The field of forensic accounting contains many exciting and demanding professional careers. Today, many students choose to earn their bachelor's degree in forensic accounting online rather than in a traditional classroom setting because the flexible online format allows distance learners to balance schoolwork with professional and familial commitments.
What are the best forensic accounting programs of 2020? Here are our top 5:
|1||Champlain College||Burlington, VT|
|2||University of Northwestern Ohio||Lima, OH|
|3||Utica College||Utica, NY|
|4||Southern New Hampshire University||Manchester, NH|
|5||Franklin University||Columbus, OH|
Undergraduate online accounting programs cover a broad range of topics, including investigation, examination, and prevention of fraud and economic crimes. Students obtain specialized forensic accounting and critical business knowledge, as well as leadership, interpersonal, communication, and critical-thinking skills. Graduates are prepared to sit for professional exams and can become fraud examiners, public accountants, and internal auditors.
A healthier economy typically means a greater number of jobs for accountants and auditors. As a result, the field of forensic accounting is currently in demand and is continuing to grow; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors can expect 11% job growth over the next seven years.
The text below describes what you can expect from an online forensic accounting program and the kinds of career opportunities you can pursue after you earn your degree.
Choosing a Program
Earning an online degree in forensic accounting equips learners with a broad understanding of accounting principles and specialized forensic accounting knowledge. Forensic accounting programs focus on the investigation of complex financial transactions, statements, reports, audits, and records. They also cover all aspects of fraud forensics, from detection to prevention. Graduates gain leadership, interpersonal, communication, analytical, and critical-thinking skills. Certain programs offer hands-on curricula that feature simulated investigations, enabling students to gain practical experience with industry-standard software.
Some schools offer forensic accounting students two specializations: financial investigation or fraud prevention. Financial investigation focuses on the search for and documentation of misconduct and financial crimes. Alternatively, fraud prevention concentrates on looking for potential vulnerabilities in order to stop economic crime before it happens.
Students who earn a bachelor's degree in forensic accounting online complete a variety of classes, many of which are closely related with criminal justice coursework. Students take classes in legal elements of fraud, investigating with computers, interview techniques, federal taxation, and auditing.
What Are The Best Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Programs?
|Burlington, VT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 64%||
Champlain is a small, private college based in Burlington, Vermont, with two international locations in Montreal and Dublin. Champlain takes a career-driven approach to higher education, focusing on the development of professional skills, keen reasoning abilities, and life management skills. More than 60 of its innovative programs are available online.
Students pursuing an online bachelor's in accounting can select from four concentrations, including forensic accounting. The 120-credit curriculum includes courses in auditing, principles of finance, business law, and fraud examination. Champlain's asynchronous delivery format allows students to access coursework 24/7, with part-time and full-time enrollment options available.
A minimum 2.5 GPA is recommended for admission. Applicants must provide official transcripts, a professional resume, and short answer essay responses.
University of Northwestern Ohio
|Lima, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
The University of Northwestern Ohio is a private, nonprofit institution best known for its leadership in the automotive and diesel industries. Approximately 4,000 students attend each year, pursuing degrees in business, health, technology, and professional studies.
UNOH offers all of its accounting classes in an online format and many of its other courses in the evening, making it easy for busy students to complete their bachelor's in forensic accounting. Required courses include criminal law for non-legal majors, introduction to digital forensics, and accounting information systems.
The 180-credit, four-year program prepares graduates to sit for the Certified Fraud Examiners Exam. Admission requires high school transcripts and placement testing. New students must attend an on-campus orientation.
|Utica, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
UC is an independent, private institution located in central New York with an annual enrollment of over 5,000 students. Among its more than 20 online offerings is a bachelor's in fraud and financial crime investigation, one of the only programs of its kind nationwide.
The 120-credit curriculum requires courses in crime theory and investigation, financial accounting, and information privacy. Students can focus their degree by selecting a concentration in financial investigation or fraud prevention and detection. Graduates find work as financial examiners, fraud investigators, and forensic accountants.
Applicants must demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA on high school transcripts and a minimum 2.5 GPA for any transferable college coursework.
Southern New Hampshire University
|Manchester, NH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with annual enrollment numbers exceeding 90,000. The vast majority of SNHU students take classes online. More than 200 certificates and degrees are available in this flexible format, including an online bachelor's degree in forensic accounting.
The 120-credit curriculum combines general education, business core courses, and accounting courses with a concentration in forensic accounting and fraud examination. Four concentration courses provide training in fraud investigation, detection, and prevention techniques. Students can complete SNHU's accounting degree entirely online with the convenience of asynchronous course delivery.
Applicants must provide a transcript release form for all attended schools and a high school diploma.
|Columbus, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Franklin University is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, encompassing a main campus in Columbus, several locations throughout the Midwest, and convenient online classes designed for working adults. The 124-credit online bachelor's in forensic accounting is accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.
Forensic accounting students complete business and major courses that cover business law, finance, and fraud investigation techniques. A final forensic accounting capstone requires students to plan and report the results of a fraud examination. Asynchronous course delivery maximizes scheduling flexibility.
Prospective students who either hold a college degree or provide official documentation of high school graduation are eligible for admission. Franklin accepts up to 94 transfer credits.
What Else can I Expect from an Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Program?
Students interested in pursuing an online degree in forensic accounting have several variables to consider when selecting a program. For example, some colleges and universities deliver coursework asynchronously, encouraging more independent and self-directed learning, while other schools teach classes synchronously and require students to participate in real-time web conferences.
Curriculum For an Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting
Specific curriculum requirements, coursework, and specializations differ from school to school; however, all forensic accounting programs include classes related to auditing, fraud examination, and taxation. Below are a few sample courses you can expect to complete.
