Best Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting Programs
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Accountants can find employment opportunities in many industries. Completing a master's in forensic accounting prepares learners to capitalize on those opportunities. According to a study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, certified fraud examiners earn 31% more than other accountants.
In general, the accounting field looks promising for new graduates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data projects 4% job growth for accountants and auditors between 2019 and 2029, and reports that these professionals earned a median annual salary of $71,550 in 2019.
This guide covers admission requirements for master's in forensic accounting programs, common courses found in these programs, and career paths for forensic accounting graduates.
For additional information, check out our master's in forensic accounting program guide.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Forensic Accounting Programs? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|#1||West Virginia University Morgantown, WV|
|#2||Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL|
|#3||Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA|
|#4||Carlow University Pittsburgh, PA|
|#5||Liberty University Lynchburg, VA|
|#6||Utica College Utica, NY|
|#7||Stevenson University Stevenson, MD|
|#8||Pfeiffer University Misenheimer, NC|
|#9||Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH|
|#10||New England College Henniker, NH|
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Best Accredited Online Master's in Forensic Accounting Programs
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What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Forensic Accounting Program?
Most schools award a master of accountancy (MAcc) degree, with forensic accounting offered as a concentration.
Master's programs in accounting build on students' already established foundation in legal and financial topics relevant to accounting, delving into more advanced topics than in an associate or bachelor's program. To succeed, learners need strong communication, analytical, organizational, and mathematical skills. Most programs require 30-45 credits, and students can graduate in 18-24 months.
Most schools award a master of accountancy (MAcc) degree, with forensic accounting offered as a concentration. In programs without concentrations available, aspiring forensic accountants can load up on related courses and choose an internship or research focus with a forensic accounting angle.
Some schools offer additional tracks depending on a student's experience and career goals. Professional tracks, for example, can help experienced professionals with a bachelor's degree in accounting advance their career. Another track may serve students with no previous accounting training who want a career change.
Prospective students should consider whether programs will prepare them for professional certifications. Many master's in forensic accounting programs prepare graduates to take the certified public accountant (CPA) examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Learners with a specific certification in mind should ensure their program helps them meet requirements.
Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Forensic Accounting Programs
Most online master's in forensic accounting programs require a bachelor's degree for admission. Some competitive programs may require an accounting degree, a minimum undergraduate GPA, and GMAT or GRE scores that meet a certain threshold.
Applicants usually submit professional recommendations, and some programs also require statements of purpose and interviews. Professional programs may also require applicants to possess a certain level of professional experience.
Find more information in the Graduate Admissions Guide.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Forensic Accounting Program?
Courses offered in an online master's in forensic accounting differ by school, but most programs cover the same core topics. The following list highlights five of the more popular courses at the master's level.
Fraud prevention courses examine the leading types of fraud and the motivations behind them. Students learn how to identify and investigate fraud. Degree-seekers also learn how to evaluate an organization's accounting system to detect vulnerabilities, and how to put preventative measures in place to thwart future fraud attempts.
Legal and Ethical Processes
In this course, students learn how to comply with ethical and legal guidelines while conducting a fraud investigation. Learners explore the various avenues for reporting crimes, and how to identify and collect evidence properly.
Forensic investigation courses cover how to investigate fraud and recover lost or stolen assets. Students learn how to develop an investigative plan, prepare necessary evidence, and use various investigative techniques. Learners also look at methods for tracing and recovering assets before they are lost entirely.
Cybercrime and Cybersecurity
In this course, learners explore the various types of cybercrime and study the best ways to prevent cybercrime from occuring. Students explore the motivations of cybercriminals and the leading technologies used to defend against attacks and detect security vulnerabilities.
In loss quantification courses, students learn how to accurately assess the damage or financial loss caused by fraud. Coursework may also delve into recovery processes and how professionals identify recovery potential. Learners also look at required documentation and evidence for investigative and insurance purposes.
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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Forensic Accounting Degree?
The accounting field closely follows the ebbs and flows of the economy. The BLS projects 4% job growth for accountants between 2019 and 2029, equalling the average growth rate across all occupations. However, earning a master's in forensic accounting often makes graduates more competitive in the job market.
While many basic accounting duties have been automated, professionals who provide analytical services, including forensic accountants, should not see their jobs impacted nearly as much by this change.
See where a master's in forensic accounting can take you. Learn more about accounting careers.
Accountant and Auditor
Accountants handle financial documents for organizations, checking for accuracy, efficiency, and compliance. These professionals also analyze data to identify financial risks and opportunities.
Financial managers oversee the finances of organizations, helping them make decisions on investments, performing financial health analyses, and evaluating financial data to spot potential issues. These professionals may also manage insurance, credit, and budget activities.
Budget analysts help organizations improve their financial health by assessing expenses and suggesting more effective alternatives. Analysts need a solid understanding of financial regulations, along with strong communication and business skills.
