A program in forensic accounting, or financial forensics, provides a solid background for a career in fraud investigation. These programs are usually offered at the bachelor's degree level, although a master's degree with a focus on business administration, ethics or fraud management is an option for students interested in policy or leadership roles in fraud investigation.
Financial Forensics/Fraud Investigation Programs
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Tuition* (2015-2016)|
|CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice||New York, NY||4-year, public||Certificate, Bachelor's, Postgraduate Certificate||Undergraduate, $6,810 (In-state); Graduate, $10,130 (In-state)|
|Missouri State University - Springfield||Springfield, MO||4-year, public||Graduate Certificate||Forensic Accounting Certificate, $5,500 (2016-2017)|
|Canisius College||Buffalo, NY||4-year, private not-for-profit||Master's||Graduate, $14,040|
|Carlow University||Pittsburgh, PA||4-year, private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Graduate Certificate, Master's||Undergraduate, $26,832; Graduate, $16,040|
|La Salle University||Philadelphia, PA||4-year, private not-for-profit||Graduate Certificate||Forensic Accounting Certificate, $11,775 (2016-2017)|
|Champlain College||Burlington, VT||4-year, private not-for-profit||Certificate, Bachelor's||Undergraduate, $37,536|
|University of Baltimore||Baltimore, MD||4-year, public||Graduate Certificate||Graduate, $13,096 (In-state); $18,819 (Out-of-state)|
|Christian Brothers University||Memphis, TN||4-year, private not-for-profit||Master's||Master of Accountancy, $20,690 (2014-2015)|
|Utica College||Utica, NY||4-year, private not-for-profit||Certificate, Bachelor's, Graduate Certificate, Master's||Undergraduate, $34,466; Graduate, $17,877|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), school websites
School Selection Criteria
When deciding on a bank fraud investigation school, there are several factors to keep in mind.
- Some programs allow students to combine a master's degree and graduate certificate program (for instance, a Master of Business Administration degree might be earned along with a certificate in forensic accounting).
- Graduate certificate programs in forensic accounting also exist and may take less time to complete.
- Bachelor's degree programs are more likely to require courses in a wide range of topics, such as psychology, information technology, accounting, business and law. Master's degree programs tend to be more specialized, focusing on disciplines such as financial law or fraud prevention.
- In a typical program, students learn scientific methods for preventing and detecting fraud, researching cases and managing information security and may complete investigative assignments, jobs or internships outside of the classroom. Consider whether the program provides this type of practical training.
Bachelor's Degree in Financial Forensics or Crime Investigation
Students complete internships at banks, insurance crime bureaus, credit card companies or other agencies in need of financial investigators. They also supplement degree courses with general education requirements in the humanities and sciences.
Certificate in Forensic Accounting or Fraud Investigation
Students who don't want to invest in a degree program can earn a certificate, often in less than a year. Certificate programs usually offer graduate-level coursework, and a graduate certificate may require a four-year degree in accounting or Certified Professional Accountant (CPA) certification. Classes are often designed for working professionals and may be offered online, on-site or in a hybrid format. Students may perform simulated investigations to practice their investigation skills.
Master's Degree in Business Ethics or Fraud Investigation
Many master's programs focus on the detection and prevention of fraud in business. Legal and analytical issues are considered as they relate to fraud management. Like certificate classes, these courses may be offered online or in the evenings to accommodate a professional schedule. Students may have opportunities to participate in internships.
Master's Degree in Business Administration, Financial Law or Accounting
These programs offer courses in fraud management, but cover broader aspects of business and finance as well. Students can learn more about the structure of banks by studying commercial lending, bankruptcy and other topics. A practicum may be required for some programs.
Program options for those interested in a career in bank fraud investigations range from undergraduate certificates to master's degrees or graduate certificate studies. It is also possible to complete some programs through online studies.