salary or broaden their job prospects. While not always required, some employers may prefer candidates with professional certification, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or the Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE).
Graduates of bachelor's programs qualify for jobs including forensic science technician and information security analyst. Computer forensics professionals with a master's degree can become senior analysts or forensics scientists, and may qualify for secondary teaching positions in a community college or vocational school.
Popular Online Computer Forensics Bachelor's Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Will I Learn in a Computer Forensics Bachelor's Program?
The typical bachelor's degree in computer forensics meets minimum education requirements for entry-level jobs in the field. Most programs award a bachelor of science (BS) in computer forensics or a bachelor of applied arts (BAA) in this concentration of information technology. Though rare, some bachelors of business administration (BBAs) offer sub concentrations similar to computer forensics.
A BS or BAA may require computer forensics coursework through a major in cybersecurity, which typically differs from a computer forensics major in name only. A BS may follow a more academic curriculum, while BAAs are designed to emphasize career skills. BBAs typically incorporate a computer forensics module into general business course requirements.
A bachelor's degree in computer forensics explores core topics including foundations of cybersecurity, digital forensic analysis, and white-collar crime. Students also learn technical skills in networking, operating systems, and decoding programming languages. Most programs culminate in a senior seminar or project requirement and a forensics internship.
Cybersecurity protects computer systems, networks, and the digital data therein from disruption, theft, and appropriation by malicious actors. What some schools call a cybersecurity degree may be nearly equivalent to the computer forensics curriculum.
A mobile forensics concentration trains students to recover digital evidence from a mobile device. Specialists in mobile forensics must learn to retrieve data through a unique process that maintains the integrity of the evidence for forensic analysis and preservation.
Network forensics explores all suspicious activity across digital networks possibly linked to cybercrime. Like cybersecurity, some network forensics programs differ from computer forensics in name only.
Hacking investigators focus on preventing malicious hacking by identifying and reinforcing vulnerable digital access points. Students in this concentration learn critical "white-hacking" maneuvers to protect a client's at-risk financial and personal information.
Cyber criminology explores the psychology driving malicious actors in the world of cybercrime. Cyber criminologists study crimes unique to technology and the motives and methods of the criminal's cybercrime.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Computer Forensics?
A bachelor's degree in computer forensics can lead to a variety of computer science or IT jobs. Expertise in cybersecurity, forensic science, and IT management makes graduates increasingly desirable in any field that relies on eCommerce, especially as cryptocurrency and digital wallets gain popularity among consumers.
Graduates of a bachelor's program in computer forensics often become information security or systems analysts, or forensic science technicians. They may also apply to a master's program in computer forensics, cybersecurity, or criminology, in preparation for a career as a computer scientist, advanced cybersecurity specialist, or high-level information systems manager.
Popular Career Paths
Popular Continuing Education Paths
- Master's in Computer Forensics
- Master's in Cybersecurity
- Master's in Criminology
- Master's in Forensic Science
- Master's in Information Systems Security
How Much Money Can I Make With a Bachelor's in Computer Forensics?
Generally, graduates of a bachelor's in computer forensics can earn a healthy salary; however, exact income depends on their location, industry, and specific career path. Forensic science technicians earn a median annual salary of $60,590, according to the BLS.
Students who complete a bachelor's degree in computer forensics can also become information security analysts, earning a median annual wage of $103,590. These professionals earn a salary competitive with other notoriously lucrative computer science jobs, according to the BLS.
How Do I Get Into a Bachelor's in Computer Forensics Program?
Though professionals switching careers may occasionally pursue a bachelor's in computer forensics, this undergraduate major primarily serves early-career professionals and recent high school graduates. Most programs require students to be at least 18 years old to apply. Schools typically maintain similar on-campus and online application requirements for this degree.
Applicants should hold a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent credentials demonstrating proficiency in college-level skills, including math, English, and reading. Most programs require a minimum GPA between 2.0 and 3.0. Some schools require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores. Additionally, schools may offer their own assessment/placement tests for first-year undergraduate students.
Most bachelor's programs in computer forensics do not include specific academic prerequisites. Most bachelor's degrees in computer forensics build on existing basic technology skills. Students routinely use Common App to apply to multiple undergraduate programs at once.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Computer Forensics Programs
What is computer forensics?
Computer forensics is the practice of collecting and analyzing digital data from computers and mobile devices to assist criminal investigations. Computer forensics specialists typically focus on fraud involving personal digital and/or financial information, or "white collar" crime.
Through a bachelor's degree in computer forensics, students also learn fundamental technical skills in networking, hacking, and computer science, and build field expertise in cybersecurity, criminology, and forensic science techniques. Computer forensics technicians are also sometimes known as forensic computer examiners or digital forensic analysts.
How much does it cost to earn a bachelor's in computer forensics?
Though prices vary, bachelor's programs cost $35,331 on average in annual tuition and fees in 2022, according to Education Data. Multiple factors affect the cost of a bachelor's degree, including a school's location and reputation, whether it is public or private, and whether it assigns in- and out-of-state tuition rates.
Students may also pay variable tuition rates depending on whether they enroll full- or part-time, transfer credits, and/or live on campus. While attending college is a significant investment for any student, many turn to online programs to explore benefits often including set or in-state tuition rates.
Is computer forensics a good degree?
Yes, a bachelor's degree in computer forensics equips graduates with invaluable technical and career skills. This degree qualifies graduates for careers as information security analysts and computer forensics technicians. Schools commonly offer a variety of concentrations for aspiring professionals in fields like mobile forensics, hacking investigation, and cyber criminology.
Most computer forensics degrees enable students to gain hands-on experience through a practicum/internship and culminate in a capstone or final project. Students may also pursue a traditional (in-person) or online program, with the latter potentially offering flexible enrollment options, accelerated coursework, and/or set or in-state tuition rates.
Is computer forensics the same as cybersecurity?
No, though some computer forensics and cybersecurity programs feature crossover curriculum. Computer forensics involves uncovering and preserving digital data as potential evidence in a crime.
Cybersecurity includes the practice of preventing digital data loss and cyber-attacks. While these practices are different, they require many of the same skills in areas like networking, white-hat hacking, and programming languages. Professionals in these fields also share many of the same soft skills, including electronic data management, problem solving, and risk analysis.
Is computer forensics a good career?
Yes, computer forensics careers are extremely lucrative and in demand, even when compared to many other high-salary jobs in computer science and IT. Graduates of a bachelor's in computer forensics qualify for entry-level positions in computer forensics technology, cybersecurity, or information security analysis, some earning median annual wages of nearly $104,000.
Such computer and information technology jobs also offer faster-than-average job growth, with information security analysts jobs projected to grow 33% from 2020-2030, according to the BLS. Cybersecurity experts are especially desirable, with cyber attacks becoming more frequent worldwide and businesses spending hundreds of billions of dollars on security between 2020 and 2022.
Feature Image: Thomas Barwick / DigitalVision / Getty Images