Cybersecurity dominated headlines in 2017. According to the Online Trust Alliance, a watchdog group that studies hacking, incidents of computer crime skyrocketed in 2017. The organization called it "the worst year ever" and stated that more than five billion dollars disappeared due to data breaches.
One positive among these negative numbers is that positions in cybersecurity are growing. Graduates of cybercrime bachelor's degree programs have multiple job opportunities after finishing school. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer security jobs are growing quickly. The BLS projects that positions for information security analysts and forensic science technicians will grow 28% and 17% by 2026, respectively.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Cybercrime?
Cybercrime degrees are a blend of computer science and law enforcement. The ideal candidates include those with an interest in technology and a penchant for security work. Cybercrime graduates can jump into many different careers. Some might enjoy the computer aspect, others may like working in labs solving security problems. Others might find the policing aspect appealing. Many students who pursue a cybercrime degree enroll in online programs. These programs offer students the convenience to study at their own pace. While new high school graduates may prefer to attend school on-campus.
Many of the skills learned in a cybercrime bachelor's program translate well on the job market. Most programs include several liberal arts, IT, and law enforcement courses. Students can also benefit from networking, both in and out of school. Many programs encourage internships and offer career services or provide training for certifications.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Cybercrime?
A bachelor's degree in cybercrime often leads to careers that merge technology and law enforcement. You could work for a major corporation as an information security analyst or you might find employment doing similar tasks for a government agency. You could also take a job in digital forensics for a state police department or conduct counter-terrorism work for the FBI. Below, we've profiled five of the most common careers for cybercrime graduates.
- Information Security Analyst
Corporations and government agencies hire information security analysts to safeguard company data. These security professionals install firewalls, look for breaches, investigate hacks, and set security standards.
Median Annual Salary: $95,510*
- Detectives and Criminal Investigators
Many graduates of cybercrime bachelor's programs take jobs in criminal investigation, working for state and federal agencies. They compile evidence, investigate computer attacks, and protect the public from hackers. Many perform the same tasks as detectives, except in the cybersphere.
Median Annual Salary: $83,320*
- Software Developers
A bachelor's in cybercrime provides an ideal background for developing security-related software applications. Software developers build applications that keep information secure, such as firewalls, anti-virus programs, threat assessment software, and network security applications.
Median Annual Salary: $103,560*
- Forensic Science Technicians
Computer forensic technicians search computers and networks for evidence of crime. They review electronic records, recover data on corrupted machines, and help build cases against hackers, data thieves, and other criminals.
Median Annual Salary: $57,850*
- Computer Network Architects
Network architects design and build secure communication networks. These might include networks for big corporations, government entities, or small businesses. They study the latest technologies and threats and maintain secure data pathways. Typical entry-level jobs for these positions require a bachelor's in cybercrime.
Median Annual Salary: $104,650*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Cybercrime Program
Cybercrime degrees began to proliferate across the country several years ago; today you can select from an array of cybercrime programs. Many colleges and universities have the degree as an extension of a larger criminal justice program, but some offer it as a standalone degree.
When evaluating prospective programs, you first need to decide if you want to study on-campus or online, and if you want to enroll part time or full time.
Online programs often make it easier to attend school while working. Full-time programs, however, typically allow students to earn a degree quicker. Cost is a factor as well. Some web-based degrees are less expensive than on-campus programs, and additional savings often come from the lack of travel.
Once you've decided whether you want to study online or on campus, you can begin to narrow your options. You'll want to check the accreditation status of each of your target schools, and whether they require a thesis or practicum.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in Cybercrime Programs
All reputable colleges and universities carry accreditation from a regional or national agency. The best schools and programs hold accreditation from one of six regional agencies. Some programs might hold national accreditation, which usually recognizes vocational or technical schools or programs associated with a particular industry. You can check each school's accreditation status on the U.S. Department of Education's website.
Many college majors carry programmatic accreditation specific to that discipline. Cybercrime programs don't have their own accrediting agencies, but the best programs are recognized by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Bachelor's in Cybercrime Program Admissions
Every student has an idea of how many different school applications they should submit. Some applicants send applications to a dozen colleges. Other students limit their choices to a handful of colleges, usually selecting a safety school, a reach or dream college, and a couple others for safe measure.
Since online education has grown exponentially in the past decade, applying to college generally feels the same whether you want to attend on-campus or online. Both tend to follow a similar application process, though in some cases, online programs require additional application steps. Organization and patience can make the process go more smoothly. Below are some factors to consider when you make application decisions.