Management analysts assess organizational performances and develop improvement strategies. They may evaluate financial data, operational processes, employee performance, and organizational culture.
Financial analysts help people and organizations make better financial decisions. These professionals work with investments, look for weaknesses in financial portfolios, and analyze the market for new opportunities.
Forensic Accounting Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Forensic Accounting Programs
Is a master's in forensic accounting worth it?
Yes. After finishing a master's in forensic accounting, graduates can access promising careers in the business and financial world. In addition to qualifying for some of the best accounting careers, they can obtain management and consulting roles that possess strong projected growth rates and high median annual salaries.
What can I do with a master's in forensic accounting?
Accounting professionals with a master's in forensic accounting can pursue traditional accounting positions, as well as related business and leadership roles. Graduates may also earn industry certifications and continue their studies in a doctoral program.
Can you become a forensic accountant without a degree?
While it may be possible to obtain a forensic accountant position without a degree, it is not very likely. According to the BLS, most accountants need at least a bachelor's degree. Accountants who wish to earn the CPA credential need to complete a minimum of 150 credits, or more than a traditional bachelor's degree.
How much money can I make with a master's in forensic accounting?
Salary potential depends on employer, experience, and location. According to the BLS, accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $71,550 in 2019, but the top 10% of earners made over $124,450.
What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in forensic accounting?
The highest paying job for master's in forensic accounting graduates is financial manager. According to the BLS, financial managers earned a median annual salary of $129,890 in 2019, and the top 10% of these professionals made over $208,000.
How much does a master's in forensic accounting cost?
To determine forensic accounting master's degree costs, learners must speak to the admissions or the financial aid departments of each school. The admissions department gives general tuition rates, but the financial aid office provides detailed information regarding university fees, aid packages, and payment plans. The payment plan depends on the school's tuition schedule. Schools can charge students a flat rate per semester, a flat rate per credit range, or a per-credit rate. When students pay a flat rate per semester, they pay a standard rate no matter how many courses they take.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Forensic Accounting Prepares For
Certified in Financial Forensics
The American Institute of CPAs awards this credential. To get the certification, applicants must hold a valid CPA license or certificate from a state authority. Applicants also need 1,000 hours of experience working in forensic accounting and 75 hours of continuing professional development in forensic accounting.
Certified Internal Auditor
To take the exam, applicants must enroll in the CIA program. Once enrolled, test takers submit documents like the Character Reference Form to the board. After the board approves their application and documents, the Institute of Internal Auditors sends an email allowing the applicant to register for testing.
Certified Fraud Examiner
Issued by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), this credential tests a forensic accountant's knowledge of the proper data analysis techniques needed to identify fraud. To apply for the exam, applicants must join the ACFE, submit supporting documentation, and pay the examination fee.
Resources for Graduate Forensic Accounting Students
National Association of State Boards of Accountancy
NASBA assists over 50 state accounting boards. They help boards identify and fix issues within the accounting community regarding regulation, ethics, and test standardization.
Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Boards
This federal advisory committee releases the federal accounting standards for financial reporting. They publish the FASAB Handbook of Accounting Standards and Other Pronouncements annually.
Code of Federal Regulations
The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) distributes government publications and materials to the general public. The code of federal regulations gets updated each year, and users can find each version on the GPO website.
The Yellow Book
Auditors use the Yellow Book to conduct audits, review financial statements, and arrange attestation engagements. Officials revise the book annually, archiving previous versions on the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) website.
Financial Audit Manual
The GAO publishes the financial audit manual in three volumes. The first volume addresses methodology, the second focuses on implementation guidance, and the third consists of checklists. Users can download the volumes from the GAO website.
Professional Organizations in Forensic Accounting
Joining a professional organization enhances the student's overall educational experience. Professional organizations focus on education, leadership building, and networking. Students can find mentors through groups and explore curated job boards and other career services. Organizations constantly update their training materials to reflect changes in financial policy. By joining a professional association, students gain direct access to insider publications and events.
American Institute of CPAs
The AICPA is one of the oldest professional organizations for accountants. The institute creates and reforms auditing standards for CPAs in addition to providing continuing education materials. AICPA also administers the CPA exam.
The Institute of Internal Auditors
The IIA strives to represent the interests of professionals working as auditors, in risk management, governance, and with information technology auditing. IIA serves over 100,000 members globally.
Association of Government Accountants
The association supports professionals working in government financial management. AGACGFM provides training events, specialty publications, and professional certifications. They follow a code of ethics that addresses both behavior and professional conduct.
American Accounting Association
The AAA educates members using publications and innovative research findings. Members can read about their findings in the AAA Research Relevance Task Force Report.
Association for Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business
Established in 1919, this association boasts over 300 chapters in 140 countries. The association hosts both student and professional chapters with annual networking events and conferences.