Best Online Bachelor Degree Programs in Forensic Accounting

Mar 15, 2021

Online Forensic Accounting Degree Overview

Forensic accounting is a subset of accounting that focuses on preventing and investigating corporate fraud. Forensic accounting is a highly sought-after field. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), as of 2020 47% of companies surveyed had experienced cybercrime, consumer fraud, or some other form of corruption within the previous two years. Those who study forensic accounting can go on to work in accounting firms, law offices, for the government, or in insurance agencies. There are several education pathways to becoming a forensic accountant with online degree options available at some levels.

Online Associate Degrees in Forensic Accounting

Schools typically do not offer associate degrees specifically in forensic accounting, but many offer associate degrees in accounting that can be completed entirely online. These programs help students to build the basic skills needed by accountants. Students learn about financials, cost, and managerial accounting. An associate degree in accounting typically is 60 credit hours and takes 2 years to complete. It can prepare students for entry-level accountant jobs. If a student wishes to go into forensic accounting, further education is required.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Forensic Accounting

While there aren't many fully online bachelor's degrees specifically in forensic accounting, there are a few available. These degrees provide students with the tools and knowledge to combat white-collar crime and to become, in essence, financial detectives. Students are taught how to prevent and detect fraud. Programs also have a strong math and science focus. Typically, forensic accounting programs range from between 120 to 180 credit hours and take four years to complete. Students who pursue an online degree in forensic accounting can go on to become public accountants, internal auditors, external auditors, management accountants, financial examiners, and forensic accountants.

Online Master's Degrees in Forensic Accounting

Many people choose to pursue master's degrees in forensic accounting. Some forensic accounting jobs in government and law require a graduate degree in order to qualify. There are three different types of master's programs for forensic accounting. They are a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) with a concentration in Forensic Accounting, a Master of Science in Forensic Accounting, and a Master of Science in Accounting with a Concentration in Forensic Accounting. All of these programs are designed to prepare students for the growing forensic accounting industry by teaching students to protect the financial system through audits and investigations. They're also trained to become expert witnesses in lawsuits. Many of these master's programs are fully online and can be completed in under two years. Some programs are designed specifically for people still in the workforce and can be done at a student's own pace.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Forensic Accounting

There are very few online doctoral degrees in forensic accounting available. Many programs are strictly in person. These programs prepare students to teach forensic accounting or prepare them to further their careers. It can take between 4-7 years to complete a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Forensic Accounting and many times cannot be completed while working a full-time job.

Online Certificates in Forensic Accounting

There are a few schools that offer fully online graduate certificates in forensic accounting. These programs are aimed at students who may have completed their undergraduate degrees in accounting and wish to further specialize in forensic accounting. These programs are often designed to teach students about evidence of white-collar crime. Programs typically take less than a year to complete and can be done on a full-time or part-time basis.

Top Forensic Accounting Schools

Study.com has run the numbers, analyzed enormous amounts of data, and investigated the most important and useful attributes of hundreds of colleges to put together the following list of top Forensic Accounting schools in the country. Hard data acquired from trustworthy sources like the US Department of Education, like graduation rates, costs, and retention of students play a significant role, but other offerings schools can provide, such as student organizations, study abroad and internship opportunities, and campus facilities are also weighed. This complex analysis, which you can learn more about on Study.com's ranking methodology page, allows us to present to you thiss definitive list of the top Forensic Accounting programs in the country, any one of which would make an excellent choice.

1. Northeastern State University

The Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting at Tahlequah, Oklahoma's Northeastern State University offers students a top notch education when it comes to auditing, taxation, and fraud detection. The program is designed to prepare students for a Certified Public Accountant license in the state, and features an accelerated bachelor's/master's combined degree option, allowing students to earn both the BBA and a Master of Accounting and Financial Analysis in just five years. Northeastern State University has also received prestigious programmatic accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), providing an objective guarantee of the quality of their offerings.

