Demand continues to grow for criminal investigation professionals who specialize in cybersecurity. While a traditional criminal justice degree is still desirable and qualifies candidates for many jobs within the criminal justice system, applicants who are interested in cybersecurity are advised to pursue an undergraduate degree within that specialization. Fortunately, students have several degree options that offer the best preparation for work as cybersecurity professionals.
Computer Criminology Major
Bachelor’s degree programs in computer criminology provide students with a well-rounded education in criminal justice. Students learn about the principles of criminology and law enforcement and how those principles apply to computer crimes. Half of the course work in these programs is devoted to the study of criminology, and half is devoted to the study of computer science. Computer science courses teach students the fundamentals of programming, computer security and system administration.
Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
A bachelor’s degree program in cybersecurity and information assurance prepares students for work in government and private industry. Graduates of these programs are prepared to enter the workplace as investigators who are trained to gather data and evidence that can be used to prosecute a variety of cybercrimes including credit card fraud, hacking and terrorism. Cybersecurity professionals also are qualified to install and monitor security software, track security breaches and plan computer security strategies for organizations.
Computer Forensics and Digital Investigations
To enter the field of computer forensics and digital investigations, students should have at least a bachelor’s degree in this field. In these programs, students take a variety of courses spanning several different disciplines including criminal justice, accounting and computer science. Specialized course work teaches students about computer networking and security, criminal investigations, forensic accounting and cybercrimes. Forensics courses provide students with the ability to utilize digital forensic tools such as smart phones and tablets to conduct investigations.
A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity prepares students for leadership roles in information security positions. Major course work includes the study of networking, cybersecurity and technology and media. Special emphasis is placed on the study of digital forensics and the application of these concepts to the criminal justice system. For example, students learn how to use cellphones to track information that may be relevant to a criminal case. Graduates of these programs are prepared to design and implement network security systems and to analyze a variety of cybercrimes. They may find employment at all levels of government as well as private industry.