Earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Economic Crime and Fraud Management, a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Accounting or an M.A. in Accounting and Financial Management with a certified fraud examiner track prepares distance learning students for careers in fraud examination. These programs are typically designed for individuals with professional and/or academic backgrounds in accounting. Fraud examination master's degree programs also qualify students for the certified fraud examiner exam offered through the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
Most online fraud examination master's degree programs take two years or more to complete, depending on whether students pursue part time or full time study and whether or not they've earned an undergraduate degree in accounting. Holding a bachelor's degree is required before applying to these programs, though it need not be in accounting. Programs in this field of study are usually offered totally online, but some may require a selection of campus-based learning experiences.
Students interested in earning a master's degree in fraud management or accounting must have a bachelor's degree prior to admission. Schools may require that these undergraduate degrees be in accounting, but some institutions allow students without this academic background to complete foundational coursework as part of conditional admission. Resumes are also commonly requested from program applicants.
Distance learning coursework in accounting and fraud examination is designed to mirror that offered on campus. Programs typically have a core set of courses as part of the degree plan. Depending on whether the program leads to a business or accounting degree, core coursework may include topics such as accounting trends, financial research methods, international accounting, quantitative analysis and financial management. Fraud examination classes offered online often include the following:
Principles of Fraud Investigation
Fraud detection and investigation is key to performing fraud examination work. Lessons cover common organizational policies and procedures, in addition to tools for detecting and investigating instances of suspected fraud. Students talk about legal and ethical standards of investigation and address counter-fraud measures as well.
Legal Principles of Fraud Examination
The legal rights and responsibilities of corporations and individuals are the focus of this class. Coursework incorporates case law, privacy, ethics and human resources issues. This class may also cover domestic and international fraud examination, in-person fraud, electronic fraud and cyber crimes.
Forensic accounting classes emphasize the prevention, detection and investigation of fraud. Forensic accounting includes the development of auditing policies and procedures as well as an examination of flaws in auditing and appropriate counter-measures.
Distance learning fraud examination programs usually have start dates tied to an on-campus semester schedule; however, students can generally work on their own schedule within each term. Lessons and coursework are sent between instructors and students by e-mail or electronic course management systems. Students can participate in online discussion board conversations or online chats with instructors and classmates.
While many programs are fully online, some programs may require short residencies or a series of on-campus meetings. Others could offer the option to enroll in hybrid courses or blend distance learning and campus-based classes.
Students who complete a distance learning master's degree program in fraud examination are typically prepared for careers in banking, telecommunications, retail, public service and insurance. Taking the certified fraud examiner exam may be required for career advancement. Graduation with a master's degree in fraud examination can lead to a career as a senior internal auditor, compliance examiner, fraud analyst, corporate security manager or investigative analyst. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly wage was $88,310 for financial examiners in 2015 and $72,500 for auditors in 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Master's degree programs in fraud examination provide students with knowledge and training in fraud detection, prevention and investigation. These programs are often fully available online, and once completed can provide graduates access to careers ranging from fraud analysis to corporate security.