Best Online Forensic Accounting Programs
Share this Article
As of January 2022, the average forensic accountant made about $70,490 per year, according to Payscale. These professionals investigate accounts for discrepancies and evidence of fraud. They may testify in trials or proceedings and lend their expertise to cases involving finance or banking activities. Forensic accountants can also work in civil matters, such as divorce proceedings.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 7% job growth for accountants and auditors between 2020 and 2030. This rate is comparable to the average projected growth rate for all occupations during that period. Prospective forensic accountants need a bachelor's degree in the field, which usually takes four years of full-time study to complete. Most online bachelor's in forensic accounting programs require around 120 credits.
BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Ready to Start Your Journey?
Students can complete the degree they need at a top online school to start working in forensic accounting. Read on to learn about program requirements and how to land the best job in the field.
What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Program?
Students begin their journey by taking foundational courses in key areas. Common finance and accounting courses include intermediate accounting, business law, federal taxation, and auditing principles.
Some programs offer specific concentrations in forensic accounting. Courses in this concentration may include auditing and forensic accounting, fraud detection and prevention, interview techniques and legal aspects of fraud, and investigating with computers.
Even if students can't specifically major in forensic accounting, a degree in accounting can start them on the path. For example, a bachelor's degree in finance or accounting is typically a prerequisite to a master's degree in forensic accounting.
Job-seekers who want to work as fraud examiners must become certified. The official certified fraud examiner test from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) remains the gold standard in the field. To sit for the examination, candidates need the following qualifications:
- Associate membership in the ACFE
- A bachelor's degree in any field or two years of accounting-specific work experience
- Two years of fraud-related work activity (in addition to the previous requirement of two years) in one of the following areas:
- Accounting and auditing
- Criminology and sociology
- Fraud investigation
- Loss prevention
Since many employers require a bachelor's degree of some kind to begin work, a four-year degree in accounting often provides the best path toward meeting these requirements.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.
Popular Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Program?
In this course, students move beyond basic accounting to study more complex accounting principles. Students apply theoretical frameworks to a variety of tax situations. Learners also dive more deeply into regulations.
Learners explore the ethical standards and assurance procedures needed to complete audits efficiently and thoroughly. Students design audit processes, practice communication strategies, and implement testing methods with case studies.
Auditing and Fraud Examination
Students learn the auditing process from a fraud prevention and detection standpoint. They explore various types of fraud and apply standard analytical procedures to detect different kinds of fraud.
This course prepares students to conduct interviews during civil proceedings or legal investigations. Degree-seekers learn different interview techniques and explore various legal aspects of forensic investigations.
Investigating With Computers/Cybercrime
Prospective forensic accountants must understand the technology that makes fraud possible. This course provides training related to computer and network systems, online fraud methods, and common crimes like identity theft.
What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Program?
Online programs may maintain slightly different admission requirements from their on-campus counterparts — especially professional programs. Online degrees targeting working adults may waive high school transcript requirements or standardized test scores. They may also require a certain amount of professional experience.
The application itself asks students to submit personal information. Most programs offer applications through an online portal, making it easier to complete and submit all of the required sections.
Some applications require scores from standardized tests like the ACT or SAT. However, programs sometimes waive these requirements for students with work experience. Applicants should check program requirements for score thresholds and to learn about test waivers.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation provide the school with a general impression of each applicant's character and academic ability. Online applications often include a unique link for a recommender to complete the form online instead of mailing an official letter.
College essays offer a deeper look into a student's life experiences and college readiness. They also provide a writing sample. These essays are typically 1-3 pages long, and most programs provide essay topics.
Transcripts provide schools with records of each applicant's past academic achievements. Programs often require high school and/or previous college transcripts, which help schools determine how many transfer credits they should award.
What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Degree?
Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 7% job growth for accountants and auditors. This would translate to roughly 96,000 new positions in the field. Overall, as of May 2020, accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $73,560.
Students who pursue advanced degrees can qualify for leadership positions. However, a bachelor's degree provides a path to most entry-level forensic accounting jobs, as long as job-seekers pass the certified fraud examiner test.
See where a bachelor's in forensic accounting can take you. Learn more about forensic accounting programs.
