Explore Digital Forensic Science
Advance your career with a top-ranked, award-winning, and nationally recognized digital forensics education. Champlain's online master's in digital forensics degree develops students into scientists through an inspired, cutting-edge curriculum, closely aligned with emerging technology and new trends in the industry.
A Nationally Recognized Leader in Digital Forensics
Champlain is a nationally recognized leader in cybersecurity and computer forensics education and home of the Senator Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Investigation & Cybersecurity. With a robust faculty of expert-practitioner instructors who have significant experience working for top organizations and are sought-after thought leaders in the field, we specialize in building agile cybersecurity and digital forensics programs that the meet mission-critical needs of today's businesses, nonprofit organizations, and state and federal governments.
Champlain has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the U.S. National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security since 2006, and Champlain cybersecurity programs have been named best in the nation by SC Magazine. Champlain is also designated as a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence by the Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) Air Force Office of Special Investigations - the fifth college in the nation to receive this distinction.
Build Your Career Future
Through this hands-on digital forensics master's degree program taught by industry experts who are working for some of the leading organizations in the field, you'll earn how to gather and utilize digital evidence and apply investigative techniques to real-world scenarios. With a focus on both technical expertise (including knowledge of over 34 scripting languages and cloud and software applications, listed below) and advanced soft skills such as leadership and communication, you'll be prepared to handle the complex demands of a career in the growing digital forensics field.
Academic Excellence and Recognition
Regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education
Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News & World Report
Designated as a Military Friendly School for our commitment to the military community
Named the Best Private Online College by Intelligent.com
Prepare For What's Next
As network breaches and digital crimes become more prevalent, the need for highly qualified digital forensics professionals is rapidly growing in organizations across all sectors, including mid- to large-sized corporations, crime laboratories, state and national law enforcement agencies, or large municipalities. With a valuable combination of technical skills, subject matter expertise and the critical soft-skills needed in leadership roles, graduates of Champlain's online digital forensics master's degree program will be competitive candidates for a variety of roles in the field.
Master's degrees are in high demand in the business world, and employment in master’s-level occupations is projected to grow by almost 17 percent from 2016 to 2026. A master's degree also pays off: the median salary for professionals with a master's degree is $72,800+.*
*Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2019; job titles: BestColleges.com, 2019
What can you do with a degree in digital forensics?
- Computer and Information Research Scientist
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Information Security Analyst
Learn more about Champlain's 100% online master's in digital forensics program, designed for working professionals.
Champlain's online digital forensic science courses encompass the top skills needed by today's computer forensics professionals.
*Note: Some essential knowledge is required prior to admission to the MS DFS program. During your application process it will be determined if you meet all prerequisites; students who meet them will be waived from DFS 500 and will earn a 30 credit Master of Science in Digital Forensic Science. Those who do not meet the prerequisite requirements will have the opportunity to gain the knowledge they need by taking DFS 500 and will graduate with a 33 credit degree.
In this course, students will acquire explicit legal knowledge, particular computer and other digital device skills, and good oral and written forensic reporting abilities needed for successful completion of the Master's Degree. In this class students have the first contact with digital forensic software like FTK Imager, Autopsy, ProDiscover Basic, and OSForensics.
Students will be using FTK Imager, Magnet Encrypted Disk Detector, OS Forensics Volatility Workbench, Kali Linux, Reg Ripper, Network Miner, and Wireshark to develop a foundation framework for the practice of Digital investigations, including technical and managerial issues.
Students will develop the ability to write basic python scripts (WIngIDE) to help in digital investigations. Students will also interpret scripts written in other languages, like EnCase Enscript or Perl or Microsoft Powershell or UNIX Shell Script.
Students will use tools such as The Sleuth Kit and Volatility to conduct forensic analysis of PC & server operating systems and software running on those systems, while gaining a knowledge set of forensic relevant information about operating systems, including those used in mobile devices. Finally, students will look at the challenges of virtualization, including those that come with the growth of Cloud systems.
In this class, students use tools like nfdump, Snort and Wireshark for network forensic analysis in the context of the role of an incident response team.
This course will teach the concepts and techniques needed to preserve and analyze data on a range of mobile electronic devices, including mobile phones, tablets, eBook readers, and GPS systems. Some of the tools used in this course are Magnet Forensics Axiom, Access Data FTK Imager, EnCase, Cellebrite Physical Analyzer, DB Browser, and Andriller.
In this class, students will assess and discuss the legal issues currently affecting the practice of digital forensics. Some of the highlights are the study of the following topics: “Cloud Act” and “Data Nationalism”; Supreme Court’s Efforts to Meet the Challenges of “Digital Evidence”; Encryption vs Privacy; and GDPR and the “Right to Be Forgotten.”
The course introduces principles of digital investigations that are specific to civil litigation. While litigation support services typically utilize many of the same tools, processes, and procedures as public sector criminal investigations, private sector use of computer forensics frequently involves issues that the public sector does not often consider, such as data recovery and restoration, erasure of media, and electronic discovery. Students will examine case studies of public sector digital investigations to compare with private sector methodologies.
The capstone class is a natural conclusion to the work in the entire program. Students will approach in this class something in the digital forensic field that has not been fully developed yet and will develop and present a methodology for performing forensic investigation in a way that improves what is already known.
Complete 27 credits
In this course, students gain an insight into malware behavior, including infection vectors, propagation and persistence mechanisms, and artifacts. Some of the used tools are Pescanner, Xorserach, Interactive Disassembler Professional (IDA Pro), Mandiant IOC Editor, Ollydbg, Windbg, FindCrypt2, Krypto ANALyzer (KANAL), Volatility.
