The massive volume of electronic data being produced and stored every second has created new and exciting career opportunities in emerging fields like cyber security and computer forensics. Electronic discovery (e-discovery) is a means of combatting cybercrime, and more specifically a specialization of computer forensics that deals with collecting, producing and recovering Electronically Stored Information (ESI) as part of a lawsuit or ongoing investigation. E-discovery technicians pull ESI from unique places like cell phones, digital cameras and video recorders, all while ensuring that the data is not altered or destroyed.
While e-discovery professionals primarily focus on collecting data and metadata from multiple hard drives and other storage units, computer forensic experts dig even deeper to recover inaccessible files. Companies are increasingly employing more and more professionals to help prevent data breaches, which means that purusing a degree or certificate from an excellent E-Discovery program is a fantastic career choice. Graduates with industry certifications in addition to specific academic training in cybercrime and cyber security are in high demand.
1. University of California at San Diego Extension has begun offering an e-discovery and litigation technology certificate program to meet the demands of its students and community. The UC San Diego Extension program is available entirely online and can be completed by working legal professionals in as little as six months. Because this program is specifically geared towards the legal profession, students will learn not only the technological aspects of e-discovery but also how to apply these processes to working with clients and presenting discovered evidence effectively in the courtroom.
2. University of California at Irvine is another California-based e-discovery program for interested professionals to consider. The UCI program is offered in cooperation with Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS). Upon completion of the three-month program, graduates will earn the designation of ACEDS fellow and be eligible for ACEDS membership. This e-discovery program is offered at the university’s Irvine campus and tuition, which includes a one-year ACEDS membership, is $1199.
3. Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a small, private school with a very good teacher to student ratio and was recently named the top school for lowest student debt post-graduation by the Institute of College Access and Success. This school offers a six course, 18 credit professional certificate in computer forensics and e-discovery, which touts evening courses designed for working professionals in mind. Faculty members are highly qualified and trained experts in the field of surveillance, who have worked with the FBI and Homeland Security Departments. The program helps students understand the field of forensics, cyber crime and cyber security, and teaches students how evidence is collected and stored and how to search a computer’s memory for hidden and deleted files.
4. American Public University, with its main campus in Charles Town, West Virginina, offers a graduate certificate in cybercrime that focuses on teaching students on how to investigate and prevent cybercrime and takes 12 months to complete. Of the 6 required courses, e-discovery is the culminating (and most emphasized) course. Upon completion of this online program, students will understand contemporary investigative methods in relation to preservation of digital evidence, metadata forensics, cost containment and data collection. Students must possess a bachelor’s degree in IT or related fields like computer science or information systems. They are also required to complete the university’s undergraduate IT Certificate Program.
5. John Jay College of Criminal Justice – CUNY boasts the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Center for Cybercrime Research. Each year, this college brings on a select few research students to work as Digital Forensics and Cyber Security Fellows while pursuing the MS in digital forensics and cyber security. This is an incredibly elite program with faculty such as Douglas Salane, who is the current director of the Cybercrime Research Center, as well as a former cybercrime analyst for the Exxon Corp.
6. University of South Florida, located in Tampa, offers two brand new interdisciplinary programs: a master of science in cyber security and a graduate certificate in cyber security in addition to a master of science in cybercrime. The university offers specialized training and industry certifications for cyber security professionals in Florida but students can and do take their training out of state as well. In addition, the school will offer a specialized cyber security certification program for both in-service veterans and those transitioning back to civilian careers.
7. Georgia Southern University with campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, and Hinesville, offers a graduate certificate in cybercrime, geared primarily towards law enforcement professionals, non-profit agencies and private industries. One of the key elements that sets this program apart is the “state of the science” cyber security infrastructure that was designed by the in-house Center for Applied Cyber Education (CACE). This 18-hour course does not require an on-campus visit, which makes it one of the few 100 percent online cybercrime programs. Due to collaboration with local law enforcement offices, many post-graduate students from this program find easy employment in law enforcement and public safety agencies throughout Southeastern Georgia.
The following criteria were used in compiling this list. Although the criteria may not apply to all schools, all of the schools meet at least 3 of the 4 criteria.
1. Programs in E-Discovery, Cybercrime or Cyber Security:
All schools offer graduate certificate programs in e-discovery, cybercrime or cyber security. Some schools also offer further specialization and industry certification.
2. Notable Faculty:
Faculty is highly qualified in their respective fields. They range from well-published scholars to well known industry experts, and come from diverse backgrounds like litigation, technology, business and law enforcement.
3. Learning Experiences and Support:
These schools provide hands-on learning experiences with labs, externships, clinics and research opportunities. In addition, many offer job placement opportunities and post-graduate support for job-seekers.
4. Accessibility and Ease of Learning:
Many of the schools offer programs geared towards working professionals offering evening classes and virtual learning options. Some schools also offer special scholarships and programs geared towards diverse learners, such as veterans, low-income students or racial minorities.