Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Forensic Accounting

Finding the Right Forensic Accounting Program & Exploring Careers

As long as financial fraud exists, organizations and business owners must rely on forensic accountants to protect assets and uncover deception. Driven by changing regulations, digital banking, and a booming economy, the demand for accountants is rapidly increasing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for accountants and auditors is projected to reach 10% in the coming decade — higher than the national average for all occupations. Combining foundational business coursework with topics like investigation and auditing, a bachelor’s in forensic accounting offers the skills needed to take on entry-level roles in the field.

How Much Can You Make in a Forensic Accounting Career?

After earning a forensic accounting degree online, graduates go on to pursue a wide variety of accounting and finance positions. While a degree does not guarantee employment or a specific starting salary, a bachelor’s in forensic accounting opens up numerous career opportunities in claims adjusting; financial analysis and management; auditing; and related areas. Below are median annual salaries, job descriptions, and projected job growth rates for three positions popular among graduates. Although many entry-level roles require only a bachelor’s degree, some careers may necessitate further education or specialized credentials for advancement.

Financial Analysts

Median Annual Salary: $84,300

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 10.8% Job Description

Working with private consultants or with businesses, financial analysts assist both individuals and organizations with financial decisions and investments. They examine economic trends and company financial histories to make informed decisions. After earning a forensic accounting degree online, prospective analysts usually pursue specialized credentials.

Accountants and Auditors

Median Annual Salary: $69,350

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 10% Job Description

Accountants and auditors examine, evaluate, and prepare financial records and tax reports. They ensure that an organization complies with tax laws and maintains accurate records. A bachelor’s in forensic accounting is especially useful for prospective auditors who investigate financial wrongdoing.

Financial Managers

Median Annual Salary: $125,080

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: 18.7% Job Description

These high-level employees are responsible for an entire organization’s financial performance, from budgeting and investing to strategy development. Financial managers generally work for banks, insurance companies, and similar businesses. In addition to a bachelor’s in forensic accounting or a similar degree, most managers possess years of professional experience, and typically hold specialty credentials, certifications, and advanced degrees.

Sources: BLS 2018

Along with education, location plays a significant role in earning potential. While California, Texas, and New York boast the largest population of claims adjuster, examiner, and investigator positions, as well as the highest median salaries, the cost of living in these states is also among the highest in the country. Demand for accounting professionals is also strong in New York City, Phoenix, and Chicago. The following data looks at accounting job growth, demand, and salary potential across the U.S.


  • Alabama
    Median Annual Salary: $64,340

    Number Currently Employed: 3,880

    Projected Job Growth: -2.5 percent


  • Alaska
    Median Annual Salary: $75,080

    Number Currently Employed: 240

    Projected Job Growth: +0.8 percent


  • Arizona
    Median Annual Salary: $67,450

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Arkansas
    Median Annual Salary: $59,930

