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An online master’s in computer forensics helps prepare students for many different computer-related jobs. This industry doesn’t require a graduate degree for entry-level jobs, but earning an advanced degree can help students attain more lucrative jobs and senior-level positions. And since most of these online programs require 30 to 36 credits, a full-time student may be able to graduate in as little as one year with specific programs.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost for a graduate degree is $19,749. Once students have completed the graduate program, they may qualify for an information security analyst job and expect an annual salary of $102,000 annually.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Computer Forensics Program

Choose your area of study

Most online master’s in computer forensics degrees don’t have different areas of study to choose from, but some of them will have different concentrations that may interest you. For example, some programs concentrate more on digital forensics, while others focus on mobile forensics and cryptography.

While such programs can prepare you for many careers, knowing what direction you’d like to take in your future can help you select the best program. If you’re not entirely sure, that’s fine. Throughout their graduate studies, students will likely better understand what they’d like to do after graduation.

Research schools and programs

While researching different online master’s in computer forensics programs that might best fit their needs, ensuring schools have proper accreditation is imperative.

Additionally, students should focus on factors like program cost, school reputation, and program length. For example, it’s okay to eliminate programs that are too expensive, though we always recommend going to the most reputable schools you can afford. And as an online student, it’s essential to pick a program that suits your work-life balance. For instance, if you intend to maintain a full-time job while attending school part-time, select a program that won’t disrupt your schedule.

Prepare for tests and applications

It’s important to determine if potential graduate programs require GRE scores because it can take up to three months to study for the GRE and up to 15 days to receive test results. Therefore, budgeting enough time to study for the test and receive your results before the application deadline is important. Additionally, closely review application requirements and seek out any transcripts, letters of recommendation, or other paperwork the application may require. Again, because these will take time, ensure you can get everything you need well before the deadline.

Select your program

If you have the time and budget to do so, applying to multiple programs is helpful. Consider researching the acceptance rate of different programs to calculate your odds of getting accepted. So long as you are accepted into multiple programs, it’s possible to weigh the pros and cons of each one. Some programs may be more affordable, while others may be more prestigious. And some may have rigid schedules, whereas others offer more flexibility. By carefully weighing what each school offers, you can discover what best suits your needs.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

It is wise to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to help pay for the graduate degree by allowing you to take out federal loans to help pay your tuition. While they are rarer at the graduate level and highly competitive, take the time to research any scholarships, grants, or fellowships that you may qualify for as an online graduate student. Veterans should contact the schools they are interested in to ask about any specialized assistance they may qualify for. And regardless of how you pay for your degree, ensure you understand the financial commitment and potential debt you are signing up for.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Computer Forensics Programs

Best Online Master's in Computer Forensics Degree Programs

University of Central Florida

University of San Diego

DeSales University

Mississippi College

Embry - Riddle Aeronautical University

University of Arizona

University of the Cumberlands

Robert Morris University

Stevenson University

Champlain College

Capitol Technology University

Western Governors University

Bellevue University

Sam Houston State University

Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals

National University

Eastern Illinois University

Lewis University

University of Maryland Global Campus

Davenport University

Syracuse University

GW School of Engineering & Applied Science

Saint Leo University

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How We Rank Schools

This list focuses on master’s-level programs in computer forensics. The most common type of degree students can earn in this subject is a Master of Science (MS).

All of the programs we reviewed can be completed online. Several programs are also offered on-campus or in a hybrid format. Some programs may allow students to complete coursework through a combination of in-person and online classes.

Most of the programs on this list are offered by regionally accredited institutions. Regionally accredited schools are generally viewed as meeting the highest quality standards for postsecondary education, and degrees and credits from regionally accredited schools are more widely recognized and transferable.

We evaluated each program based on its faculty, flexibility, cost, outcomes, and reputation. Then we calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Computer Forensics Program?

Students earning an online master’s in computer forensics can expect to study for an average of two years. However, some students may take longer, and others may complete sooner via accelerated programs.

Such programs help build on the technical foundation of a student’s undergraduate education while emphasizing hands-on experience with problem-solving and critical thinking in computer forensics. Given the specialized nature of the degree, much of the coursework will focus on researching cybercrimes to understand why they occur, how to investigate them, and (most importantly) how to prevent them.

Typically, remote learning technology is utilized for the hands-on aspects of the course, so no in-person labs or residencies will be required as part of the coursework. While accelerated graduate programs are available, students should consider whether they have the spare time such a commitment requires and whether they can learn a lot of valuable information quickly.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s of computer forensics program

  • Communicating, Problem-Solving, and Leading in Cybersecurity. This course emphasizes the communication skills necessary for a successful career in computer forensics or a related field. Students will learn that good leadership is often the intersection of communication, critical thinking, and creative networking.
  • Digital Forensics Technology and Practices. This course is a deep dive into the technological tools required for practical computer forensics. Students will learn to secure and validate crucial evidence and recover and analyze seemingly-lost information. They will also learn how to compellingly present their findings in environments ranging from the boardroom to the courtroom.
  • Digital Forensic Response and Analysis. This highly specialized course focuses on conducting forensic investigations on mobile and workstation platforms. The course emphasizes the recovery and reconstruction of digital artifacts across several operating systems, including Macintosh, Linux, and Windows.
  • Advanced Forensics. This course builds off students’ knowledge of computer forensics by better preparing them for the digital problems of today and tomorrow. For example, students learn how to recover information from networks and servers (including cloud-based ones) and how to overcome encryption challenges.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Computer Forensics?

