Forensic accountants and auditors investigate corporate misconduct and financial scandal, combining the skills of accountants and investigators. Many schools offer forensic accounting courses or minors within an accounting field of study, though a few include undergraduate majors and graduate-level programs specifically in forensic accounting.
Top Accounting Schools
Accounting programs are available at several reputable postsecondary institutions.
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Tuition (2018-2019)*|
|University of Texas - Austin||Austin, TX||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||Undergraduate: In-state $10,610; Out-of-state $37,580; Graduate: In-state $11,742; Out-of state $22,564|
|University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, PA||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||Undergraduate $55,584; Graduate $38,630|
|University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign||Champaign, IL||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||Undergraduate: In-state $15,054; Out-of-state $31,664; Graduate: In-state $18,126; Out-of state $31,279|
|University of Michigan - Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor, MI||4-year, Public||Master's||Graduate: In-state $23,456; Out-of state $47,006|
|Stanford University||Stanford, CA||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Doctoral||Graduate $51,354|
|Brigham Young University - Provo||Provo, UT||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's||Undergraduate $5,620; Graduate $7,080|
|New York University||New York, NY||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Graduate Certificate||Undergraduate $51,828; Graduate $45,426|
|University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's||Undergraduate $56,225; Graduate $45,561|
|University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC||4-year, Public||Master's||Graduate: In-state $12,212; Out-of state $29,423|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
School Selection Criteria
Students interested in forensic auditing programs may want to keep these considerations in mind:
- Some schools seek to prepare students to become Certified Public Accountants and for the widely recognized Certified Financial Examiner (CFE) credential offered by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).
- To provide practical experience, some programs stage mock trials and investigations, offer internships, or provide opportunities to work on consulting projects through school-sponsored activities.
- Students should evaluate their career goals to determine the level of broad or explicit training they desire.
- Not all programs offer forensic accounting as a major, and those interested in entering this field may wish to select a school with a forensic accounting major.
Certificate in Forensic Accounting
Professionals in legal or accounting fields can enroll in a continuing education or graduate certificate program in forensic accounting. Some programs require a bachelor's degree and allow credit to be applied toward graduate studies. Courses cover topics in:
Bachelor of Science in Forensic Accounting
Bachelor's degree programs include four years of study that introduce basic accounting principles with fraud investigation techniques. Some schools offer a dual-degree option, allowing students to earn a bachelor's and master's degree simultaneously. Often, undergraduate studies and programs focus on or include a broad foundational knowledge base in accounting with supplemental instruction in forensic auditing.
Master of Science in Forensic Accounting
Applicants to a master's degree program in forensic accounting, sometimes offered as a Master of Business Administration degree with a forensic accounting concentration, usually must have a bachelor's degree in an accounting field. Graduates of a master's degree program usually satisfy the necessary education and practical experience requirements mandated by the state to take the Certified Public Accountant exam.
Since forensic accounting is not available as a major or specific program focus in all accounting programs, those interested in a career in this field make sure the program they select has a strong concentration of coursework in forensic accounting. It is also possible to pursue graduate studies, and some graduate programs focus specifically on forensic accounting.