What You Should Know About This Degree
Computer forensics is a relatively young field, and both the field and academic programs within it continue to evolve. The field sits at the intersection of cybersecurity, information systems, law enforcement, and criminal justice, and a degree in the field could take you in any of these directions. As you evaluate different programs, consider what emphasis they have. Choose one that’s tailored toward your personal interests and particular career goals.
The online programs can largely be completed remotely, but some have a brief in-person component. For example, an online program may require an internship, orientation, or seminar. Make sure your schedule and budget allow you to complete any in-person component.
Because the field of computer science is young and requires technical knowledge, employers sometimes struggle to identify which job applicants have the most potential. One way you can distinguish yourself in the field is by obtaining voluntary professional certifications. The Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI) credential is a well-respected one.
Many jobs within computer forensics are with law enforcement agencies, and agencies commonly require employees to pass background checks. While a minor infraction may be forgiven, a major felony or similar conviction could prevent you from attaining certain positions.
Consider these two questions as you further evaluate different Master’s in Computer Forensics degree programs:
- Am I eligible for this program? Since these programs teach advanced topics related to criminal investigation and information technology, most programs require a previous degree in a relevant field. Check a program’s eligibility requirements before applying, and confirm that you meet all requirements.
- What licensing or certifications are required? Computer forensics professionals don’t have to pass a specific licensing or certification exam, but voluntary certifications can make you more attractive to potential employers. Additionally, many jobs require passing a background check.
When you identify a program of interest, contact the program or look at its website to get admissions details. You’ll need to know what the application deadline is and what admissions materials are needed.
Also consider how you’ll pay for a degree. Discuss financial aid and scholarship options with programs. You might also have access to tuition reimbursement through an employer.