    Number Currently Employed: 1,470

    Projected Job Growth: +2 percent


  • California
    Median Annual Salary: $69,770

    Number Currently Employed: 33,700

    Projected Job Growth: -2.1 percent


  • Colorado
    Median Annual Salary: $74,260

    Number Currently Employed: 3,700

    Projected Job Growth: +13.1 percent


  • District of Columbia (DC)
    Median Annual Salary: $73,720

    Number Currently Employed: 770

    Projected Job Growth: -7 percent


  • Connecticut
    Median Annual Salary: $75,160

    Number Currently Employed: 5,170

    Projected Job Growth: -0.8 percent


  • Delaware
    Median Annual Salary: $63,930

    Number Currently Employed: 680

    Projected Job Growth: -4.2 percent


  • Florida
    Median Annual Salary: $60,770

    Number Currently Employed: 20,870

    Projected Job Growth: +7.1 percent


  • Georgia
    Median Annual Salary: $64,410

    Number Currently Employed: 8,460

    Projected Job Growth: +3.9 percent


  • Hawaii
    Median Annual Salary: $63,570

    Number Currently Employed: 800

    Projected Job Growth: -3.8 percent


  • Idaho
    Median Annual Salary: $62,340

    Number Currently Employed: 860

    Projected Job Growth: +2.6 percent


  • Illinois
    Median Annual Salary: $66,030

    Number Currently Employed: 10,710

    Projected Job Growth: -1.8 percent


  • Indiana
    Median Annual Salary: $61,050

    Number Currently Employed: 3,600

    Projected Job Growth: -2.1 percent


  • Iowa
    Median Annual Salary: $61,920

    Number Currently Employed: 3,590

    Projected Job Growth: +7.4 percent


  • Kansas
    Median Annual Salary: $67,170

    Number Currently Employed: 3,030

    Projected Job Growth: +0.2 percent


  • Kentucky
    Median Annual Salary: $55,310

    Number Currently Employed: 4,100

    Projected Job Growth: -0.5 percent


  • Lousiana
    Median Annual Salary: $68,270

    Number Currently Employed: 2,910

    Projected Job Growth: +1.3 percent


  • Maine
    Median Annual Salary: $59,760

    Number Currently Employed: 1,680

    Projected Job Growth: -8.6 percent


  • Maryland
    Median Annual Salary: $68,790

    Number Currently Employed: 6,530

    Projected Job Growth: +4.6 percent


  • Massachusuetts
    Median Annual Salary: $73,210

    Number Currently Employed: 7,030

    Projected Job Growth: -2.4 percent


  • Michigan
    Median Annual Salary: $65,800

    Number Currently Employed: 6,590

    Projected Job Growth: -3 percent


  • Minnesota
    Median Annual Salary: $62,230

    Number Currently Employed: 5,140

    Projected Job Growth: -4.2 percent


  • Mississippi
    Median Annual Salary: $63,110

    Number Currently Employed: 1,400

    Projected Job Growth: -5.7 percent


  • Missouri
    Median Annual Salary: $64,130

    Number Currently Employed: 8,230

    Projected Job Growth: +1.4 percent


  • Montana
    Median Annual Salary: $53,630

    Number Currently Employed: 1,010

    Projected Job Growth: -0.7 percent


  • Nebraska
    Median Annual Salary: $58,870

    Number Currently Employed: 3,210

    Projected Job Growth: +0.2 percent


  • Nevada
    Median Annual Salary: $64,740

    Number Currently Employed: 1,480

    Projected Job Growth: +2.3 percent


  • New Hampsire
    Median Annual Salary: $66,260

    Number Currently Employed: 1,620

    Projected Job Growth: -1.9 percent


  • New Jersey
    Median Annual Salary: $73,500

    Number Currently Employed: 11,860

    Projected Job Growth: -2.4 percent


  • New Mexico
    Median Annual Salary: $59,720

    Number Currently Employed: 870

    Projected Job Growth: -3.6 percent


  • New York
    Median Annual Salary: $70,050

    Number Currently Employed: 22,170

    Projected Job Growth: -2.1 percent


  • North Carolina
    Median Annual Salary: $63,280

    Number Currently Employed: 8,410

    Projected Job Growth: +5.4 percent


  • North Dakota
    Median Annual Salary: $51,040

    Number Currently Employed: 670

    Projected Job Growth: +4 percent


  • Ohio
    Median Annual Salary: $65,280

    Number Currently Employed: 11,380

    Projected Job Growth: -2.4 percent


  • Oklahoma
    Median Annual Salary: $58,860

    Number Currently Employed: 3,620

    Projected Job Growth: -3.4 percent


  • Oregon
    Median Annual Salary: $69,040

    Number Currently Employed: 3,220

    Projected Job Growth: -3.6 percent


  • Pennsylvania
    Median Annual Salary: $65,090

    Number Currently Employed: 13,720

    Projected Job Growth: -3.2 percent


  • Rhode Island
    Median Annual Salary: $71,320

    Number Currently Employed: 1,430

    Projected Job Growth: -0.9 percent


  • South Carolina
    Median Annual Salary: $63,250

    Number Currently Employed: 2,650

    Projected Job Growth: -2.3 percent


  • South Dakota
    Median Annual Salary: $62,180

    Number Currently Employed: 720

    Projected Job Growth: +6.8 percent


  • Tennessee
    Median Annual Salary: $61,160

    Number Currently Employed: 5,800

    Projected Job Growth: +3 percent


  • Texas
    Median Annual Salary: $70,000

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Utah
    Median Annual Salary: $58,660

    Number Currently Employed: 2,130

    Projected Job Growth: +20 percent


  • Vermont
    Median Annual Salary: $63,150

    Number Currently Employed: 260

    Projected Job Growth: -5 percent


  • Virginia
    Median Annual Salary: $64,380

    Number Currently Employed: 5,260

    Projected Job Growth: -0.6 percent


  • Washington
    Median Annual Salary: $70,030

    Number Currently Employed: 6,160

    Projected Job Growth: +1.4 percent


  • West Virginia
    Median Annual Salary: $56,000

    Number Currently Employed: 1,240

    Projected Job Growth: -2.3 percent


  • Wisconsin
    Median Annual Salary: $62,950

    Number Currently Employed: 6,110

    Projected Job Growth: +0.1 percent


  • Wyoming
    Median Annual Salary: $63,220

    Number Currently Employed: 150

    Projected Job Growth: -2.7 percent


What Courses Can be Taken for an Online Forensic Accounting Degree?

