The cyber security industry is widely considered one of the fastest-growing industries. Not only are cyber security jobs in high demand, but they are also attractive for a number of reasons. These roles can offer excellent pay packages, strong job security, highly transferable skills, and plenty of room for career development.
In this post, we will specifically focus on computer forensics, a vital sub-category of cyber security. We reveal the best online Bachelor’s degrees in computer forensics to help you gain the most relevant skills and knowledge and land the top computer forensics jobs. Many of these positions require that you have at least a computer forensics degree (sometimes called a digital forensics degree) under your belt.
We outline some of the key factors to consider when deciding on a degree, including the cost of your studies, job prospects, and the predicted salaries in computer forensics.
Best computer forensics degrees online
Do you want to pursue a digital forensics degree online? This could be the right decision for you, especially if you want more flexibility in your studies. Here are some of the most highly-rated online computer forensics degrees:
1. Champlain College
- Tuition cost: $38,160 or $318 per credit
2. University of Arizona
- Tuition cost: $60,000 or $500 per credit
3. Utica College
- Program: BS Cybersecurity Program with a Specialization in Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation
- Cost: $57,000 or $475 per credit
4. Stevenson University
- Cost: $54,000 or $450 per credit
5. Pace University
- Tuition cost: $66,600 or $555 per credit
6. University of Advancing Technology
- Tuition cost: $6,500 (9 credits) per semester
7. Robert Morris University
- Tuition cost: $95,400 or $795 per credit
8. DeVry University
- Tuition cost: $61,680 or $514 per credit
9. Regent University
- Program: B.S. in Cyber & Digital Forensics
- Tuition cost: $47,400 or $395 per credit
10. ECPI University
- Tuition cost: $7,452 per semester
How to choose the right digital forensics degree
Computer forensics is a fast-growing industry, with many types of degrees available that can help you obtain one of the top jobs in the field. The list of degrees above is an excellent place to get started in your search for an ideal degree, but it’s not exhaustive. Degrees in computer science, cyber security, engineering, cyber security law, and data governance often include modules on digital forensics and may give you the chance to secure top jobs.
Here are some of the main factors to consider when choosing which degree to apply for:
Delivery of the course
One crucial question you should ask yourself is whether you want to study in-person or online. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. Also, the best option for you will depend on your individual preferences and circumstances.
You might be the kind of person who prefers to discuss what you’ve learned with your professor and other students in-person. The other benefit of studying in-person is the access you have to the library and other facilities available at the school. Some people also prefer to study in a separate location from their home, as this can help with focus and motivation. On the other hand, one of the main advantages of an online degree is the flexibility it offers and the lack of travel involved. This will be an important factor for those with jobs or a busy home life.
You should also think about the time commitment of the degree, regardless of whether it’s in-person or online. Remember that a full-time degree is time-intensive and can be difficult to juggle alongside a full-time job or other duties. Fortunately, though, many degrees can be completed on a part-time basis and offer a practical schedule, such as the option of weekend or evening classes.
Another important factor that should influence your decision is school ranking. If you want to aim for the highest-paying jobs with the most opportunities, then you want to study at a school that will provide you with the best quality education. You can look at the overall ranking of different schools, as well as specific aspects of an institution that influence its ranking, such as:
- Class size
- Faculty salary
- Faculty with the highest degrees in their field
- Student-faculty ratio
- Graduation rate
- Student satisfaction
These individual factors indicate the kind of education you’ll receive. Some factors are more valuable than others, so be sure to research what goes into a particular school’s ranking.
Based on the examples of degrees listed above, you will notice that schools can vary quite widely in tuition costs. As a prospective student, price may have a huge influence on which degrees are accessible to you. There’s not just tuition costs to consider, of course; there are also expenses such as administration fees and learning materials. But if you have a set budget or don’t want to take out a substantial loan, many schools will offer grants and scholarships that can help with some of the costs. In some instances, financial support can cover all of your tuition fees, so it’s always worth exploring as many of these options as possible.
Once you’ve figured out the combined cost of your degree, with all fees and expenses included, you can then work out your return on investment. This means researching how much graduates earn after completing your chosen degree. PayScale provides alumni salaries, although these salaries should be taken as a rough estimate since the figures don’t relate to specific courses. Still, these numbers are a useful way for comparing various schools.
Course structure and content
Not every computer forensics degree will be structured in a similar way. For this reason, you should closely examine the course structure, including what topics you will focus on. You might want to hone in on certain topics over others, based on what personally interests you. You may also be looking ahead to specialize in a particular area in a Master’s degree or in your computer forensics career; the content of your Bachelor’s degree can help you along the way.
When looking at different degrees, it’s a good idea to reflect on which kind of structure will align with your preferences. Some people, for instance, might avoid a mostly exam-based assessment system, perhaps feeling more comfortable being graded on assignments throughout the year. Some courses include team projects as a large component of assessment. Often, personality type – such as introversion and extroversion – can dictate whether you will thrive in one program over another.
Try to go with a course that fits your comfort levels as much as possible. The more you enjoy your studies, the more you will get out of them.
Computer forensics requirements
Computer forensics Bachelor’s degrees tend to have prerequisites that you have to meet before being accepted onto the program. Be sure to find out what these requirements are before spending money on application fees. Bear in mind that many institutions can be flexible with their prerequisites, as long as you can show that you are a suitable candidate for the course.