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6915 100% 33% 93% Yes Yes AP Credits

2. Robert Morris University

Robert Morris University, located in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, is a top choice for students eager to learn all they can about business and accounting. The Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting not only offers a well-rounded education in other areas of business, but also allows students to focus in on the areas of accounting that matter most to them. Robert Morris University's 4+1 programs allow students to obtain both this bachelor's and a master's in just five years, shortening the completion time and making valuable BS/MS degree combinations like a master's in computer information systems or the classic MBA an option.

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$31200 84% 65% 99% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

3. Excelsior College

Excelsior College of Albany, New York is a private, non-profit university with a long history in distance education. Their Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in accounting teaches students the basics of both public and managerial accounting, setting them up for either certification they may be interested in pursuing. Excelsior College's program is also extremely flexible, with 8-week terms, a broad acceptance of transfer credits, and the option to earn credits through testing for knowledge acquired by independent study. The school also has ties with many significant organizations, from corporations like Bank of America to professional organizations such as the New York Bankers' Association, which offer benefits to members and their families who attend.

4. Keiser University - Fort Lauderdale

The Fort Lauderdale, Florida campus of Keiser University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Accounting that provides a broad education in the field, from tax and auditing to corporate, governmental, and non-profit accounting. With its emphasis on keeping class sizes small, even online, Students can rest assured knowing they'll get proper attention from the professors they learn from. The school is also very transfer friendly, allowing students to bring in as many as three years' worth of credits. Keiser even offers courses in this degree program in Spanish, allowing bilingual students more comfortable in that language the chance to develop their skills and enter the field.

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$21008 No Available Data (2019-2020) 69% 89% Yes Yes AP Credits

5. University of Northwestern Ohio

Lima, Ohio is home to the main campus of the University of Northwestern Ohio, where it offers a strong variety of accounting programs with more depth than most. The school's Bachelor of Science in Forensic Accounting takes the focus on fraud and auditing past the realm of a concentration, diving further into it and preparing students to sit for the Certified Fraud Examiner licensing exam. Many of the professors are licensed CPAs, meaning they have real-world experience in accounting to bring to the table, enhancing an already excellent education further. The program is structured so that students can begin taking accounting courses from the first day of the fall semester of their freshman year, giving them a head start and longer lead time than other colleges, where majors are kept behind two years' worth of general studies.

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11670 No Available Data (2019-2020) 60% 93% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Forensic Accounting Specializations/Concentrations

Forensic accounting degrees online typically do not offer specializations or concentrations because they are already a highly specialized degree.

Some schools offer an online bachelor's in accounting degree with a concentration in forensic accounting. These schools typically balance traditional accounting theories and skills with auditing and forensic investigation skills.

Curriculum/Coursework for a Forensic Accounting Degree

Forensic accounting degrees typically consist of general education classes, basic accounting/business requirements, and technical forensic accounting classes. Schools require students to take basic accounting courses before their forensic accounting courses. Schools may also require forensic accounting majors to take ethics and law courses.

Some of the courses offered in forensic accounting programs are:

  • Introduction to Digital Forensics
  • Forensic Accounting I
  • Fraud Examination
  • Legal Implications of Fraud Examination
  • Litigation
  • Interviewing for Fraud

How to Choose a School & Program

Finding an online school and program that fits can often be difficult. However, there are a number of things students can do to help narrow down their options.

For those who plan to become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), students should make sure that their school offers at least 150 credits for its bachelor's degree in forensic accounting. In order to take the CPA exam, a student must complete this number of credits. If a program has under 150 credit hours, students may have to pursue a certificate program or master's program in order to take the CPA exam.

Students might also wish to consider how well the program prepares them to become certified in forensic accounting. While it isn't technically required, being certified significantly increases the possibility of being hired. Some programs specifically state what certification the degree prepares students for, which is helpful when considering all the possible options.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting?

Typically, it takes between 120 and 180 credit hours to complete a degree in forensic accounting online. These programs usually can be completed within four years; however, some programs do offer part-time options for those working or who can't currently attend school full-time.

