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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 of 2021? 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|
- How We Rank Schools
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2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Forensic Accounting Programs
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West Virginia University
|Morgantown, WV||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 60%||
WVU in Morgantown offers an online master of science in forensic and fraud examination accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The program uses a convenient asynchronous format, however WVU requires all students to complete two campus visits.
The 30-credit online master's degree in forensic accounting consists of 10 courses. The curriculum provides an interdisciplinary education covering topics like mergers and acquisitions, federal tax research and writing, fraud investigation, and advanced federal corporate tax.
Qualifying candidates must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2 or a score of 500 on the GMAT. If applicants do not meet these requirements they may still qualify if they possess a certified public accountant certificate or other related certification, a juris doctor degree, or two years of work experience.
Florida Atlantic University
|Boca Raton, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
FAU offers a variety of online programs, including an executive master of accounting with a concentration in forensic accounting. Online learning at FAU gives students the flexibility to complete course requirements remotely. Most online courses offer the option to stream live video sessions or watch them at any time.
FAU's online master's in forensic accounting is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and takes two years to complete. The curriculum includes financial accounting concepts, cost accounting theory and practice, and forensic accounting and the legal environment.
To qualify, prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. FAU's admission rate is approximately 35%. The admissions office processes applications year-round, but this program offers three start dates in the spring, summer, and fall.
Bay Path University
|Longmeadow, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Bay Path is located in Longmeadow, Massachusetts and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. It offers over 30 online graduate degree programs, including a master of science in accounting with a concentration in forensic accounting. The fully online program delivers coursework in an asynchronous format.
The 30-credit master's in forensic accounting may take eight, 12, or 24 months to complete depending on a student's course load. The curriculum includes coursework in controllership, IT for accountants, fraud examination, and advanced auditing. Graduates are prepared to sit for the certified public accountant exam.
Prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree. Applicants must submit official school transcripts, a resume, two letters of recommendation, and complete a phone or in-person interview with the director of the accounting program.
|Pittsburgh, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carlow University offers several online programs, including a master of science in fraud and accounting. The fully online program typically takes one year to complete.
The 30-credit program fulfills the 150 hours students need to qualify for the certified public accountant exam. The curriculum examines white collar crime, fraud prevention and ethics, financial statement examination, and the legal elements of fraud. Students must complete a virtual residency to graduate. About 99% of graduates find degree-related employment.
To qualify, prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree with a cumulative 3.0 GPA and one year of experience. Applicants must submit a resume, a 300-word personal essay, and two professional letters of recommendation. All applicants must also schedule an interview with an admissions officer.
Carlow is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
A nonprofit university based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty offers a variety of degree options, including an online master of science in accounting - forensic accounting. The program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and consistently ranks among the top 1% of online programs.
The 30-credit program takes one year to complete and caters to working professionals. The curriculum includes key courses, such as corporate governance and fraudulent financial reporting, accounting ethics, and information technology and fraud. Graduates are prepared to sit for the certified public accountant exam.
Qualifying candidates must possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. If a student's undergraduate degree did not include certain accounting courses, they may need to complete Liberty's undergraduate certificate in accounting prior to acceptance.
|Utica, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Utica College offers a variety of online graduate programs, including a master of science in financial crime and compliance management. Online students can access their digital classrooms 24/7 to complete coursework.
This part-time online master's in forensic accounting typically takes two years to complete. The curriculum includes coursework in financial investigations, networks and internet security, and organizational theory, structure, and design. Students must complete a capstone to graduate which entails a professional project or thesis.
Prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a personal statement, resume, and a letter of recommendation.
UC is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
|Stevenson, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 56%||
Stevenson University offers over 22 convenient online degree options, including a master of science in forensic accounting. Online learning caters to working professionals and allows students to complete coursework at any time of day.
Students in Stevenson's online master's degree in forensic accounting learn from practicing forensic accountants. The curriculum focuses on career-based topics and includes coursework in accounting fraud; investigation and analysis: auditing; investigation and analysis: tax; business valuation; and litigation theory and practice.
Qualifying applicants must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Admissions may prefer candidates with an undergraduate degree in accounting, but students may substitute this requirement with qualifying professional experience.
Stevenson in Owings Mills, Maryland, is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education, Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities.
|Misenheimer, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Pfeiffer is located in Misenheimer, North Carolina and is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Pfeiffer offers several graduate programs, including North Carolina's first master of science in financial fraud investigations. Online learning allows students to complete all coursework remotely at any time of day.
The 30-credit program offers three specialization options in cyber forensics, anti-money laundering and law enforcement, or an MBA/MSL. The core curriculum includes coursework in fraud and the law, organizational communications, and fraud analytics. Students must complete a capstone to graduate.
To qualify, prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Applicants must submit official school transcripts and three letters of recommendation along with GRE, GMAT, or Miller Analogies test scores.
Southern New Hampshire University
|Manchester, NH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. It is located in Manchester, but also serves 135,000 online students. SNHU offers a variety of online degree programs, including a master of science in accounting with a concentration in forensic accounting.
SNHU's 36-credit program holds accreditation with the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. The curriculum includes core accounting courses along with concentration-specific courses like detection and prevention of fraudulent financial statements, interview techniques, and investigating with computers.
Nearly 96% of students say they would recommend SNHU. It offers affordable online tuition rates and boasts an easy application process. Applicants must submit an application, a personal statement, and official undergraduate transcripts.
New England College
|Henniker, NH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 25%||
Based in Henniker, New Hampshire, New England College offers several online programs, including a master of science in accounting with a specialization in forensic accounting. Online learning is delivered asynchronously to allow busy professionals to complete all coursework remotely any time of day.
The 40-credit program provides a comprehensive overview of forensic accounting principles and investigative techniques. The curriculum includes core courses in cost accounting, taxation, and auditing. The program fulfills the 150-hour requirement for the certified public accountant exam. Graduates may also qualify for the certified management accountant or certified internal auditor exams.
About 75% of professors at NEC hold a terminal degree to provide students with a quality education. NEC caters to students with a variety of educational or professional backgrounds and offers a simple application process.
New England College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
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.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.
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
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
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.
- Loss Quantification
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 Manager
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 Analyst
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 Analyst
Management analysts assess organizational performances and develop improvement strategies. They may evaluate financial data, operational processes, employee performance, and organizational culture.
- Financial Analyst
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.