Authors: Syria McCullough (University of New Haven), Stella Abudu (University of New Haven), Ebere Onwubuariri (University of New Haven), and Ibrahim Baggili (University of New Haven)
DFRWS USA 2021
We present a comprehensive review of digital forensics programs offered by universities across the United States (U.S.). While numerous studies on digital forensics standards and curriculum exist, few, if any, have examined digital forensics courses offered across the nation. Since digital forensics courses vary from university to university, online course catalogs for academic institutions were evaluated to curate a dataset. Universities were selected based on online searches, similar to those that would be made by prospective students. Ninety-seven (n=97) degree programs in the U.S. were evaluated. Overall, results showed that advanced technical courses are missing from curricula. We conclude that most degree programs evaluated offer legal/cyber law & ethics, investigative processes, and lab & forensic operations courses. The courses offered the least were memory forensics, Internet of Things (IoT) forensics, and program & software forensics. The data shows that some universities with the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) accreditation are lacking instruction in timely digital forensics topics such as memory forensics (0%), hardware security (0%), program & software forensics (0%), and ethical hacking (0%). Investigative processes (100%), network forensics (100%), lab & forensic operations (100%), and a senior design/capstone project (100%) are offered at all FEPAC accredited universities in digital forensics and digital evidence. Undergraduate degree programs with the National Centers of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) designation had over a 50% offering rate for 11 out of the 22 courses we evaluated. However, memory forensics (0%) and IoT forensics (12.5%) were largely underrepresented. Our work provides an overview of the current state of digital forensics programs and discusses the importance of these courses to educate the next digital forensics workforce.