Financial examiners can work in fraud detection, making more than $80,000 per year with only a bachelor's degree. They ensure individuals, companies, and organizations follow relevant financial regulations. Some professionals work for government entities or financial firms, while others work as consultants.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $81,430
Certified Public Accountant
CPAs manage financial records for individuals, companies, and organizations. They provide financial forecasting and reports and manage day-to-day cash flow for their client or employer. CPAs must pass a certification exam and accrue postbaccalaureate training to earn this distinction.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $73,560
Forensic accountants work specifically with civil or criminal proceedings, uncovering discrepancies in financial records. Current accountants or bachelor's degree-holders can complete a certification exam to break into this field.
Average Annual Salary (January 2022): $70,490
Financial analysts help businesses and individuals make sound financial decisions and increase profits. They analyze financial records and other business data to ensure sound financial decisions.
Median Annual Salary: $83,660
Tax Examiners and Auditors
Tax examiners work with state and federal governments to ensure compliance with tax law. They work with individuals and organizations to settle tax debt, analyze financial statements for fraud, and determine tax debt burdens.
Median Annual Salary: $55,640
Forensic Accounting Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Forensic accounting students typically earn a certification in fraud examination, but that's not all. Advanced degrees in forensic accounting can open doors to more lucrative positions within the government, private businesses, and consulting.
A master's degree in forensic accounting provides students with the opportunity to further specialize in the field. Students might focus on artificial intelligence or cryptocurrency. They might advance their knowledge of cybercrime and understand how big data can uncover challenging-to-prove fraud activities. They might also work with law enforcement to find money hidden on the deep web or disguised in money laundering accounts.
How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Program?
Online programs sometimes waive out-of-state fees for distance learners. These programs may also reduce the cost of books or waive typical on-campus student fees. Even if online learners can't access in-state tuition rates, online tuition may still be less than on-campus rates.
Online programs typically offer two delivery methods. Asynchronous programs maintain general deadlines but allow students to complete coursework mainly on their own schedule. In contrast, synchronous programs hold classes at specific times. Both types have advantages, such as increased flexibility or more teacher interaction, so students should consider their unique circumstances. Online programs may also offer full-time, part-time, and accelerated enrollment options.
Online programs make it easier for students to choose the right degree, regardless of location. However, attending an online school close to a student's home may allow that student to take greater advantage of internship opportunities, student services, and the local network.
School accreditation is an integral part of choosing a program. Employers may only acknowledge degrees awarded by accredited programs. Accreditation certifies that the forensic accounting program and/or school meets specific academic benchmarks.
Even online students can access support through student services. Some schools may oversee dedicated online student services departments, but those that don't can still provide internship direction, mentor guidance, and writing support.
Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Programs
Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.
Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Programs
Is a bachelor's in forensic accounting worth it?
Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects the accounting field to grow at an average rate, providing many opportunities for job-seekers. Plus, a bachelor's degree fulfills the requirements for most positions.
Bachelor's degrees can also offer the most efficient path for those who want to break into forensic accounting. Students who can't enroll in a forensic accounting program can still major in general accounting and complete a forensic certification.
What can I do with a bachelor's in forensic accounting?
A bachelor's degree lays the foundation for certification in the field and can lead to various entry-level careers. Bachelor's degree-holders can pursue work as accountants or become fraud investigators or examiners. They can also work in law enforcement or for law offices.
Are forensic accounting majors in demand?
Yes. While the BLS projects average growth for accountants between 2020 and 2030, the agency projects 33% job growth for information security analysts. Forensic accountants working for financial institutions can lend their cybersecurity-related expertise to financial institutions and other organizations.
How much money can I make with a bachelor's in forensic accounting?
According to the BLS, accountants earned a median annual salary of $73,560 as of May 2020. The top 10% of earners in the field made over $128,680 annually, while the lowest 10% earned less than $45,220. Keep in mind that salary potential depends on various factors, including location, experience, and professional certifications.
What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a bachelor's in forensic accounting?
One of the highest-paying positions for bachelor's degree-holders in forensic accounting is financial analyst. According to the BLS, as of May 2020, these professionals earned a median annual wage of $83,660.
Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree
Feature Image: krisanapong detraphiphat / Moment / Getty Images