Forensic accountants investigate claims of theft and fraud. They follow the money trail in divorce proceedings. They work to recover money for their clients.
The ideal forensic accountant tends to react with suspicion. He or she analyzes possible cases of embezzlement, money laundering, and insurance fraud. This person testifies under oath as a subject matter expert. They understand both accounting and business law.
What kind of Forensic Accounting Degree should I get?
Expect to write reports, pore over financial statements, and prepare for future litigation.
Forensic accountants took down Al Capone. Forensic accountants spent 14 years hunting $1 billion embezzled by publisher Robert Maxwell in the 1980s. When the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman sued O.J. Simpson, Mr. Simpson claimed poverty. Forensic accountants uncovered millions of hidden dollars. The families received $33 million.
Enroll for a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting to begin this career. Look for programs with at least a minor or concentration in Forensic Accounting. Some offer alternative emphases like Fraud Investigation or Internal Auditing. Consider pursuing a Master’s degree in the future.
If you’re considering other online programs, take a look at College Choice’s ranking of the Top Online Universities.
How much money do Forensic Accountants make?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 10 percent increase in jobs for all accountants. An accountant who adapts to emerging technology has an advantage. A recognized certification such as the CPA, CIA, or CFE boosts hirability.
Financial accounting specialists report a median annual wage of $68,780. The full span ranges from $42,140 to $120,910. Anticipate 40 or more hours of work each week. The longest hours come at the end of the fiscal year and leading up to Tax Day on April 15.
What are the requirements for obtaining a Forensic Accounting Degree?
Forensic accountants need nationally recognized certification. Options include the designations Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). The American Board of Forensic Accounting grants the Certified Forensic Accountant (CRFAC) designation.
CRFACs need a clean criminal record and two years of work experience. They maintain a CPA license in good standing. CRFACs pursue continuing education, workshops, and other professional development.
What Are the Best Online Schools for Forensic Accounting?
Finding schools that offer forensic accounting requires legwork. Some use alternative names for their degrees. Most schools grant a degree in Accounting with a concentration, specialization, emphasis, or minor in Forensic Accounting.
We utilized Internet research combined with college and university website information. We owe our understanding of the field to the Forensic CPA Society and the American Board of Forensic Accounting.
Statistics come from U.S. News, the IPEDS database from College Navigator, and The Princeton Review. Final rankings include the average net price of tuition after financial aid.
Below are the top seven Forensic Accounting programs in the United States.
See our rankings methodology page.
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $26,240
Independence University (IU) operates as a non-profit online program. Students take classes within their focus area without the requirement of choosing electives. An online degree in Accounting concludes after completing at least 181 credits.
Independence University awards a B.S. in Accounting with an emphasis in Forensic Accounting. Students take courses 100 percent online over 36 months.
Courses in Forensic Accounting:
- Fraud Examination
- Accounting Research and Analysis
- Corporate Governance and Internal Control Assessment
Personal service includes live tutoring and labs for improving skills in writing and mathematics. All undergraduates receive career assistance. Admitted students get a tablet on day one and a laptop when they begin taking courses in their major.
University of Alabama Birmingham
College Choice Score: 96.25
Average Net Price: $16,092
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) embraces online education. Enrollments have surged to record highs. Classes are taught by the same faculty as on-campus courses. The online business degrees from UAB are available to students in all 50 states.
The online B.S. in Accounting – Forensic Accounting requires a four-year commitment. The faculty are experts in the field of accounting. The curriculum prepares graduates for designations, including Certified Public Accountant, Internal Auditor, and Fraud Examiner.
Online classes in Accounting for Spring 2018:
- Internal Auditing
- Governmental and Not-for-Profit Accounting
- Accounting Information Systems
The B.S. in Accounting received U.S. News’ “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs” in 2017. The Princeton Review places Collat in its “Best Business Schools” category. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accredits UAB’s online program.
University of Northwestern Ohio
College Choice Score: 91.93
Average Net Price: $15,396
The University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) takes pride in its small class sizes of 20 to 25. Students enroll from 40 states and nearly 50 countries. Many students supplement campus classes with online coursework. Others finish their degree entirely online.
UNOH students in undergraduate Accounting can choose to specialize in Forensic Accounting. This Bachelor’s degree program lasts four years. Graduates have the knowledge to pass the Certified Fraud Examiner certification.
Courses toward the B.S. in Accounting – Forensic Accounting:
- Introduction to Digital Forensics
- Legal Implications of Fraud Examination
The University of Northwestern Ohio allows transfers of credits from associate’s degrees. Students who wish to enroll online need a 3.0 GPA. Maryland has not authorized enrollment for its residents.
Southern New Hampshire University
College Choice Score: 91.93
Average Net Price: $34,984
Southern New Hampshire University, or SNHU, operates as a private nonprofit. The school receives accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. U.S. News ranks Southern New Hampshire first in its “2018 Most Innovative Schools.”
SNHU’s online B.S. in Accounting with a concentration in Forensic Accounting makes it easy to enter the fields of accounting and financial crime investigation. Learning outcomes include accounting techniques, analysis, and presentation skills.
Courses in Forensic Accounting at SNHU:
- Detection/Prevention of Fraudulent Financial Statements
- Business Law
- Investigating with Computers
Transfer students may apply a maximum of 90 credits toward the B.S. in Accounting. The degree requires 120 total credit hours. There is no application fee at SNHU.
College Choice Score: 89.91
Average Net Price: $24,153
Utica College offers a unique online degree focused on fraud, money laundering, embezzlement, and identity crimes. The program teaches the techniques of forensic accounting to detect and reduce crime. Utica created the curriculum with the Economic Crime and Cybersecurity Institute.
Students at Utica College may opt for the online B.S. in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation with a concentration in Financial Investigation. The degree requires 126 credit hours. Classes conclude in 3 years and 4 months.
Courses in Financial Investigation:
- Advanced Issues in Economic Crime
- Forensic Accounting and Fraud Auditing
- Modern Techniques in Crime Investigation
Utica expects candidates to hold an Associate’s degree. Students take 18 credit hours in Financial Investigation. Career options include Tax Crime Investigator, Forensic Accountant, and Bank Examiner.
California College San Diego
College Choice Score: 88.76
Average Net Price: $24,770
When Franklin decided to offer Forensic Accounting, they brought in subject matter experts. A curriculum design team worked hard to create a solid program. Students have the advantage of hands-on learning through team building, interactive videos, and real-world simulations.
The B.S. in Forensic Accounting prepares students for three relevant professional certifications: the Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and Certified Internal Auditor. Students master the Visio software program and design accounting systems.
Concepts taught in Forensic Accounting at Franklin:
- Fraud Examination
- Electronic Discovery
- Fraud Reporting and Litigation
Franklin employs industry experts to share their experiences in real-world forensic accounting. Online students receive the same high quality education as on-campus students. The faculty surveys students and adjusts their offerings according to the results.
Indiana State University
College Choice Score: 87.90
Average Net Price: $10,681
Indiana State University (ISU) offers more than 60 online degree programs. An impressive 36 percent of undergraduates enroll fully or partially online. The Accounting major at ISU can be finished 100 percent online.
The online B.S. in Accounting includes an optional minor in Forensic Accounting. Students need 18 hours of credit in Forensic Accounting coursework to earn the minor.
Courses in the Forensic Accounting minor at Indiana State University:
- Fraud Examination
- Occupational Fraud
- Criminal Investigation
Program eligibility varies by state, as do the total credit hours needed to take the CPA exam. Potential students should verify their state’s requirements before enrolling. Graduates with a B.S. in Accounting and a minor in Forensic Accounting uncover or deter criminal activity.