PhD in Information Technology (INFT) with Concentration in Digital Forensics (DFOR)

Overview of PhD INFT DFOR

Catalog information for PhD INFT DFOR

Program information for PhD INFT DFOR

The Information Technology (INFT) PhD is a signature degree of the College of Engineering and Computing. The program focuses on the science, engineering, and technology of information processing, an area of study ripe for innovation in a world driven more and more by data. It accommodates rigorous and cross-disciplinary PhD study that does not fit with PhD program requirements of a single CEC department. The PhD in INFT includes several concentrations to provide program focus.

The Digital Forensics concentration emphasizes preparatory coursework from the school’s digital forensics curriculum and closely related areas. After coursework completion, students work with a dissertation advisor and committee to initiate and execute research in one or more aspects of the digital forensics domain. This research will advance the state of the art, practice, and science in the digital forensics domain, and research results will be published in leading journals and conferences dedicated to this field. Upon completion of their research, students defend their doctoral research to their committees and the public.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 72 graduate credits. Of the 72 total credits required for degree completion, 48 credits must be coursework and 24 credits must be research.

  • Coursework:
    • IT 700 & 701.
    • At least 18 credits of coursework must be 600 level or higher and completed with a grade of B- or better.
    • The overall GPA presented for graduation must be 3.5 or higher.
    • Students who enter the program with a conferred, concentration-relevant Master’s degree:
      • May reduce their specialized coursework requirement by up to 30 credits with approval of their Concentration Director and the College of Engineering and Computing Office of Graduate Studies (CECGS). See Academic Policy 6.5 (Credit by Exam, Reduction or Transfer).
  • Research:
    • Successful completion of 24 research credits inclusive of:
      • IT 990, 1 credit
      • IT 998, 1-11 credits
      • IT 999, a minimum of 12 credits
  • Formal establishment of a Dissertation Director and dissertation committee.
  • Comprehensive exam (oral) after completion of coursework.
  • Development and acceptance of a research proposal.
  • Advancement to Candidacy.
  • Execution of the research, culminating in a written dissertation and public final oral defense successfully defended and approved by the student’s dissertation committee.

Digital Forensics Coursework

Courses are selected from the following list:

DFOR 637          Cloud Forensics

DFOR 673          Registry Forensics – Windows

DFOR 674          Mac Forensics

DFOR 675          Linux Forensics

DFOR 710          Memory Forensics

DFOR 720          Digital Audio Video Forensics

DFOR 730          Forensic Deep Packet Inspection

DFOR 761          Malware Reverse Engineering

DFOR 769          Anti-Forensics

DFOR 772          Forensic Artifact Extraction

DFOR 773          Mobile Application Forensics and Analysis

DFOR 775          Kernel Forensics and Analysis

ECE 611             Advanced Computer Architecture

ECE 612             Real-Time Embedded Systems

ISA 673              Operating Systems Security

ISA 764              Security Experimentation

ISA 785              Research in Digital Forensics

Course descriptions are here:

Digital Forensics (DFOR)

Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE)

Information Security Assurance (ISA)

Other CEC courses with the approval of a faculty advisor/dissertation director.

Faculty Dissertation Advisors

Prior to starting the degree, or while engaged in coursework, the student works with their advisor and faculty to identify and confirm a dissertation director (dissertation committee chair). The student and dissertation director then establish a dissertation committee (3-4 additional GMU graduate faculty for a total committee of 4-5 members). The faculty below are currently engaged in relevant digital forensics research and may be available as dissertation directors. Other CEC faculty may also be engaged in relevant research, and all CEC graduate faculty are eligible to serve as dissertation directors for the PhD INFT program. Students have the option to contact faculty members directly or consult their program academic advisor for guidance on potential advisors. The following professors are available for students to reach out to:

Max Albanese               

Jim Jones                      

Khaled Khasawneh      

Vijay Shah                      

Kun Sun                          

Duminda Wijesekera             

Dissertation Format

PhD INFT students may choose to prepare a dissertation written in the traditional “treatise” form or the “article dissertation” form. The treatise form is one long document which requires distillation of research into academic publications either in parallel with dissertation preparation or subsequent to dissertation completion. The article dissertation form, in contrast, merges creation of academic research publications with creation of the dissertation itself. More information on the article dissertation form is here.