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Department of Defense
Cyber Crime Center

A Federal Cyber Center

National Centers of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE)

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.

Contact CDFAE

CDFAE Designated Schools

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

We are now accepting applications for CDFAE Designation!


  1. Establish an Educational Partnership Agreement (EPA) with DC3 to allow information sharing between parties
  2. Submit a CDFAE application package
  3. Successfully pass a review of your application package and school
  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

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

What are the benefits to my institution?

Education providers will:

  • Have access to advanced digital forensic resources.
  • Have educators that are recognized as being capable of effectively delivering theory and practicum.
  • Provide students with greater access to unique internship or employment opportunities.

How does CDFAE designation impact employers?

Federal employers and/or federal contractors will be able to:

  • Hire employees with a validated skill set capable of being on task on day one.
  • Understand the skills the employees can offer.
  • Diversify geographical hires without compromising quality.

As an employer who may be considering hiring an individual with one or two CDFAE Certificates of Completion, this individual can begin employment on day one with basic to intermediate level abilities. You will not have to send the individual through the required courses at DC3 Cyber Training Academy for him/her to obtain the required certifications.

Your employees can trade in their CDFAE Certificates of Completion for DC3's Cyber Training Academy corresponding certifications.

What is a CDFAE Certificate of 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.