- Minimum GPA: Many schools now require a minimum GPA. These vary by school, with the most selective colleges requiring a higher GPA. Some of the most desirable colleges and universities mandate GPA's in the 3.8 range. You can often offset lower GPA scores with high marks in other areas, like SAT scores or an exceptional essay.
- Application: Though the internet has simplified the admissions process, getting through the application still takes considerable time and effort. Most students invest weeks into applications. The The Common Application, which allows students to send a single application to multiple schools, has somewhat simplified the application landscape.
- Transcripts: Most schools will request a transcript from your previous educational institution. Many schools will provide these for free, while others require a nominal fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: In a field like law enforcement, letters of recommendation can be required for applications. Most schools will ask for two or three such references. Ask teachers or mentors and make sure you allow them enough time to complete the letter. For cybercrime, you might consider asking teachers in computer science or math.
- Test Scores: Many schools will post minimum SAT score requirements on their admissions page. Others will include them in their profiles of accepted students from previous classes.
- Application Fee: Almost every school will charge an application fee. Typically, these cost about $50.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Cybercrime Program?
Cybercrime programs differ by school. Some schools fold cybercrime into their criminal justice programs, some meld it with computer science, and others offer the subject as a discipline.
|Software Development||A software development track focuses on the technical aspects of developing software systems. Coursework typically covers the methodologies, tools, and approaches to solving technical issues of large-scale software. Degree holders are qualified to work in a diverse set of application environments.||DevOps engineer, web software developer,UX designer.|
|Project Management||Software engineering with a project management focus prepares graduates to direct teams through the entire software development and creation process, from design to implementation. Foundations cover research and modeling of software design, as well as specific instruction in evaluation of integrated, structural, and functional systems models.||Senior software engineer|
|Cybersecurity||A specialization in cybersecurity, also called secure cybersystems, adds a layer of knowledge in how to recognize, analyze, and handle security risks in applications and computer networks. An understanding of how applications and systems are backwards-designed and constructed is at the core of a cybersecurity specialization; this knowledge helps experts diagnose critical issues and assess potential solutions.||Cyber security analyst, heads of cyber security operation, cyber security architects.|
|Game Systems||A concentration in game systems provides the skills in designing real-time games and interactive simulations in a variety of areas, including mobile applications, military operations, and medicine. In addition to systems architecture, coursework covers topics like computer graphics, artificial intelligence, and game physics.||Game system or simulation designer and developer in law, finance, medicine, and other fields.|
|Software Architecture||Software architecture builds on a foundation in software development and expands your knowledge base in design and management of large-scale software systems. Courses of study include a survey of the unique challenges and global influences on computer networks and how to deal with the architectural components in context.||Software architects are prepared for leadership positions of large-scale software development projects across many enterprises and organizations.|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Cybercrime Program
Most cybercrime bachelor's degrees will feature a similar set of core classes, bridging computer science and law enforcement. A sample curriculum is listed below.
- Introduction to Programming
Students learn the languages and types of code commonly used in cyber security, including Python, C, and Java Script. This class prepares students for careers not just in cybercrime, but in any code-based line of work.
- Digital Forensics Investigation
This course prepares degree seekers for careers in cybercrime investigation. Students learn about different types of cybercrime and how to investigate data breaches, identify digital evidence, and use evidence in court cases. EnCase forensic software is used heavily in this course.
- Network Security
In this course, students explore how to keep computer networks safe from hackers. Topics include network architecture; security threats; risk analysis; and methods for identifying, mitigating, and controlling risks. Students also cover the ethics involved with network security, data recovery, property protection, and the handling of classified information.
- Law Enforcement Intelligence Applications
The basis of this course is the use of data and IT in law enforcement. Students learn methods of data collection and how to use open-source information to maximize crime-fighting resources. They will study counterintelligence and trends in IT security. Many of the course-taught skills translate to corporate careers.
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Information Security
The rise of the internet and global connectivity raises a variety of legal and ethical issues related to the use of information. Students study confidentiality, privacy, and the legal ramifications of internet activity. Other subjects include the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, and local and federal laws.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Cybercrime?
The greatest influence on degree length is the decision to study full time or part time. Attending class part time will extend the amount of time spent earning your degree. Where you attend college is another important factor. Most on-campus programs follow a traditional baccalaureate calendar, requiring four years to earn 120 credits. Some online programs let you proceed at your own pace or allow you to double up on credits, which reduces time and money spent. Other universities host "master's in five" type programs, where you earn a master's degree by extending your undergraduate studies one additional year. Working while you study will likely increase degree time, but will make your degree in cybercrime more affordable.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Cybercrime?