If in doubt, you can always call or email the admissions department, who can answer any questions you have about the requirements for each program.
Benefits of a computer forensics degree
You may still be unsure whether a digital forensics degree is worth it and wondering about the major benefits of having a degree in this field. Here are some of the main ones:
There is a huge demand for those working in the area of computer forensics, and it’s expected to keep growing. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for information security analysts (which includes computer forensics work) is projected to grow by 32 percent from 2018 to 2028.
This growth rate is incredibly fast (much faster than the average rate of four percent). This strong demand means that you should find it relatively easy to secure an initial position. It also means you can expect a high degree of job security for many years to come.
If you acquire a degree in computer forensics, it will most likely be a worthwhile investment. This is because graduates, even in entry-level positions, can enjoy a relatively high salary in computer forensics. In addition, you’ll have the potential to earn a much higher income as you progress in your cyber security career.
By continuing your education with a relevant Master’s degree or certification, you can increase your chances of securing the top-paying jobs. There are also many opportunities for growth in this industry, which is good news for those interested in continued learning and skill development.
Studying a Bachelor’s degree in computer forensics will give you a wide range of technical and soft skills that you can apply to many fields. These transferable skills include:
- Digital forensic imaging
- Computer hardware inspection
- Intelligence and data analysis
- Correct handling and examination of mobile devices
- Knowledge of ISO standards and quality management systems
- Geo-location of digital data
- Critical thinking and cognitive reasoning
- Compliance to method/process
- Accurate reporting of evidence handling and analysis, which requires excellent verbal and written communication skills
Computer forensics jobs
The field of computer forensics consists of many different types of roles. But some of the most common jobs in the industry requiring a computer forensics or similar degree include:
- Digital forensics analyst
- Computer forensics analyst
- Mobile device analyst
- Information security consultant
- Information security officer
- Data protection officer
- Penetration tester
- System administrator
We should underscore here that even with a Bachelor’s degree in computer forensics, some employers will require additional certifications. This is to ensure that you have all the necessary skills and knowledge to solve a wide range of problems. Other employers may require or prefer that you have a Master’s degree in computer forensics or another related subject. If you have a career goal in mind, it’s important to find out the level of education that’s normally required or preferred for achieving that level of seniority.
Computer forensics degree salary
Now, you may be eager to find out what kind of salary you’ll earn once you’ve completed your computer forensics degree. Information from PayScale illustrates that you can expect the following salaries for these select positions:
|Role||Average||Entry level (<1 year)||Early career (1–4 years)||Mid-career (5–9 years)||Experienced (10–19 years)||Late career (20+ years)|
|Information security analyst||$72,576||$60,000||$68,000||$82,000||$95,000||$101,000|
|Forensic computer analyst||$74,078||$63,000||$70,000||$86,000||$101,000||$99,000|
|Digital forensics analyst||$71,480||unavailable||unavailable||unavailable||unavailable||unavailable|
|Information security officer||$92,267||$67,000||$76,000||$92,000||$107,000||$114,000|
These figures should be taken as a guide to the salaries you can actually expect to earn as a graduate. Remuneration will vary depending on location, organization, your level of experience, and other factors.
Other types of degree to consider
Perhaps you’re not entirely sold on the idea of a degree in computer forensics, yet you still want to enter the field of cyber security. A suitable option would be studying a broader degree, such as cyber security, computer science, engineering, or IT. By widening your studies to begin with, you can later discover what your main interests, passions, and goals are. On the other hand, you can undertake a different specialized degree. For example, if you’d like to focus more on the legal side of cyber security, cyber security law could be a good option.
If you already have a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, you likely won’t need to study a computer forensics Bachelor’s degree to secure a job in this industry. Instead, you might benefit from studying a Master’s degree in computer forensics. This will allow you to apply for more senior positions after graduating. You can also continue your studies by pursuing a PhD. This will provide you with a high level of expertise and specialization, as well as give you the opportunity to work in academia, in a teaching or research capacity.
Computer forensic degrees FAQs
How much does a computer forensics degree cost?
The cost of a computer forensics degree will vary depending on factors like studying in-person or online, the school you attend, how long you study for, and the materials you need. Tuition fees range between $20,000–$120,000, although based on the degrees listed above, you can realistically expect to pay between $35,000–100,000.
Is a degree in computer forensics worth it?
The computer forensics industry includes plenty of positions to choose from, as well as jobs in many different sectors. Along with these benefits is the promise of strong job security and a high starting salary, especially when compared to other tech jobs. For this reason, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in computer forensics can be well worth the investment of money, time, and effort.
But while a degree in computer forensics offers a good return on investment, you do need to have a strong interest in the content to be successful. These programs require dedication and the development of technical skills. Without a strong passion for computer forensics, the degree will feel much more difficult to complete.
Is computer forensics a good career?
As we have seen, the computer forensics industry is predicted to grow rapidly over the next decade. Decent starting salaries, strong job security, and ample opportunities for career development make computer forensics an appealing field for highly motivated individuals.
There are downsides to computer forensics roles to recognize, such as a certain amount of stress. For example, you need to be accurate and meticulous in your work, particularly when gathering evidence that may be used in court, which can be a difficult task. Furthermore, because technology is advancing at an ever-quickening pace, you’ll need to continually develop your knowledge and refine your skills. You must be dedicated and always willing to learn.