- Fraud Examination: Fraud examination courses teach students the methodology behind examining occupational fraud. Topics include causes of white-collar crime, detection and implementation of prevention strategies, evidence gathering, and writing forensic documents to report findings.
- Interviewing Techniques for Investigations: Courses on interviewing techniques teach distance learners useful principles and strategies for interrogating parties of interest, such as suspects. Students discuss verbal and nonverbal cues, the legal aspects of interviewing, and how to properly document findings.
- Auditing: All forensic accounting programs include at least one or two classes on auditing. These classes focus on compiling and reviewing financial statements such as assets, liabilities, and equity accounts of profit-oriented enterprises. Topics include standards, ethics, resolution of irregularities, and preserving evidence.
- Federal Taxation: Federal taxation courses examine the theory and practice behind filing federal income tax returns. Topics cover individual, employee, sole proprietor, and investor returns. Distance students examine exemptions, exclusions, deductions, technical research, memo documentation, and the Internal Revenue Code.
How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting?
Online courses represent one of the most flexible options for learning. Many students choose to take classes on a part-time basis and work full-time jobs while earning their degree. Many students, however, go to school full-time and complete their bachelor's degree in forensic accounting online program in four years. Some schools have generous transfer policies and allow incoming students to transfer up to 90 credits, expediting the graduation process. Most bachelor's degree programs require students to complete approximately 120 credit hours; these classes consist of a general education courses, business and economics classes, and forensic accounting-specific coursework.
Colleges and universities offer different approaches and methods to online learning, including courses that are delivered asynchronously and synchronously. Some programs are more self-directed and flexible, while others are cohort-based, which means students go through a sequence of classes together as a group.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Degrees
When selecting a school for your online degree in forensic accounting, it is prudent to look for its accreditation. Academic accreditation ensures the quality of programming at an educational institution.
Accrediting agencies are reputable organizations that verify the continuous upkeep and improvement of colleges and universities. There are two main types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation, which tends to be more prestigious and preferred by other institutions and employers, is a comprehensive educational review of an entire school. Alternatively, national accreditation has less strict standards. Nationally-accredited schools tend to be profit-oriented with lower tuition rates and more flexible admissions requirements.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) helps determine and approve accreditors and oversees all federally-recognized accrediting agencies. While the ED does not accredit institutions or programs individually, they do maintain a list of nationally-recognized accreditors and accredited schools.
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) also plays a key role in the accreditation process; the CHEA is a leading advocacy membership nonprofit association of more than 3,000 U.S. institutions of higher learning. It works to strengthen the accreditation process. Click here to see a list of all CHEA-approved colleges and universities.
The International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) is the accreditation leader in the quality assurance of business programs, including forensic accounting programs. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is another popular organization and is made up of nearly 800 accredited business schools worldwide. Other prestigious accrediting agencies include the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, the Council on Occupational Education, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, and the Higher Learning Commission.
Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Graduates
Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Careers
Earning an online degree in forensic accounting qualifies you to work in a variety of settings, including accounting firms, governmental agencies, law offices, insurance companies, large and small private companies, and nonprofit organizations. You'll also be prepared to sit for for professional certifications, such as a certified fraud examiner and certified public accountant, which could help you eventually start your own accounting or consulting business. Five of the most common career pathways are illustrated below.
- Forensic Accountant
These professionals work closely with law enforcement officers and lawyers during investigations to search for traces of illegal activity and detect fraudulent financial activities and economic crime. They conduct financial investigations to ensure financial integrity and compliance. Forensic accountants often appear as expert witnesses during trials.
Median Annual Salary: $68,150
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Internal and External Auditors
Internal auditors evaluate their organization's operating guidelines and check for any mismanagement of funds. Their main goal is to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, industry standards, and corporate policies. They also find ways to improve the auditing process, reduce financial waste, and prevent fraud. External auditors work outside of organizations to perform similar duties as internal auditors.
Median Annual Salary: $68,150
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, and Investigators
Claims adjusters, appraisers, and investigators evaluate insurance claims and decide if and how much an insurance company must pay for a claim. They work to ensure claims are not fraudulent, confer with legal counsel, and negotiate with policyholders when necessary.
Median Annual Salary: $63,670
Projected Growth Rate: 3%
- Financial Analyst
Financial analysts, also known as securities analysts and investment analysts, assess the performance of investments (e.g., stocks and bonds). They work closely with mutual funds, securities firms, insurance companies, and pension funds to provide guidance and recommendations for investment decisions.
Median Annual Salary: $81,760
Projected Growth Rate: 12%
- Financial Examiners
Financial examiners review transaction and balance sheets and operate income and expense accounts. They also assess bank management to evaluate risks and ensure regulatory and legal compliance for banks and other financial institutions. Examiners sometimes specialize in risk scoping or consumer compliance.
Median Annual Salary: $79,285
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Salary
As the table below indicates, the median yearly income in the field of forensic accounting ranges from $52 to $64K. Overall, a worker's experience positively affects their income, although this influence is relatively limited for auditors, claims adjusters, appraisers, and investigators. Financial analysts tend to experience a salary increase in the first 10 years of their careers; however, additional experience does not play a huge role on their income.
Median Salary for Forensic Accounting Careers by Experience
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, and Investigators||$51,927||$43,000||$52,000||$64,000|
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Program
Distance learners can fund their degrees with grants, loans, work-study programs, and scholarships. Some schools also offer military and veterans' benefits. Upon enrollment, be sure to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to apply for federal financial aid, such as the William D. Ford Federal Direct Student Loan Program. Merit-based scholarships are also available through professional accounting-related organizations, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts.
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