Online Bachelor’s in Forensic Accounting Programs 2021

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The demand for forensic accountants continues to grow in response to financial crimes such as money laundering, embezzlement, and identity theft. Forensic accounting offers a dynamic career opportunity for degree-seekers interested in an accounting career that combines accounting and specialized investigative skills.

A bachelor’s in forensic accounting provides the general accounting and specialized training needed for an entry-level accounting job. Graduates enter a well-paying field that also offers good employment prospects. Accountants earn a $73,560 median annual salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Learners who specialize in forensic accounting and hold industry certifications can earn substantially more than general accountants.

This guide provides more information about forensic accounting programs, salary and job prospects, and scholarships.

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FAQ's: Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Programs

  • How do you become a forensic accountant?

    Aspiring forensic accountants need at least a bachelor’s in accounting, forensic accounting, or a related field. Coursework in criminal justice or law enforcement provides an edge, as does CPA and CFE certification.

  • What do forensic accountants do?

    Forensic accountants investigate financial information and other data to identify fraud or trace hidden assets. They prepare reports of their findings and testify as needed during litigation.

  • How much do forensic accountants make?

    A general accountant makes a median annual salary of $73,560. Those who assume roles as financial analysts earn a median pay of $83,660 per year. Accountants with more experience can expect higher pay.

  • Who hires forensic accountants?

    Accounting firms, financial institutions, insurance companies, law enforcement agencies, and other organizations hire these specialists to investigate various financial crimes.

Why Get a Degree in Forensic Accounting?

The forensic accounting field enjoys growth as companies work to reduce financial risk and address increasing financial wrongdoing such as cybercrime. A forensic accounting bachelor’s degree provides the theoretical learning and hands-on training needed for entry-level positions.

The degree also prepares students for highly prized certifications such as certified public accountant (CPA) and certified fraud examiner (CFE). Students receive the foundation necessary to pursue a master’s degree in accounting, giving them an advantage over peers. Many schools offer this degree online, providing learners with a flexible way to train for accountancy careers. Once they graduate, accountants can begin building their experience to advance their careers, employment prospects, and pay.

How Much Does a Forensic Accounting Degree Cost?

Students can expect to pay between $318-$450 per credit, and $38,160-$66,780 for an online bachelor’s in forensic accounting. The cost of forensic accounting degrees depends on numerous factors. Online learning allows learners to earn their degree without relocating. They need not pay additional costs such as transportation and childcare. Degree-seekers can save money attending schools that charge a flat-rate tuition regardless of residency.

Students can save even more on tuition by transferring general education credits from community colleges into a bachelor’s in forensic accounting program. Some colleges allow students to transfer up to 90 credits, providing great savings on bachelor’s programs. In addition, accelerated 7- to 8-week terms typically shorten a student’s degree completion time, helping them save on tuition costs.

Military-friendly institutions provide reduced tuition rates for active-duty personnel and veterans. Students should explore each institution’s financial aid options to ensure a generous financial aid package.

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How Much Do Forensic Accounting Majors Make?

While no degree can ensure employment, demand for forensic accountants helps increase learner’s chances of finding work after graduation. Job availability depends on factors such as location and career experience. While accountants earn a $73,560 median annual pay, forensic accountants generally make higher salaries.

Accounting professionals and others with CFE credentials and fraud-related professional experience often make high salaries. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) notes that CFEs earn 34% more pay than their noncertified peers. Over their careers, CFEs earn about $600,000 more than non-CFEs. Robert Half, a global HR consulting firm, projects a midpoint salary of $95,500 for forensic accountants in 2021. The organization also highlights some hot jobs in finance and accounting, including financial analysts and internal auditors.

Accountants who assume roles as financial analysts with just a bachelor’s degree and no experience earn a median pay of $83,660 annually. The BLS also projects 5% employment growth for these professionals between 2019-2029.

Courses in Forensic Accounting

A bachelor’s in forensic accounting blends general accounting principles and specialized forensic accounting coursework. Students complete 120-180 credits depending on the institution. General accounting courses cover topics such as managerial accounting, federal income tax, and financial statement analysis.

Degree-seekers cultivate proficiencies in specialized areas including white collar crime, the legal aspects of search and seizure, interviewing techniques, and fraud and compliance operations. An internship with an accounting firm gives students hands-on experience that employers value. Students culminate the bachelor’s in forensic accounting with a comprehensive exam and/or a capstone project.

Students need 120-150 credits to qualify for the CPA. Many programs prepare students for the CPA, CFE, and other certifications. The following lists three courses representative of a sample curriculum.

The course introduces learners to established accounting principles and auditing standards. They review topics such as the CPA code of professional conduct and an auditor’s legal liability. Accounting students learn how to plan an audit, collect evidence, and produce various audit reports.

Students learn how to detect common occupational fraud such as embezzlement, financial leakages, and stock fraud. Enrollees establish how the fraud was committed, interview witnesses, and document evidence. They learn what measures to put in place to thwart further illegal action.

Students explore the growing incidences of computer crime such as identity theft. They learn how to use forensic analysis tools such as Autopsy and AXIOM to find digital evidence. Learners review cybercrime case studies, legal aspects, and the best practices used to crack cases.

Certifications and Licensure for Forensic Accounting

The CPA serves as the only licensing credential in accounting. Certifications in forensic accounting validate the holder’s ability to perform tasks and procedures to industry standards. The following lists three key certifications for forensic accounting students and professionals.

Certified Public Accountant

The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) developed and administers the Uniform CPA Examination. Students can take the CPA exam with 120 credits, but most states require 150. Candidates pay application and exam fees and sit for a four-section exam that includes multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations.

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Certified Forensic Accountant

The American Board of Forensic Accounting’s CRFAC certifies accountants’ forensic accounting proficiencies. Candidates must hold a CPA license, a bachelor’s degree, and at least two years of accounting/auditing experience. They must complete the CRFAC program to earn the credential.

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Certified Fraud Examiner

ACFE offers this certification to candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree. ACFE associate members must demonstrate high moral character and at least two years of professional experience in fraud detection or a related field. They pay a fee and sit for the four-section CFE exam.

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Scholarships for Forensic Accounting

Degree-seekers interested in pursuing a bachelor’s in forensic accounting can use scholarship funding to help pay for tuition and related expenses. Funders establish eligibility guidelines such as financial need and outstanding academic performance. The following lists three scholarships.

  • AICPA Scholarship Program

    Who Can Apply: AICPA offers scholarships for accounting majors such as transfer students, ethnically diverse undergraduates, and accounting majors planning to pursue the CPA. Eligibility requirements vary.

    Amount: $1,500-$10,000

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  • Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: EFWA administers a scholarship program for female U.S. citizens pursuing a degree in accounting. Eligibility requirements include academic performance, financial need, and a commitment to the accounting and finance field.

    Amount: Varies

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Online Bachelor’s in Forensic Accounting Programs 2021

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