ONLINE BACHELOR’S DEGREE PROGRAMS IN COMPUTER FORENSICS

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Finding the Right Computer Forensics Program & Exploring Careers

The emerging field of computer forensics applies scientific technology for the recovery of data stored on computers and other digital devices to legal and criminal cases. A bachelor’s degree in computer forensics provides a pathway to expanding careers in government, military agencies, and law enforcement. Graduates also find employment in the private sector, including law offices, financial and accounting services, and security firms. Most organizations that depend on a computer system need these specialists to manage software and hardware vulnerabilities.

Several schools feature a computer forensics degree online. The flexibility of an online degree appeals to students working full time or those with family responsibilities that make it difficult to enroll in a campus-based program. This guide to the best online bachelor’s degrees in computer forensics compares school rankings, program features, and requirements. It also features useful information about financial aid, career possibilities, job growth, and salary potential.

How Much Can You Make in a Computer Forensics Career?

Over the next decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects increased demand for skilled technicians and administrators to work with law enforcement to recover and analyze digital evidence and to help organizations protect data storage systems. While a bachelor’s degree in computer forensics does not guarantee employment, it equips graduates with the training needed to qualify for positions in the public and private sectors. The following careers represent a small sample of the employment possibilities for graduates with a bachelor’s in computer forensics. Students pursuing a computer forensics degree online enjoy a job market characterized by increasing occupational growth and relatively high salaries.


  • Information Security Analysts

    Information Security Analysts

    MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $95,510

    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 28%

    Job Description
    These analysts monitor threats, investigate breaches, and implement solutions. They also install and maintain software, such as firewalls or data encryption programs, to protect information. They must stay current on developments in IT security. They often work with law enforcement to recover information from computers and other digital storage devices attacked by hackers or viruses.


  • Computer and Information Systems Manager

    Computer and Information Systems Manager

    MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $139,220

    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 12%

    Job Description
    These managers oversee the maintenance and protection of an organization’s computer network and data storage systems. They develop policies that promote a culture of information security. They also monitor systems and educate employees about security threats. If a security violation happens, they supervise the investigation, recover data, develop a strategy to repair the security breach, and implement measures to ensure that it will not recur.


  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators

    Network and Computer Systems Administrators

    MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $81,100

    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 6%

    Job Description
    Because most organizations depend on computer networks, these administrators perform functions to maintain the day-to-day operations of networks and computer systems, including local area networks, wide area networks, intranets, email platforms, and other communication systems. They also evaluate network security, as well as update and monitor security permissions. They must possess the technological skills to diagnose system alerts, diffuse threats, and solve problems as they occur.


  • Database Administrators

    Database Administrators

    MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $87,020

    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 11%

    Job Description
    Database administrators use software to organize and store all types of data, including financial statistics, educational records, and healthcare and other personal information. They identify user needs and develop policies about user access. DBAs are responsible for ensuring the security of organizational data. An important aspect of their work includes protecting data from unauthorized access and backing up and restoring databases to prevent loss.


The BLS projects higher-than-average job growth for information security analysts, although career opportunities and salary prospects vary depending on the region, setting, and required skills. The top three regions offering the best salaries include the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and New York. The highest employment rates are in the urban centers around the District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Chicago and its suburbs.


  • Alabama
    Median Annual Salary: $89,320

    Number Currently Employed: 940

    Projected Job Growth: +37 percent


  • Alaska
    Median Annual Salary: $96,390

    Number Currently Employed: 60

    Projected Job Growth: +6.3 percent


  • Arizona
    Median Annual Salary: $88,270

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Arkansas
    Median Annual Salary: $83,070

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • California
    Median Annual Salary: $108,090

    Number Currently Employed: 8,100

    Projected Job Growth: +28.4 percent


  • Colorado
    Median Annual Salary: $103,210

    Number Currently Employed: 2,300

    Projected Job Growth: +33 percent


  • District of Columbia (DC)
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 890

    Projected Job Growth: +34.9 percent


  • Connecticut
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Delaware
    Median Annual Salary: $103,590

    Number Currently Employed: 260

    Projected Job Growth: +31.7 percent


  • Florida
    Median Annual Salary: $86,630

    Number Currently Employed: 4,830

    Projected Job Growth: +38.3 percent


  • Georgia
    Median Annual Salary: $90,940

    Number Currently Employed: 2,170

    Projected Job Growth: +22.5 percent


  • Hawaii
    Median Annual Salary: $95,700

    Number Currently Employed: 210

    Projected Job Growth: +23.9 percent


  • Idaho
    Median Annual Salary: $84,450

    Number Currently Employed: 520

    Projected Job Growth: +30.3 percent


  • Illinois
    Median Annual Salary: $97,360

    Number Currently Employed: 4,400

    Projected Job Growth: +22.9 percent


  • Indiana
    Median Annual Salary: $77,450

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Iowa
    Median Annual Salary: $79,670

