Master of Science in Cybercrime and Digital Investigation: Curriculum

Develop Specialized Digital Investigation and Digital Forensics Skills

In this 10-course, 30-credit-hour program, you’ll work with expert faculty to understand foundational concepts in cybercriminology with a social science focus. You can graduate in two years, ready to identify cyber threats, identify appropriate legal policies and communicate these concerns to diverse audiences. 

Course abstracts are meant to provide a high-level course overview and are subject to change based on term, faculty and/or institutional requirements. View the official course descriptions as written in the Michigan State University Academic Catalog and in adherence to institutional accreditation standards.



CJ 822 Comparative Criminal Justice

Achieve a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system in the United States by exploring how similar systems operate in other countries. Through this comparative lens, you’ll examine common law, civil law, socialist law and Islamic law, then focus on the nature of policing, courts and corrections around the world.

CJ 872 Open-Source Information Analysis

Apply modern intelligence techniques to collect and analyze open-source information. You’ll complete this course with an ability to validate data sources, as well as knowledge of the history of open-source data collection and an understanding of the ethical issues surrounding collecting data from public sources.

CJ 875 Digital Forensic Investigations

Focus on the field of digital forensics and its use to gather evidence and interpret information for criminal and civil litigation, as well as its use for intelligence gathering, research, policy enforcement and information security incident response. Specific topics will include legal aspects governing search and seizure, qualifying as an expert witness, the role of file systems and operating systems and basic tools for computer and mobile device acquisition, analysis and reporting.

CJ 876 Data Systems/Infrastructure

Examine the networked resources that support the internet and the basics of the OSI model, or Open Systems Interconnection Model. Detail the protocols used to structure and route packets across a layered network like the internet. Consider the role of each layer and the role of the application layer in engendering applications. Study the development of mobile phones, cloud-based storage and IoT devices and their potential impact on the internet and networked devices generally. Discuss the inherent flaws and vulnerabilities produced by the OSI model and the internet.

CJ 878 Economic Cybercrimes and Fraud

Overview of the role of technology and the internet in all manner of financial crimes, plus how the rise of online payment systems, e-commerce and social media have created an ecosystem that allows for the rapid flow of payments between actors with minimal oversight. Highlight the evolution of cyber offenses from insider-driven fraud in the 1980s to more simplistic forms of interpersonal fraud in the 1990s to the more modern landscape of myriad forms of theft targeting businesses, government and individuals. Examine the laws available to combat these offenses both in the U.S. and internationally, as well as the role of industry in regulating financial transactions.

CJ 879 Interpersonal Cybercrime

Examine the problem of cybercrimes with a focus on the use of technology in order to cause physical or emotional harm to another person or group in society. Explore the complex nature of this offense type and its relationship to traditional crimes in the real world, along with considerations of the policy implications and strategies needed to combat these problems from both a social science and Information System perspective. Discuss the rise of computer and cybercrime, as well as the difficulties in measuring and combating these offenses. Examine different offense types, including sexual offenses, child sexual exploitation, harassment, stalking and hate crimes. Address the development of security technologies used to defend against these attacks, as well as the laws used to investigate and prosecute these behaviors.

CJ 823 Globalization of Crime

Explore comparative criminology and its relevance in the context of the global world. Examining issues like human trafficking, firearm violence and money laundering, you’ll assess the challenges of applying criminology to understand crime, victimization and crime control in the global context.


CJ 874 Cybercrime, Deviance and Virtual Society

Explain the four forms of cybercrime, cyber-terror, cyberwarfare and their impacts on individuals, organizations and government. Explain the legal frameworks used to prosecute cybercrimes at the state and federal level in the U.S., as well as comparative legal models used to criminalize these behaviors in other nations. Understand the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies responsible for policing cybercrime, as well as the role of private industry in affecting these offenses. Collect, query, manage and analyze data using applicable tools and techniques. Summarize and communicate information about cybercrime and cybersecurity threats to diverse audiences.

CJ 801 Crime Causation, Prevention and Control

Experience an in-depth review of theoretical perspectives on crime and examine the link between these theories and crime prevention and control in the United States. You’ll gain a mastery of the major criminological theories and learn to apply them to criminal justice policy and real-life scenarios.

CJ 877 Cyber Terror and Cyber Warfare

Examine the use of technology and the internet in the furtherance of terror and extremism across the globe. Understand the complex nature of this crime type, its links to physical offenses and its significance across a variety of disciplines including the social sciences and Information Systems. Discuss difficulties defining terrorism, its links to cybercrime and difficulties in measuring and combating these offenses. Talk about the use of cyberattacks by nation-states and the difficulties disentangling attacks by extremist groups, military groups and unaffiliated ideological actors. Examine different methods applied by terrorist groups, such as computer hacking, fraud and social media messaging campaigns. Address the development of security technologies used to defend against these attacks, as well as the laws used to investigate and prosecute these behaviors.

CJ 811 Design and Analysis in Criminal Justice Research

Acquire advanced knowledge of social science research methods and apply these skills to criminal justice research. You’ll explore various methodologies, design elements for data collection and sampling, and ethical issues involved in the research process. You’ll also be introduced to the basics of statistical analysis and learn to make evidence-based decisions about criminal justice policy and issues.

CJ 881 Legislative and Policy Responses to Cybercrime

Examine the ways that the legal system in the U.S. and other nations have adapted in response to the threat of cybercrime and cyberwarfare. Consider the federal statutory, common and international laws involved, as well as the state laws that affect cyber criminality. Discuss the role of internet service providers and tech companies as both a target of and executor of regulatory powers over others. Understand the ways that laws have been created at both the state and federal level to combat cybercrimes, as well as the inherent challenges of developing legislation that may be flexible enough to be applied to the misuse of technologies that may not yet exist. Consider the growth of regulations around the use of social media and user-generated content and the ways that nations differ in their willingness to pursue action against certain forms of behavior online. Discuss cases that demonstrate both successes and failures in regulating online behaviors around the world.

CJ 882 Analysis of Contemporary Cyberthreats (Capstone)

Learn to integrate and apply the skills and knowledge gained throughout the degree program to contemporary cybersecurity affecting individuals, industry and governments around the world. Focus on the activities of individuals, groups, organized crime, terrorists and nation-states alike. Focus on emergent forms of criminality, whether it is economically motivated or otherwise, as well as terror and warfare operations against nation-states, and assess novel strategies to mitigate these threats from both industry and law enforcement. Apply skills through the development of a research brief or examination of a cybersecurity threat to identify potential points of intervention through formal and informal means. 

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