Below you will find answers from the program director for questions often posed by prospective students. While the information provided here should be correct, it reflects the program director's unofficial views (some information may be provided about changes to be made in the program before they are official).
The current deadline for FCM applicatons can be found on the graduate admissions web page here. Applications are considered when all required materials have been received. Thus, be sure to request references and take the GRE's early enough to have them received for a timely review of your application.
Sure! Please make arrangements to do so by contacting the program director or the Graduate Office of Admissions.
We usually have Spring admissions but may not. If we do, the deadline for Spring applications is usually early in December. Check for the most recently posted date here:
The program requires students to have understanding of basic computer science. Why? Because serious digital forensic science requires understanding the science behind forensic and security technology. The background knowledge required includes such fundamental skills and concepts as programming, data structures, algorithms, operating systems and networks. Students who were computer science majors should have this knowledge in hand. A fair assumption is that people who did not major in computer science or a closely related major lack some of this requisite knowledge. The irony is this may include people who have extensive experience and training in information technology, and even people who work in digital forensics and computer security. If you wish to become a digital forensic scientist, however, rather than just a technician then you need to know the science underneath the technology. The good news is you can prepare for that with CSIBridge, the Computer Science for Digital Forensics Bridge Program via either the intensive and accelerate certificate path or a more relaxed undergraduate path.
You do not have to been a computer science major, albeit the stronger one's background the better; however, you need to know basic computer science. While the courses that would serve to provide an adequate background may vary from one college to another a bit, below are the courses offered at John Jay that would qualify to serve as a template. Most computer science programs will offer courses that are close in name or topic to these courses:
A 'bridge' program provides a path to someone who needs to gain a technical background before they qualify to take advanced courses. The concprovides non-computer science majors with the background they need to take our technical courses in digital forensic science and cybersecurity based on computer science. We offer a special admissions program for that called CSIBridge: Computer Science for Digital Forensics.
As an alternative to CSIBridge, applicants may take the GRE subject exam in Computer Science and present a score on that examination for consideration with their application. Information about the GRE exam in Computer Science can be found on the GRE web site: www.gre.org/subdesc.html
Graduate coursework in forensic computer science employs various mathematical concepts, mostly from discrete math. Applicants must demonstrate a facilty with mathematics either through success in undergradaute calculus, statistics, or discrete math courses, or high math GRE scores. Students without a course in discrete math may be required to take either an undergraduate course or enroll in a CSIBridge Foundations course. A solid math background is a significant advantage in the program as applicants who have completed two semesters of calculus will be qualified to study the statistical techniques becoming more common in digital forensics.
The program does not require any particular background or undergraduate college coursework in criminal justice or social science. Of course, applicants with criminal justice, law enforcement and investigative experience are especially welcome. All applicants, however, should be prepared to demonstrate a capacity to succeed in criminal justice and law courses that require substantial reading and writing at the graduate level. Demonstration of this capacity may be based upon such factors as grades in social science or humanities courses, personal publications, and the verbal and analytical writing score on the GRE’s.
The GPA is one measure of an applicant's potential to succeed in graduate school coursework. An undergraduate GPA of less than 3.0 causes concern because the minimum GPA required in graduate school is a 3.0. For mid-career applicants who have been out of school for some time, there may be a weak link between their current potential and their undergraduate record. Thus, the GPA is considered in the context of career experience and other graduate school or academic experience. For applicants without career experience, however, a GPA of 3.0 or better is regarded as one fair measure of potential to succeed in the program. Return
Scores from the general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required. A computerized version of the GRE is offered monthly at many locations. The GRE score is one factor in the admissions decision and is especially useful to assess a candidate’s potential to succeed in graduate law and criminal justice courses where significant reading and writing are assigned. Information about the GRE is available at www.gre.org.
GRE scores are just one factor in the admissions profile of applicants. However, verbal and quantitative scores above the median and a writing analytic score of 4.0 or better are viewed favorably. Scores below these must be balanced by strong evidence of potential in other areas.
Applicants who have already taken other graduate entrance exams may ask to waive the GRE requirement and submit an alternative exam. These exams include the GMAT and LSAT. If you have already taken such an exam then you should have your scores submitted with your application and a letter requesting a waiver. However, candidates whose GMAT or LSAT scores are below the median are advised to submit GRE scores.
Applicants who have earned a graduate degree that required a thesis have the option of not submtting GRE scores. Non-thesis masters students are required to submit GRE scores. In any case, possession of a graduate degree does not assure admission and an application may be strengthend by providing GRE scores. Return
The program's goal is to have from 10-15 new students each year. About two-thirds of those who apply are accepted for admission.
Up to twelve graduate transfer credits can be accepted for credit. These credits must be for courses that are comparable to courses in the program.
Classes are normally offered in the early evening (4:05-6:05PM) or evening (6:15-8:15PM) from Monday to Thursday night to accommodate working students.
No. While most classes in the program have some online component, courses in the program are not available either online or via distance education.
There are usually about 40 students enrolled in courses in any given semester.
Pretty good, based on the success of our graduates and forecasts for the field. If you are interested in a career in investigations the era of high-technology crime has eclipsed the capacity of traditionally equipped and trained law enforcement agencies and personnel to cope with ever increasing amounts of digital evidence and novel modes of cybercrime. Thus, electronic crime labs are being opened around the country by federal, state and local agencies and the demand for managers, investigators and technicians to work in such labs is growing. As well, virtually every major corporation and agency encounters forensic challenges and must confront the need for qualified investigators. The forensic workload far exceeds the supply. The career backstop, however, is that the demand for cybersecurity and information assurance specialists will continue apace. It is fair to say cybersecurity is a much larger realm than digital forensics. For its part, John Jay seeks to produce versatile forensic computing and cybersecurity professionals with the educational foundation to assure a comfortable, rewarding and engaging career. Thus, the career prospects of the program's graduates are very promising.
The range of time to degree has been from three to thirteen semesters with the median at six semesters. Due to the rigor of the program we regard three courses as a prudent full-time load. Indeed, many D4CS students who work take only one or two courses a semester in order to balance work, school and family. Students can speed up degree progress by doing their capstone fieldwork or research during the summer. Students who need to acquire the computer science background needed for the degree program or who have other conditions of admission will need longer to complete the program.