    Number Currently Employed: 1,470

    Projected Job Growth: +34.1 percent


  • Kansas
    Median Annual Salary: $77,720

    Number Currently Employed: 660

    Projected Job Growth: +30 percent


  • Kentucky
    Median Annual Salary: $83,010

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Lousiana
    Median Annual Salary: $76,710

    Number Currently Employed: 760

    Projected Job Growth: +50.3 percent


  • Maine
    Median Annual Salary: $110,080

    Number Currently Employed: 310

    Projected Job Growth: +22.7 percent


  • Maryland
    Median Annual Salary: $107,580

    Number Currently Employed: 3,490

    Projected Job Growth: +7.6 percent


  • Massachusuetts
    Median Annual Salary: $106,520

    Number Currently Employed: 3,330

    Projected Job Growth: +25.5 percent


  • Michigan
    Median Annual Salary: $94,140

    Number Currently Employed: 2,160

    Projected Job Growth: +34.7 percent


  • Minnesota
    Median Annual Salary: $95,930

    Number Currently Employed: 3,680

    Projected Job Growth: +23.8 percent


  • Mississippi
    Median Annual Salary: $75,500

    Number Currently Employed: 300

    Projected Job Growth: +17.8 percent


  • Missouri
    Median Annual Salary: $91,630

    Number Currently Employed: 2,910

    Projected Job Growth: +41.7 percent


  • Montana
    Median Annual Salary: $60,000

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Nebraska
    Median Annual Salary: $80,830

    Number Currently Employed: 680

    Projected Job Growth: +37.7 percent


  • Nevada
    Median Annual Salary: $88,300

    Number Currently Employed: 400

    Projected Job Growth: +25.5 percent


  • New Hampsire
    Median Annual Salary: $100,750

    Number Currently Employed: 370

    Projected Job Growth: +27.8 percent


  • New Jersey
    Median Annual Salary: $120,020

    Number Currently Employed: 3,290

    Projected Job Growth: +21.3 percent


  • New Mexico
    Median Annual Salary: $107,410

    Number Currently Employed: 680

    Projected Job Growth: +37.2 percent


  • New York
    Median Annual Salary: $118,140

    Number Currently Employed: 5,410

    Projected Job Growth: +27.9 percent


  • North Carolina
    Median Annual Salary: $100,650

    Number Currently Employed: 3,540

    Projected Job Growth: +33.2 percent


  • North Dakota
    Median Annual Salary: $75,070

    Number Currently Employed: 210

    Projected Job Growth: +41.3 percent


  • Ohio
    Median Annual Salary: $93,190

    Number Currently Employed: 2,890

    Projected Job Growth: +25.8 percent


  • Oklahoma
    Median Annual Salary: $75,760

    Number Currently Employed: 600

    Projected Job Growth: +19.1 percent


  • Oregon
    Median Annual Salary: $99,480

    Number Currently Employed: 650

    Projected Job Growth: +31.5 percent


  • Pennsylvania
    Median Annual Salary: $94,810

    Number Currently Employed: 3,010

    Projected Job Growth: +25.8 percent


  • Rhode Island
    Median Annual Salary: $107,210

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • South Carolina
    Median Annual Salary: $77,770

    Number Currently Employed: 1,410

    Projected Job Growth: +22.3 percent


  • South Dakota
    Median Annual Salary: $89,200

    Number Currently Employed: 210

    Projected Job Growth: +27.4 percent


  • Tennessee
    Median Annual Salary: $82,720

    Number Currently Employed: 1,270

    Projected Job Growth: +37.4 percent


  • Texas
    Median Annual Salary: $94,970

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Utah
    Median Annual Salary: $82,430

    Number Currently Employed: 400

    Projected Job Growth: +51.5 percent


  • Vermont
    Median Annual Salary: $84,360

    Number Currently Employed: 80

    Projected Job Growth: +6.1 percent


  • Virginia
    Median Annual Salary: $110,450

    Number Currently Employed: 11,730

    Projected Job Growth: +41.5 percent


  • Washington
    Median Annual Salary: $106,040

    Number Currently Employed: 2,390

    Projected Job Growth: +43 percent


  • West Virginia
    Median Annual Salary: $78,680

    Number Currently Employed: 240

    Projected Job Growth: +18.4 percent


  • Wisconsin
    Median Annual Salary: $75,820

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Wyoming
    Median Annual Salary: $72,180

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


What Courses Can be Taken for an Online Computer Forensics Degree?

Whether you’re seeking a computer forensics bachelor’s degree online or on campus, take time to research course offerings and program features at different schools. Most undergraduate programs offer a combination of forensic science and criminology courses. This list reviews the kinds of courses you might take in an undergraduate computer forensics program.

Introduction to Computer and Network Forensics

Students study general forensic procedures, evidence handling, and how to recover deleted files. Students receive training in the tools used by forensic practitioners in audit, security, privacy, legal, and criminal cases and investigations.

