Forensic Auditing Degree Program Information
A career in forensic auditing begins with obtaining a master's degree. Learn about graduate degree programs in this field, and also find information about career options, salaries and the job outlook for forensic auditors.
Forensic auditors, also referred to as forensic accountants, are responsible for performing investigative research into past financial transactions for the purpose of supporting or disproving legal disputes and litigations. Most aspiring forensic auditors gain a master's degree in forensic accounting or forensic auditing. To enroll in a master's program you will need a bachelor's degree in a related field. You may also be required to be a CPA.
A 2-year master's degree program in forensic accounting provides future forensic auditors with a strong background in the areas of accounting, criminal justice and law. Students enrolled in such a program learn the skills and knowledge necessary to perform in-depth investigations in to previous financial transactions. They learn how to recognize and analyze the movement of money between parties, detect embezzlements, investigate bankruptcies and more.
Graduates of a master's degree program in forensic auditing or accounting can go on to use their skills in private or government firms. In addition to developing detection and accounting skills, they must also learn how to provide uncovered information in a legal setting. Financial auditors are often called upon to be witnesses in trials and depositions, and a master's degree program should cover the legal system well enough to enable them to do so.
Most accredited universities only provide master's in forensic auditing and accounting degree programs to those students who have already completed a bachelor's degree program in accounting. In fact, many universities also require that applicants already be certified public accountants, or CPAs. Some programs do accept individuals with only an undergraduate degree in business or a related subject, however.
Courses in a master's degree program in forensic auditing cover both the foundations of accounting as well as the foundations of criminal justice. Students must learn how to apply their knowledge accounting systems to legal cases. Some courses that provide relevant information in these areas include:
- Advanced accounting
- Internal and external fraud investigation
- Asset protection
- Criminal law
- Securities fraud
- E-commerce accounting
- Federal income tax procedures
- Auditing theory and practice
Popular Career Options
Forensic accounting is a quickly growing aspect of the accounting field. Most major accounting firms have their own forensic accounting or auditing branches, and many large corporations keep forensic accountants on retainer. There are subcategories of the field, resulting in many career options for graduates of a master's degree program in forensic accounting. These categories include:
- Insurance claim forensic accountant
- Personal claim forensic accountant
- Tax fraud forensic accountant
- Professional negligence claim forensic accountant
- Royalty dispute forensic accountant
- Money laundering forensic accountant
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job openings for accountants and auditors, including forensic auditors, are expected to increase by 16% from 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). This growth is due to financial crises in the late 2000s, as well as business globalization, projects the BLS. The median annual salary for accountants and auditors was $63,550 as of May 2012, per the BLS.
Certification is not typically required for forensic auditors. However, certain organizations, such as the American College of Forensic Examiners, offer certification in the field. The ACFE offers a Certified Forensic Accountant (Cr.FA) program that provides professionals with a working knowledge of forensic auditing with credentials. Only CPAs are eligible to sit for the certification examination.
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