Penn State's World Campus offers an online master's in professional studies degree for information security and forensics specialists seeking to work in Homeland Security and closely related occupations. Penn State is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education designated by the Department of Homeland Security, also referred to as Cyber Defense. The university's program specializes in cyber and network security, cyber threat defenses and forensics, and in emergency and security management. Candidates may combine work experience and education in computer systems, statistics, math, and related information technologies. The university also offers an MPS degree in Homeland Security, and graduate certificates in cybersecurity and information assurance.
10 Most Affordable Master’s in Computer Forensics Online
This article will provide you with a list of well-researched programs offering an affordable online master’s in computer forensics. Earning a degree in computer forensics can help you to enter a career in the field, including working as a security consultant, computer forensics examiner, computer crime investigator, and cryptanalyst. An online program gives you the flexibility you need to complete your education in computer forensics.
Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Computer Forensics Online
|1||Pennsylvania State University-World Campus||University Park, PA|
|2||DeSales University||Center Valley, PA|
|3||Norwich University||Northfield, VT|
|4||Utica College||Utica, NY|
|5||Capella University||Minneapolis, MN|
|6||Champlain College||Burlington, VT|
|7||Stratford University||Fairfax, VA|
|8||University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL|
|9||University of Maryland University College||Adelphi, MD|
|10||Stevenson University||Stevenson, MD|
Accredited Online College Programs
Ranking Low-cost Online Computer Forensics Master’s
What are my career options for an online computer forensics master’s degree?
Symantec, one of the leading international computer security and software companies, maintains one of the most comprehensive collections of cyber crime intelligence in the world. The company’s 2017 threat report documented multi-million dollar virtual bank robberies, disruptions of the US electoral process, and a massive DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack through the Mirai botnet. Ransomware, email attacks, and use of IoT devices (routers, security cameras, devices operated through cloud services) are additional threats. All of these rapidly growing and changing threats add up to job opportunities in government and law enforcement, and in private industry. Even nonprofit organizations like colleges and universities or hospitals and medical clinics can have jobs for people with an online master’s in computer forensics.
Job opportunities for graduates with a degree, including a master’s in computer forensics online are expected to increase by 17 percent by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job titles working for large and medium-sized corporations include Forensic Computer Administrator, Security Analyst Digital Forensics, and Computer Forensic Security Engineer.
Positions in the justice system include court-based computer forensics examiners and criminal justice examiners. The Department of Homeland Security is a major employer of computer forensics graduates and consistently recruits for Digital Forensics and Forensics Analysts, software assurance professionals, cyber risk and strategic analysis professionals, and cyber intelligence and investigation administrators. Local and state governments and law enforcement agencies also employ computer forensics graduates in a variety of different positions. Working independently or as part of their official positions, computer forensics master’s degree professionals can also be expert witnesses in criminal or civil court and even work internationally.
Other career options include working to educate new computer forensics students in undergraduate, certificate, or graduate programs. Computer forensics master’s online graduates can also work as corporate trainers or consultants for security firms.
How much can I earn with an online computer forensics master’s?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that information security analysts with a bachelor’s degree earned a median pay of $92,600 per year in 2016. The highest 10 percent earned more than $147,290 a year, with the majority of high earners possessing a graduate certificate or master’s degree according to the BLS. More than 11,500 information security analysts worked in Virginia in 2016, according to the BLS, with an annual mean salary of $105,440. California employed the second-highest number of information security analysts (7,990), with an annual mean wage of $108,780. More than 1,210 information security analysts worked in the Silicon Valley area in California in 2016, the BLS reported, earning more than $123,750 a year on average. In contrast, forensic science technicians working for law enforcement agencies earned an average of $56,750 per year, according to the BLS, but the majority of them do not have a master’s degree and do not have skills in digital forensics.
What are specialties in computer forensics?
Computer forensics specialists work to obtain information from computers that have been damaged or internally corrupted. Digital forensics professionals don’t just work on computers. They require expertise in mobile and IoT devices. Computer forensics certification exams identify different specialties, including Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE), Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI), EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCe), AccessData Certified Examiner, and many additional specialty certifications.
Technical investigation specialties include network forensics, mobile device forensics (from text messages to calls, access, and videos), and forensic data analysis. A multilingual candidate who obtained a cheap online master’s in computer forensics could work for the Department of Homeland Security analyzing international cyber threats or crimes in various world locations. Some cyber forensics experts serve as expert witnesses in criminal cases. Other specialties focus on the type of data involved in criminal activity, including video analysis, audio analysis, and work analyzing “big data” collected across digital networks.
What are my opportunities for advancement in computer forensics?
Many online computer forensics master’s college and university programs provide training and education in written communication and analysis, oral communication, principles of management, and leadership skills. A master’s degree could prepare computer forensics degree candidates for advancement into the management of a law enforcement investigative unit. Higher levels of public policy positions in government will also require a master’s in computer forensics. Obtaining an online degree gives you the ability to continue working as an analyst as you gain skills, experience, and knowledge that will prepare you to manage investigative teams.
Corporations that employ computer forensics professionals may have wide-ranging opportunities for candidates with a master’s in computer forensics online to lead corporate security divisions or to assume C-level or VP-level positions within the corporation. Private security firms also offer opportunities for C-level or VP-level employees who will head up divisions or develop products to meet the ever-growing array of cyber-threats against individuals, businesses, and government organizations.
Can I work for the FBI or Homeland Security with an online master’s in computer forensics?
Many current experts teaching in online master’s in computer forensics programs got their jobs with no formal education, only “on the job experience.” The FBI has several teams specializing in different types of computer and digital forensics, including the Computer Analysis Response Team. The Department of Homeland Security actively recruits recent graduates for a variety of positions as cryptanalysts, or in digital forensics, computer security, investigations, threat response, analysis, and assessment.
Is a job as a digital or computer forensics expert stressful?
Like many other jobs, you can control the amount of stress you have on the job working in computer forensics, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics and industry insiders report that computer and digital forensics professionals work more than 40 hours a week on average. The nature of the field also means that you could be on-call 24 hours a day. If you are already working in law enforcement, you know that few jobs in any kind of forensics are regular “9 to 5” jobs.
A Michigan State University study found that digital forensic examiners working in law enforcement experienced a backlog of evidence and increasing demands on their time to meet ever-growing needs to process evidence, make reports, and testify in legal proceedings. Another concern leading to on-the-job stress is the nature of some cybercrimes and evidence. Investigating international cybercrime can include terrorist threats and activity. Other investigators may be confronted with evidence in child pornography or human trafficking cases. The disturbing nature of such evidence is part of on-the-job stress for computer forensics experts and master’s degree programs frequently include education and training in how to work with this type of evidence, achieve the desired results, and maintain personal health and well-being.
Computer forensic experts also work with non-technical colleagues, whether they are in law enforcement, Homeland Security, or working in a bank or financial environment. Computer forensics professionals report that trying to communicate complex technical ideas to a non-technical team can be challenging and stressful.
Many online master’s in computer forensics programs recognize these stressful challenges and offer courses in oral and written communications and interpersonal relations. Leadership components of the programs can help graduates to understand stress, form appropriate professional boundaries, and excel at their work without suffering from burnout.
Computer forensics, digital forensics, and related fields constantly change, with new threats emerging daily. Strong online master’s in computer forensics programs are designed to prepare graduates for responsible positions in law enforcement, state and local governments, Homeland Security, large non-profit organizations such as colleges and universities, corporations, and private industry.
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