Law and Forensic Science

Students examine federal and state laws regarding computer violations and appropriate legal responses, including prosecution in court. Course content includes the adjudicative process, scientific evidence, laboratory reports, hearsay, and expert testimony.

Introduction to Information System Security

This class explores the types of information security threats, vulnerabilities, and protocols, as well as the countermeasures used to prevent and recover from external violations. The course addresses computer security for private households, businesses, government, network systems, email, and internet.

Crime Scene Investigation

This course introduces students to all aspects of crime scene documentation and evidence analysis. Topics include evidence collection methods, presumptive testing of biological and chemical evidence, and methods to collect and preserve impression evidence.

Computer Forensics Technology and Practices

Students gain proficiency in the tools and technologies used in forensic examination, including the use of digital media and physical memory. They also learn how to analyze and report results for criminal and civil cases.

How to Choose the Best Online Computer Forensics Program

There are several factors to consider when choosing the best online computer forensic program for your needs, including tuition costs, online delivery formats, and graduation requirements. Accreditation status can affect your eligibility for federal financial aid or private awards. It may also impact your ability to transfer credits and how potential employers view the validity of your degree. The following are answers to commonly asked questions about choosing the right online computer forensics degree.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Forensics?

Most programs comprise 120 credits and take four years for full-time students to complete, although some schools offer accelerated degrees that allow students to complete sooner. Many students with work or family responsibilities take longer to graduate, completing just one or two courses each semester. Several factors, like internships and on-campus requirements, may impact the time to completion.

What Are the Different Online Delivery Formats?

Several bachelor’s in computer forensics programs are offered completely online with asynchronous classes that students complete on their own time. Other programs use synchronous schedules, where students and instructors log in at a specific time for lectures, discussions, and workshops conducted in real time. Some schools offer hybrid programs requiring on-campus courses in addition to online work.

What Is Accreditation and Why Is It Important?

Nationally and regionally accredited schools have been evaluated by external agencies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to verify that they meet established academic standards. Some forensic science programs receive specialized or programmatic accreditation by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission. You can check the accreditation of any computer forensics program on each school’s website or through the ED database.

How Can I Complete an Internship If I’m Getting My Degree Online?

Many programs require internships or fieldwork to provide students with practical experience. Online programs with this requirement generally work with students to find flexible and convenient onsite options. A growing number of schools place online students in internships close to home and some schools offer virtual internships where students interact with their supervisor through video conferencing.

Is an Online Degree Less Respected Than a Traditional Campus-Based Degree?

A student with an online bachelor’s degree in computer forensics receives the same diploma as a graduate from a campus-based program. Online and traditional campus programs offer the same rigorous standards for courses and curriculum requirements, with the same grading rubrics, assignments, and examinations.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Computer Forensics Programs

Students should explore all financial aid options to defray the costs of an online bachelor’s degree in computer forensics. Grants and scholarships, unlike government and private loans, do not require repayment. You must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your federal financial eligibility. Some nonfederal, need-based scholarships also require the FAFSA. This chart provides examples of need-based and merit-based awards sponsored by professional organizations for computer forensics undergraduates.

Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Cyber Security Scholarships

AFCEA awards scholarships worth $5,000 to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees at an accredited postsecondary institution related to the support of U.S. cyber security enterprises. Eligible majors include cybersecurity, security, information science, information technology, computer science, digital forensics, and electronic engineering. Applicants must be U.S. citizens in their second year of study; students in distance learning programs are also eligible. Applicants must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, and financial need.

Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship

The Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship, sponsored by the ACFE Foundation, supports students pursuing a career in fraud examination and investigation. The scholarship ranges from $1,000-$10,000, which is paid to the recipient’s postsecondary institution. Scholarship applicants must be enrolled full time at an accredited, four-year college or university with a major or minor in accounting, auditing, business administration, finance, or criminal justice, including digital forensics and information security.

Scholarships for Women Studying Information Security (SWSIS)

The SWSIS program, in partnership with the Applied Computer Security Associates and Computing Research Association, promotes the participation of women in information security careers. SWSIS provides 10-15 scholarships annually with a maximum value of $10,000 for women enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degrees related to information security. Applicants must be U.S. citizens enrolled in an accredited U.S. postsecondary institution. Undergraduate students must be in their third or fourth year of study.

Western Union Foundation Global Scholarship Program

The foundation’s WU Global Scholars Program provides funding for tuition and fees for undergraduate students in STEM majors or related fields. Applicants for this $2,500 scholarship must be enrolled at an accredited college or university working toward an undergraduate degree in one of the following majors: science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or business/entrepreneurship. A transcript and one letter of recommendation must accompany the application. Recipients for the scholarship must meet the foundation’s criteria related to themes of perseverance, aspiration, and commitment.

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