Career outlook

An online master’s degree in computer forensics equips individuals with specialized skills to investigate cybercrimes, protect digital assets, and secure information systems. As society becomes increasingly reliant on technology, the need for experts in digital investigations and cybersecurity continues to grow.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for information security analysts, a category that includes computer forensics professionals, is projected to grow by 32 percent through 2032, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by the escalating frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks and data breaches, making cybersecurity a top priority for organizations across industries. These professionals make a median salary of $112,000 annually, according to the BLS.

Career paths

Computer forensics experts are sought after by various sectors, including law enforcement, government agencies, private corporations, financial institutions, healthcare organizations, and cybersecurity firms. Their expertise is crucial for conducting digital investigations, securing sensitive data, and preventing cyber threats. Graduates with an online master’s degree in computer forensics have a wide array of career paths to explore, each offering opportunities to make a significant impact in cybersecurity and digital investigations.

Here are some common career paths for individuals with a master’s in computer forensics:

  • Forensic accountant — uses digital forensic techniques to analyze financial data and uncover fraudulent activities
  • Security analyst — monitors an organization’s information systems for security threats and vulnerabilities
  • Penetration tester — assesses the security of computer systems and networks by attempting to exploit vulnerabilities
  • Compliance analyst — ensures that organizations adhere to cybersecurity regulations and industry standards
  • Chief information security officer — responsible for an organization’s overall cybersecurity strategy

Digital Forensic Analyst

Earning Potential: $70,000-$150,000+ annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in computer forensics or related field

A digital forensic analyst investigates cybercrimes and security incidents by collecting and analyzing electronic evidence. They employ specialized tools and techniques to examine digital devices, networks, and systems, aiming to uncover evidence of illegal activities or security breaches. Digital forensic analysts ensure that gathered evidence is admissible in legal proceedings, assisting law enforcement agencies and organizations in solving cases and prosecuting cybercriminals. They document findings, write detailed reports, and may testify as expert witnesses in court.

Incident Responder

Earning Potential: $75,000-$160,000+ annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in computer forensics or related field

An incident responder is a cybersecurity professional who reacts swiftly to security incidents and data breaches. They assess the extent of the breach, identify the root cause, and develop immediate response strategies. Incident responders work to contain and mitigate the threat, limiting damage and preventing further compromise. They also investigate the incident to understand how it occurred and develop strategies to prevent future attacks. Incident responders are essential for maintaining the security and resilience of an organization’s digital infrastructure in the face of evolving cyber threats. Their quick thinking and expertise are crucial in minimizing the impact of security incidents and safeguarding sensitive data.

Cybersecurity Consultant

Earning Potential: $80,000-$170,000+ annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in computer forensics or related field

A cybersecurity consultant provides expert guidance to organizations seeking to enhance their digital security efforts. They assess an organization’s vulnerabilities, evaluate existing security measures, and recommend strategies to protect against cyber threats. Consultants help clients develop robust security policies and procedures, ensuring compliance with industry regulations. They may conduct security audits, penetration testing, and risk assessments to identify weaknesses and recommend remediation. Cybersecurity consultants work closely with clients in various industries, offering tailored solutions to safeguard digital assets and data.

Online Master’s in Computer Forensics Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in computer forensics degree program?

Graduate programs may have different requirements, including whether students must submit GRE test scores or letters of recommendation. In all cases, students must submit undergraduate transcripts as part of the application to an accredited university.

Contact admissions counselors for the schools you are interested in is always a good idea because they can verify the exact application requirements, which could save you plenty of time and effort.

How much does an online master’s in computer forensics degree cost?

The average cost of an online graduate degree is $19,749. However, different factors may affect your specific charges, including whether you are attending a public or private university and whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student. Regardless of where the online graduate degree program is located, you will save money compared to an in-person program. That is because you will not need to move to a new town and pay for housing, and you won’t have to pay any fees (such as in-person lab fees) that may be associated with any of your on-campus coursework.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in computer forensics degree?

Like its face-to-face counterpart, an online master’s in computer forensics typically takes two years to complete for students who are attending full-time. Those who attend part-time will take longer to complete, and students who enroll in an accelerated program may be able to finish in as little as one year.

Aside from whether or not the course is accelerated, the exact number of credits required (as well as exactly when required courses are offered) will ultimately affect how long it takes to attain your degree. While accelerated programs are tempting because you will finish quicker, finding a program whose schedule best suits your current needs is crucial.

Is an online master’s in computer forensics worth it?

With cyber threats on the rise, computer forensics experts are essential for safeguarding digital information and protecting organizations from cyberattacks. With the field growing much faster than the economy as a whole, there will be a need for roughly 53,200 new professionals entering the field by 2032, according to BLS data.

Many of these new positions will likely offer high salaries and competitive benefits. According to, a digital forensic investigator in the U.S. makes a median salary of $82,491, with those at the upper end of the field earning into the six figures.

An online program offers multiple benefits, especially for adult learners who may have other personal or professional commitments. Asynchronous classes allow students to take courses at times that are convenient for them. The lack of commuting expenses can save money, and there will also be no residential fees for on-campus living to contend with. Overall, an online master’s in computer forensics offers convenience, expertise, and cost-effectiveness, making it an attractive choice for aspiring cybersecurity professionals.

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