CDFAE Overview

The National Centers of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) is a partnership between  academia, standards bodies, and the US Government to establish best practices for digital forensics education. Education providers are held to digital forensics education standards based upon knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) used in the field. This approach advances the discipline of digital forensics and increases the number of qualified professionals to meet the needs of law enforcement, counterintelligence, national defense, and legal communities.  

CDFAE Designated Schools

CDFAE Designated schools teach a well-rounded digital forensics curriculum based on these knowledge domains:

  • Legal and Ethics
  • Investigative Processes
  • Storage Media
  • Network Forensics
  • Program and Software Forensics
  • Quality Assurance, Control and Management
  • Lab and Forensics Operations
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Apply For CDFAE Designation In 4 Steps

We are now accepting applications for CDFAE Designation!
  1. Submit a CDFAE application package
  2. Successfully pass a review of your application package and school
  3. Establish an Educational Partnership Agreement (EPA) with DC3 to allow information sharing between parties
  4. Complete an articulation agreement with DC3 Cyber Training Academy
CDFAE Designation is valid for three years.

For information on how to become a CDFAE Designated School, send an email to
Current CDFAE Designated Schools
Anne Arundel Community College
Anne Arundel


Baltimore County Community College
Baltimore County Community College


Century College
Century College


Champlain College
Champlain College


Dallas College - Richland Campus
Dallas College - Richland Campus


Davenport University
Davenport University


Daytona State College
Daytona State College


Ferris State University


Georgia Southern University - Armstrong Campus
Georgia Southern University - Armstrong Campus


Howard Community College


Longwood University
Longwood University


Middle Georgia State University
Middle Georgia State University


Norwich University


Stevenson University


University of Maryland Global Campus
University of Maryland Global Campus


Utica University


CDFAE Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions

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Does my institution qualify for CDFAE designation?

The CDFAE program offers designations to accredited, non-profit, academic programs that confer a digital forensics-related degree. To receive CDFAE designation, an institution's accredited academic program must map courses against a common core curriculum.


Why should my institution pursue CDFAE designation?

The United States is in a cybersecurity workforce deficit. More than ever, organizations need to plan for the future as significant shifts in cyber operations accelerate globally. Digital forensics skill sets provide crosscutting application to multiple fields. In its strictest connotation, digital forensics is the application of computer science and investigative procedures involving the examination of digital evidence, including proper search authority, chain of custody, validation with mathematics, use of validated tools, repeatability, reporting, and expert testimony. Beyond traditional legal purposes, the same techniques, scientific rigor, and procedural precision now support the range of military operations and course of action (examples: computer network operations and counterintelligence objectives).

CDFAE serves as a prime avenue for cultivating leaders to meet evolving objectives across the digital forensics and cyber communities, as it is vital to protect, investigate, and serve public, private, and national goals.


What are the benefits to the students?

Military Students: Earn college credits for completed DC3 Cyber Training Academy courses

Civilian Students: Earn DoD certifications after graduation and hired within DoD and Federal government

Students who complete the program will:

  • Have a DoD-recognized skill set and awareness of current issues facing digital forensics investigators and examiners.
  • Be valued for their highly desirable and unique skill sets.
  • Be capable of using current techniques, skills, and tools necessary for digital forensic examination of digital media, files, operating systems, devices, networks, and applications for discovery and recovery of evidence.
  • Have the aptitude to design, implement, and evaluate a system, process, component, or program to meet digital forensic needs.
  • Appreciate professional, ethical, legal, security, social, and continuing education and development responsibilities.
CDFAE - Cert Completion

After a college or university completes the rigorous application process and becomes a CDFAE Designated School, their courses are aligned to DC3 Cyber Training Academy courses that offer DoD certifications. Upon successful graduation from a CDFAE designated school, students will receive a certificate of completion. This certificate can be exchanged for its corresponding DoD certification when the student is employed with a federal employer or federal contractor.

If more than six months have passed since graduation, certain other requirements must be met to participate in the Trade-in Program.

  • After six months, the person must provide verification of 40 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credit in the cyber field.
  • After 12 months, the person must provide verification of 40 hours of CPE credit in the cyber field, plus a proficiency exam.
  • After 24 months, an individual must attend the required training courses at DC3 Cyber Training Academy to obtain the Cyber Incident Responder and/or Digital Forensic Examiner certifications.