According to the 2017 College Board Trends in College Pricing report, the average baccalaureate education costs at least $10,000 per year. This amount represents the common fee for an in-state, public school student. Out of state students may pay as much as $25,000 for the same education. Private colleges have even higher fees, charging an average of $35,000 per year.
Many factors affect tuition costs, and some options may bring prices down considerably. Online programs can help you save on certain expenses. Not only do many web-based schools charge less for online programs, they sometimes extend in-state status to all distance learners. You also won't need to pay for travel or new housing. When evaluating schools, make sure to look for hidden costs. Many schools now charge technology fees, on-campus parking fees, and high prices for books.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Cybercrime Prepares For
- Certified Cybercrime Investigator
A credential sponsored by the International Fraternity of Cybercrime Investigators, this certification proves the holder has passed the CCI exam. The test consists of 100 questions and takes about 2.5 hours to complete. Candidates take the exam online, paying $75 for each attempt.
- GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst
This credential from the Global Information Assurance Certification recognizes those who work as professionals in information assurance, computer forensics, or incident response. The certification focuses on formal incident investigations, data breaches, advanced threats, and sophisticated digital forensic cases. Candidates must pass a 115-question, proctored exam with a minimum score of 71%. This certification is helpful for those interested in careers in cybercrime, forensic investigation, and information assurance.
- CompTIA CySA+
CySA+ certification from the Computer Technology Industry Association is one of the most comprehensive security analyst credentials available. Candidates must pass an exam that demonstrates they can utilize threat detection tools, recognize breaches and vulnerabilities, and secure important applications from external hacks. The test is approved by the Department of Defense and enhances the resume of those seeking positions as IT security analysts, security engineers, vulnerability analysts, and security operations center analysts.
- Certified Forensic Computer Examiner
Sponsored by the International Association of Computer Investigation Specialists, the CFCE certification requires candidates to complete a two-phase process. First, you must complete a rigorous, hands-on peer review. Second, you must pass the certification exam. The exam is useful for those interested in computer forensics, cybercrime, and other cybersecurity positions.
- Department of Defense Certification
The U.S. DOD sponsors three certification programs through its DC3 Cyber Training Academy. Programs include the cyber crime investigator, digital forensic examiner, and digital media collector. Each one proves a candidate's skills at responding to, processing, and mediating computer-based threats. Students can attend the academy either at the Maryland campus or online. The certification helps anyone pursuing careers in cybercrime, digital forensics, or cybersecurity.
Resources for Cybercrime Students
Many cybersecurity professionals at the Department of Defense attend their DC3 Academy, which offers an online education. You can earn certification or advance your career with this highly specialized training in digital forensics and security.
Established to help victims of cybercrime, the CSN provides cybercrime prevention resources to students.
This website houses information on resources available to cybercrime students. The CSE site also has links to professional organizations in cybercrime and cybersecurity, cybercrime educational opportunities, and helpful career development information.
Created by the Department of Homeland Security, this site links students to training opportunities, NICCS tools and resources, and the Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE). The FedVTE offers more than 800 hours of training in cybercrime and cybersecurity to qualified personnel.
Also created by the Department of Homeland Security, US-CERT hosts the National Cyber Awareness System, a database of information on threats. It contains alerts, tips, bulletins, reports, and other resources for computer security professionals.
Professional Organizations in Cybercrime
New cybercrime students and graduates can benefit from joining a professional organization. Most organizations offer networking opportunities, and some pair new graduates with veterans in mentoring relationships. Many provide career services, feature job boards, and sponsor continuing education programs. Organizations also advocate for the interests of cybercrime professionals.
Comprised of security professionals from more than 60 countries, the IACIS provides members with a variety of training opportunities and hosts a forum for information exchange on new cyber threats.
The ISSA is a network of international cybersecurity specialists and offers access to peer networking, professional development, education, training, and industry tools and resources. The organization sponsors an annual conference that attracts cybercrime experts from around the globe.
A global leader in financial crime detection and prevention, this membership organization offers certification, training opportunities, and networking.
The American Society of Digital Forensics and eDiscovery represents the professional computer forensics community. This association provides scholarships, training, and disperses the latest intelligence on opportunities and threats in digital forensics.
Based in Richmond, Virginia, this global association offers training, certification, networking, mentoring, research, and advocacy to professionals in law enforcement analysis.