While using tools like Kerberos, openPGP and WireShark, students will learn encryption and hashing algorithm techniques and develop basic understanding of encryption cracking techniques and methods to counter whole-disk encryption and network based encryption.
In DFS-565, we discuss some of the challenges and decisions that confront managers, supervisors, and administrators in private and public lab environments. We will examine some of the special situations that professionals might encounter during digital forensics lab careers. This class is less focused on the technical aspects of digital forensics and more on some of the human aspects of managing people, making decisions, and managing administrative operations in the lab environment.
In addition to developing advanced communication and analytical skills, and a strategic mindset, graduates of the digital forensic science master's online program will demonstrate a mastery of the following industry-specific competencies:
- Evaluate the role of evidence management in forensic examination.
- Assess the legal issues affecting the practice of digital forensics.
- Develop software tools for the automation of data processing, manipulation, and analysis.
- Develop methodologies for the preservation and analysis of digital devices.
- Conduct the forensic analysis of a variety of digital devices and data, including:
- PC and Server Operating systems
- Portable devices
- Network traffic
- Network devices
- Application software
- Server software
- Specialized embedded systems
- Malicious software
- Evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of digital forensic methods, software, and hardware.
- Effectively communicate complex scientific topics in the digital forensics to both expert and lay audiences.
- Conduct independent research in the digital forensic science field.
- Develop the skill set for leading in the digital forensics field.
- Access Data
- Cellebrite Physical Analyzer
- DB Browser
- EnCase Encript
- FTK Imager
- Interactive Disassembler Professional (IDA Pro)
- Kali Linux
- Krypto ANALyzer (KANAL)
- Magnet Encrypted Disk Detector
- Magnet Forensics Axiom
- Mandiant IOC Editor
- Microsoft Powershell
- Network Miner
- OS Forensics Volatility Workbench
- ProDiscover Basic
- Reg Ripper
- The Sleuth Kit
- UNIX Shell Script
In addition to the admission requirements for all graduate program applicants, our online master's of digital forensic science program has specific requirements that must be met.
Requisite Knowledge Requirement/Conditional Acceptance
In the application review process, all candidates for admission will be assessed for prior work experience and/or academic coursework that provides a solid foundation in the following three areas:
- Digital forensic investigative techniques
- Computer crime laws
- Evidence acquisition and handling
Applicants who have not demonstrated requisite knowledge in their application but are otherwise admissible will be conditionally accepted and be provided with options for demonstrating competence prior to beginning the program.
Pathway For Those Without An IT Background
For those interested in the M.S. in Digital Forensic Science, but who do not have a background in IT, we have created a pathway for you to gain the foundational knowledge necessary to pursue this degree.
Our program director has determined successful completion of specific undergraduate courses will prepare you for conditional admittance into the program. These courses are Networking Fundamentals and Intro to Operating Systems. Relational Database Design & SQL is strongly recommended, but not required. Please speak with your admission advisor regarding this pathway as well as the conditional admittance policy for the M.S. in Digital Forensic Science.
Champlain College Online's computer forensics faculty, led by Program Director Sérgio Tenreiro de Magalhães, PhD, are expert practitioners in the field. Their industry expertise ensures that our master's in digital forensics curriculum is aligned with the needs of employers, and reflects the skills today’s digital forensics professionals need for success. Classes led by our seasoned experts will give you real-world insight into the field and create a rich community of career-focused learning.
Alumni of the Champlain College Online Master's in Digital Forensics program work in corporations, government organizations, law enforcement agencies, and municipalities nationwide, including:
- Army Corps of Engineers
- Booz Allen Hamilton
- Bridgestone Americas
- CACI International
- CSX Corporation
- Government of Ontario, Ministry of Finance
- New Britain Police Department
- Department of Defense (DOD)
- Department of the Treasury
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- Department of the Treasury
- Digital Forensic Certification Board
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- Kyrus Technology
- Northrup Grumman
- Pathoras Corporation
- United States Marine Corps
- Vermont Forensic Lab
- Washington County Sheriff's Office
Titles our alumni hold include:
- Computer Forensic Analyst
- Counterintelligence Specialist
- Criminal Investigator
- Digital Forensic Examiner
- Digital Forensics Investigator
- Digital Forensics Specialist
- Division Coordinator
- Forensic Computer Examiner
- Forensics Branch Chief
- Forensic Scientist
- IT Supervisor
- IT Strategist
- Intelligence Analyst
- Lead Incident Responder
- Security Engineer
- Senior Forensic Professional
- Senior Information Technology Specialist
- Senior Program Area Lead
- Senior Security Engineer
- Supervisory Special Agent
Tuition & Costs
Continuing your education is an investment in your future. Learn more about our affordable tuition rates.
Meet the Program Director
Sérgio Tenreiro de MagalhãesPhD
- Cybersecurity (B.S., Undergraduate Certificates)
- Software Development (A.S., B.S., Certificates)
- Digital Forensic Science (M.S.)
Dr. Sérgio Tenreiro de Magalhães is Associate Professor and Chair of Cybersecurity at Champlain College Online.
Prior to Champlain, Dr. Magalhães was a researcher of the Software Engineering and Management Group (SEMAG) of the Algoritmi Research Center (University of Minho) and an Assistant Professor of the Catholic University of Portugal - Braga. He is a member and reviewer of a number of organizations, including the NATO Multinational Cyber Defense Education and Training project and the Editorial Committee of the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics.
Dr. Magalhães has a PhD in Information Systems and Technologies from the University of Minho (Portugal). His research interests focus on information security, intelligence and performance monitoring, and has published widely on security-related topics.
"Sometimes I got up early and used 5AM to 7AM to do my homework, and then if I had a break throughout the day, I could hop on my phone or tablet and access the online classroom through the app. Champlain makes going to school really accessible and easy."
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