Many schools encourage students to do an internship while studying accounting. Often, these can be completed for class credit and appeal to future employers while helping the student gain important experience in the forensic accounting field.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor in Forensic Accounting Degrees

Accreditation is extremely important for both the institution and the student. Accreditation can come from a few different places including regional, national, and accrediting agencies.

Regional and national accreditation means that the school is held to quality standards and that students, and the institution itself, are able to receive financial aid.

One of the accrediting agencies for accounting and business is the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). It accredits business programs at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. It holds these programs to quality standards, holds educational conferences, and has public accountability.

Forensic Accounting Licensure & Certification

In order to be an accountant, students must be licensed and certified. They can do this by taking the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) examination. The CPA Exam consists of four, four-hour sections including Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation. All 4 sections must be passed with a minimum score of 75 on each part within 18 months. Those who wish to become a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), must join the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and take its exam.

Prospective students can also become certified by taking the Certified Forensic Accountant® Credentialing Program (CRFAC) or pass the Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) exam. Both of these certifications open the door to possible jobs and enhance resumes.

Forensic Accounting Career Information

Studying forensic accounting opens the door to a career in problem solving and investigation. Some who study forensic accounting choose to become an accountant. The vast majority, however, go on to become forensic accountants, fraud examiners, and auditors.

How to Become a Forensic Accountant

Forensic accountants often work with law enforcement, lawyers, the government, and accounting firms to help authorities with a criminal investigation. A few types of fraud and illegal activities that they investigate are corporate fraud, hedge fund fraud, money laundering, contract disputes, and embezzlement. They hold a bachelor's degree in accounting and almost always are CPAs. Many further their careers by becoming certified as forensic accountants. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those in accounting made a median salary of $71,550 in 2019, and employment is projected to rise 4% by 2029. PayScale.com listed the average salary for forensic accountants as $68,924 in October of 2020.

How to Become a Fraud Examiner

Some who study forensic accounting go on to become fraud examiners. This profession is similar to forensic accounting, but there are some key differences between fraud examiners and forensic accountants. Fraud examiners work in a highly specialized field, like accountants. They traditionally begin as accountants and go on to earn their Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) certificate. Fraud examiners can work in banking, government, insurance, or technology and are essential in the business world. They work to protect the company's assets and help to prevent and detect fraud. According to PayScale.com in November of 2020, certified fraud examiners made an average of $83,018.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Information for Forensic Accounting Degrees

Students who are looking for financial aid for their studies are encouraged to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before the school year begins. States and colleges use the FAFSA to help award financial aid. Once awarded, students must maintain an adequate GPA and remain in good standing for any federal student loans that they have. There are a number of different types of financial aid available for those who need it.

Grants and scholarships are types of aid that do not need to be paid back. Grants are awarded based on need while scholarships are typically applied for by the student (or automatically through the school). Scholarships come in a variety of different shapes and forms. Some are based on ethnicity, location, or financial need while others can be awarded based on an essay, art submission, or any other type of submission. There are even some scholarships that are based on a college major.

Work-study is another form of financial aid. It is when a student works part-time to pay for school.

Loans are the final form of financial aid. They are borrowed money that must be paid back with any interest that accrues. There are a number of different types of loans available.

Professional Organizations in Forensic Accounting

There are many professional organizations for forensic accounting that appeal to employers, create networking opportunities, and work to standardize practices across the forensic accounting field. Often, this shows employers a person's dedication and commitment to the forensic accounting profession.

  • The Institute of Certified Forensic Accountants (ICFA) - The ICFA offers three types of memberships. The starting membership is Associate, which can be upgraded to CPFAcct. The highest membership is Fellowship. The ICFA is committed to ethical and professional standards and holds its members to those standards.
  • The National Association of Forensic Accountants (NAFA) - NAFA provides training in forensic accounting as well as publishes newsletters in an effort to keep all forensic accountants up to date in the industry. It also allows its members to submit to the newsletter and be published within it.
  • American Board of Forensic Accounting (ABFA) - The ABFA is dedicated to the development of the forensic accounting field. It offers further education opportunities, networking opportunities, certification opportunities as well as the opportunity for articles to be published.
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