Note: As of catalog publication in April, the title for this program (formerly known as Computer Forensics, MS) has been approved by the Board of Visitors and sent to the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia. 

Digital forensics is a discipline addressing the collection, processing, and analysis of digital data to reason about past or current events.  The data can be from physical media, a mobile device, real-time network traffic, the Internet of Things (IoT), unknown code, and many other sources. Digital forensics is interdisciplinary by its nature and our program includes computer engineering, computer science, information technology, law, and ethics.  Digital forensics is a key component in criminal, civil, cyber defense, incident response, intelligence, and counter-terrorism matters. In the last several years, with a proliferation of digital storage, transmission, and processing of sensitive information, there has been an increase in the aberrant use of digital devices. This aberrant behavior includes but is not limited to: digital extortion, intrusions, economic espionage, child exploitation, cybercrime, fraud, terrorism, and identity theft.  In response to this, digital forensics has become an important profession serving both public and private sectors.  The MS in Digital Forensics/Cyber Analysis will prepare graduates for a wide variety of careers to include law enforcement, various other branches of government, and all facets of cyber security by combining academic education with real world practical techniques and by offering advanced training in analyzing digital evidence, intrusion forensics, reverse engineering, network analysis, and legal and ethical issues.

Admissions

Students who hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in engineering, math, science, computer science, business (with a quantitative background), economics, or other analytical disciplines, or students who have equivalent work experience indicating analytical aptitude, may apply. Depending on their background, some applicants may be required to complete 3 to 12 credits of preliminary course work before they are allowed to enroll in any of the core or specialty courses in the program. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.00 is required for acceptance.

Banner Code: VS-MS-DFCA

(formerly VS-MS-CFRS)

Note: As of catalog publication in April, the title for this program (formerly known as Computer Forensics, MS) has been approved by the Board of Visitors and sent to the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia. 

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 30

Students must complete a minimum of 30 graduate credits beyond the bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.00 or higher, with no more than 6 credit hours of C grades. The plan of study includes an 21-credit required Core component which includes a mandatory capstone course, and the choice of either a concentration or a 9-credit elective component as shown below:

Core Courses

CFRS 500Introduction to Forensic Technology and Analysis 13
or ISA 562 Information Security Theory and Practice
CFRS 510Digital Forensics Analysis3
CFRS 660Network Forensics3
CFRS 661Digital Media Forensics3
CFRS 663Operations of Intrusion Detection for Forensics3
or CFRS 664 Incident Response Forensics
CFRS 760Legal and Ethical Issues in IT 23
or CFRS 770 Fraud and Forensics in Accounting
CFRS 790Advanced Computer Forensics3
Total Credits21
1

It is required that CFRS 500 Introduction to Forensic Technology and Analysis be taken for those with little to no experience in digital forensics.

2

Both CFRS 760 Legal and Ethical Issues in IT and CFRS 770 Fraud and Forensics in Accounting may be taken but only one may be used in the core component.

MS with Concentration in Penetration Testing/Reverse Engineering (PTRE)

Focused on the practical aspects of penetration testing and reverse engineering. Students are expected to master tools, techniques, and methodologies of penetration testing and reverse engineering.

CFRS 761Malware Reverse Engineering3
CFRS 767Penetration Testing in Computer Forensics3
CFRS 772Forensic Artifact Extraction3
or CFRS 775 Kernel Forensics and Analysis
Total Credits9

Electives

Students who do not choose the above concentration should select 9 credits from the following:9
Special Topics in Computer Forensics
Operations of Intrusion Detection for Forensics
Incident Response Forensics
Independent Reading and Research
Memory Forensics
Digital Audio Video Forensics
Linux Forensics
Forensic Deep Packet Inspection
Cloud Forensics
Legal and Ethical Issues in IT 1
Malware Reverse Engineering
Mobile Device Forensics
Registry Forensics - Windows
Mac Forensics
Penetration Testing in Computer Forensics
Digital Warfare
Anti-Forensics
Fraud and Forensics in Accounting 1
Digital Forensic Profiling
Forensic Artifact Extraction
Mobile Application Forensics and Analysis
Kernel Forensics and Analysis
Advanced Topics in Computer Forensics
Microprocessors
Advanced Microprocessors
Real-Time Embedded Systems
Design and Analysis of Computer Communication Networks
Cryptography and Computer Network Security
Advanced Applied Cryptography
Security Policy
Security Audit and Compliance Testing
Network Security
Intrusion Detection
Research in Digital Forensics
Advanced Secure Networking
Basic Crime Analysis
Total Credits9
1

Both CFRS 760 Legal and Ethical Issues in IT and CFRS 770 Fraud and Forensics in Accounting may be taken, but only one may be used in the core component.

Other courses may be appropriate as electives in the degree program, but they must be approved prior to registration. 

Cyber Security Engineering, BS/Digital Forensics and Cyber Analysis(title change pending SCHEV approval), Accelerated MS

Overview

Highly-qualified students in the Cyber Security Engineering, BS have the option of obtaining an accelerated Digital Forensics and Cyber Analysis, MS.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Admission Requirements

Students in the Cyber Security Engineering, BS program may apply for this option if they have earned 90 undergraduate credits with an overall GPA of at least 3.25. Criteria for admission are identical to criteria for admission to the Digital Forensics and Cyber Analysis, MS program.

Accelerated Option Requirements

Students must complete all credits that satisfy requirements for the BS and MS programs, with 6 credits overlapping.

Students register for two Digital Forensics and Cyber Analysis core courses (6 credits) in place of two of the three required technical electives, as part of the undergraduate degree requirements.  Specifically, students must take:

CFRS 500Introduction to Forensic Technology and Analysis3
and one of the following:3
Digital Forensics Analysis (satisfies the IT 357 requirement for the INFS concentration in the BS program)
Network Forensics (satisfies one NTEL concentration course in the BS program)
Total Credits6

Note: Students complete all Digital Forensics and Cyber Analysis, MS core courses and apply the two courses from the above list toward the Digital Forensics and Cyber Analysis, MS requirements.

Degree Conferral

Students must apply the semester before they expect to complete the BS requirements to have the BS degree conferred. In addition, at the beginning of the student’s final undergraduate semester, students must complete a Bachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s Transition form that is submitted to the Office of the University Registrar and the VSE Graduate Admissions Office. At the completion of MS requirements, a master’s degree is conferred.

Information Technology, BS/Digital Forensics and Cyber Analysis (title change pending SCHEV approval), Accelerated MS

Overview

Highly-qualified students in the Information Technology, BS have the option of obtaining an accelerated Digital Forensics and Cyber Analysis, MS.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Admission Requirements

Students in the Information Technology, BS program may apply for this option if they have earned 90 undergraduate credits with an overall GPA of at least 3.25. Criteria for admission are identical to criteria for admission to the Digital Forensics and Cyber Analysis, MS program.

Accelerated Option Requirements

Students must complete all credits that satisfy requirements for the BS and MS programs, with 6 credits overlapping with two of the following three courses:

CFRS 500Introduction to Forensic Technology and Analysis3
CFRS 510Digital Forensics Analysis (satisfies the IT 357 requirement for the INFS concentration in the BS program)3
CFRS 660Network Forensics (satisfies as one NTEL concentration course in the BS program)3

Degree Conferral

Students must apply the semester before they expect to complete the BS requirements to have the BS degree conferred. In addition, at the beginning of the student’s final undergraduate semester, students must complete a Bachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s Transition form that is submitted to the Office of the University Registrar and the VSE Graduate Admissions Office. At the completion of MS requirements, a master’s degree is conferred.