Ph.D. in Digital and Cyber Forensic Science

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The Doctor of Philosophy in Digital and Cyber Forensic Science is designed to produce students of the digital forensics and cyber-security realms with the technical skills, critical thinking ability, problem-solving skills, and advanced, discipline-specific knowledge to allow them to advance into leadership positions in business and industry as well as academia. This is accomplished by demonstrating the ability to perform independent and collaborative original research, the successful completion of academic coursework, hands-on experience in the laboratory, and collaboration with digital forensics and cyber-security agencies, institutes, and partners. The program will provide students with the theoretical, conceptual, methodological, and computational skills needed to understand the role of digital and cyber forensic science in post technological societies.The program will allow students to explore the potential for forensically sound digital data capture and analysis and to develop new tools and methods for handling digital and cyber forensic evidence. In doing so, this program has, as its primary focus, research into the computational and scientific basis for forensic and cyber technologies. 

The Ph.D. in Digital and Cyber Forensic Science is a full-time, on campus program.  Admission to the program requires devoting a significant amount of time to the program. Students are admitted as part of an annual cohort and have a fixed program of study in the first two years of the program.  

Applicants seeking admission to the doctoral program in forensic science must submit the following directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions:

  • Graduate Admissions Application
  • Application Fee
  • Bachelor's degree conferred by a regionally accredited institution in computer science, digital forensics, or a closely related field
  • Official transcript(s) from degree granting institution(s)
  • Official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended
  • GPA of 3.5 or higher
  • Program Application
  • Personal statement, not to exceed 1000 words
  • Three letters of recommendation. A minimum of two letters must be from faculty who are sufficiently acquainted with the student to comment on potential for success in the doctoral program
  • Current resume or vita
  • Official GRE scores. A minimum GRE score of 300 is required for acceptance into the program.  The GRE score is calculated as Verbal * 0.5 + Quantitative * 1.5
  • In some instances, a personal interview may be requested.

The program requires the completion of a minimum of eighty-five hours of graduate credit, as prescribed in the degree plan.

Students must register full-time and maintain a 3.0 grade point average in all courses. In order to advance to candidacy, students must have successfully completed forty-six graduate credit hours of coursework and internship, submit a portfolio for review, and pass Comprehensive Examinations. Once the doctoral program committee determines that the portfolio, proposal, and comprehensive examinations are satisfactory, the student may enroll in dissertation credits.

A minimum of fifteen hours of dissertation credits are required, and students must maintain continuous enrollment in DFSC 8370 Dissertation until they graduate. Students must complete and defend a doctoral dissertation, which is the product of original scholarly research and is of sufficient publishable quality to represent a meaningful contribution to knowledge in the field of digital and cyber forensic science.

The Ph.D. in Digital and Cyber Forensic Science requires the completion of 85 credit hours beyond the bachelor's degree. Students complete:

Core Coursework52
Dissertation Research15
Total Hours85

​The curriculum is designed to deliver an essential core curriculum in digital and cyber forensic science, together with specialized electives and intensive research in the area of interest. Students are expected to fulfill the requirements during four to five years of full-time study.

Ph.D. in Digital and Cyber Forensic Science
DFSC 5316File System Forensics3
DFSC 6410Cyber Forensics Principles4
DFSC 7106Seminar in Digital Forensics 14
DFSC 7300E-Discovery3
DFSC 7320Ethics for Digital Forensics3
DFSC 7330DF Laboratory Management3
DFSC 7340DF Tools & Techniques3
DFSC 7350Operating System Forensics3
DFSC 7352Network Forensic Analysis3
DFSC 7356Mobile Device Forensics3
DFSC 7358Live System & Memory Forensics3
DFSC 7360DF Research Methods3
DFSC 7362Computational Forensics3
DFSC 7364Scientific Communications3
DFSC 7600Internship6
FORS 5226Law And Forensic Sciences2
FORS 5337Fundamentals of Criminalistics3
STAT 7365Stat Mthd For Decision Making3
Select 4 of the following: 12
Cryptography & Steganography
Cyber Warfare & Terrorism
DF Infrastructure
Cloud Computing Forensics
RAID & Remote System Forensics
Intrusion Forensic Analysis
Malware Forensic Analysis
Social Network Forensics
Commercial Tool Verification
DFSC 8370Dissertation 215
Total Hours85

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) marketable skills initiative is part of the state’s 60x30TX plan and was designed to help students articulate their skills to employers.  Marketable skills are those skills valued by employers and/or graduate programs that can be applied in a variety of work or education settings and may include interpersonal, cognitive, and applied skill areas.

The Ph.D. in Digital and Cyber Forensic Science is designed to provide graduates with the following marketable skills:

  • Solve complex cybersecurity-related problems.
  • Apply theoretical principles to the development of digital forensics tools and techniques.
  • Post-secondary teaching capability.
  • Technical communication ability.
  • Strong research-oriented capabilities.