Every bachelor’s in forensic accounting curriculum is slightly different, and course offerings and concentrations tend to vary between programs and institutions. Most programs include a series of core courses that address foundational topics and develop standard accounting competencies. Regardless of the school you attend, you are likely to encounter one or more of the five sample courses below.

Intermediate Accounting

Presenting a broad survey of more advanced accounting topics, this course builds upon prior knowledge of cash flow, retirement benefits, and the value of money. Students learn to create balance sheets and income statements.

Auditing

This course provides a thorough overview of the auditing process. Possible lecture topics include evidence gathering, audit planning, internal control review, and other auditing procedures.

Legal Elements of Fraud

Students explore the protocols and legal standards surrounding fraud report preparation. Coursework addresses fraud-related criminal and civil laws in multiple contexts.

Fraud Investigation Interviewing

Building upon theoretical foundations, this course introduces interrogation and investigation techniques used in suspected fraud cases. Class topics include interview preparation and reading verbal and nonverbal cues.

Capstone

Capstone contents and requirements often vary considerably between programs. In most cases, students enrolled in a capstone course must compose a thesis, project, presentation, or a research paper.

How to Choose the Best Online Forensic Accounting Program

There are many variables to consider before you decide on a forensic accounting program. Along with your personal learning style and career goals, it is important to account for factors such as student outcomes, tuition costs, accreditation, available concentrations, and graduation requirements. The following section answers some common questions for prospective students as they explore program options.

What accreditations does my forensic accounting program need?

A quality forensic accounting program holds both institutional and programmatic accreditation. Regionally accredited colleges and universities are typically viewed more favorably than nationally accredited institutions, and many employers prefer to hire graduates of regionally accredited schools. Programmatic accreditation may also influence future employment and funding opportunities. Some third-party scholarships are reserved for candidates enrolled in programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

How will earning a forensic accounting degree online help my career?

An online bachelor’s degree in forensic accounting opens up many entry-level positions in the field and presents current professionals with new job advancement opportunities. Earning a forensic accounting degree online can also be a great way of transitioning to a new career without quitting your current job or cutting back on work hours to study full time.

Can I pursue a different accounting position even if I earn a forensic accounting degree?

Yes. A typical online bachelor’s degree in forensic accounting introduces foundational business and accounting topics. Over the course of their studies, distance learners explore many broadly-applicable concepts and skills that are relevant to a variety of business and finance-related occupations. While graduates acquire the specialized knowledge needed to work in forensic accounting areas, such as claims adjusting, auditing, and financial investigation, many succeed in different but related fields.

Will I need to complete an internship or practicum during my program?

Internship, practicum, and direct experience requirements vary by program and school, and some curricula omit them entirely. Internships often present valuable opportunities to build and strengthen industry relationships, work alongside seasoned professionals, and learn about nearby job openings. Typically, hands-on experiences are arranged at a location close to the student’s residence.

How well does the forensic accounting field work with distance learning?

While most on-campus accounting courses are presented on strict schedules, web-based programs are often asynchronous, allowing students to review class materials and complete assignments at their convenience. Asynchronous programs typically include features such as message boards and discussion forums to connect peers and professors.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Forensic Accounting Programs

Students pursuing a forensic accounting degree online fund their studies in a variety of ways, from federal and private loans to work-study programs. Unlike student loans, however, grants and scholarships do not need to be paid back, making them an ideal choice for learners who wish to avoid debt. Below are five of the many scholarship opportunities created with forensic accounting students in mind.

Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship Program

The Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship Program awards 23 individual $1,000 scholarships, four $2,500 scholarships, two $5,000 scholarships, and one $10,000 scholarship to candidates studying accounting or finance with a criminal justice focus. Applicants should submit an application form, a transcript, and two letters of recommendation. Qualifying students must be enrolled in at least nine credit hours at a four-year university.

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Scholarship for Minority Students

This AICPA initiative has awarded more than $14 million to around 8,000 minority accounting scholars over the past 40 years. Students must fill out an application form to apply for the $5,000 renewable scholarship. Candidates are judged according to academic performance, leadership skills, volunteerism, and intent to pursue the CPA credential. Qualifying students must possess a minimum 3.0 GPA and U.S. citizenship.

AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship

AICPA also awards the John L. Carey Scholarship to liberal arts students transitioning to a graduate-level accounting program. Eligible applicants must possess U.S. citizen or permanent resident status, enroll in an AACSB-accredited program, and commit to earning CPA certification. Every year, up to five candidates are chosen by a selection committee to receive the $5,000, non-renewable award.

AICPA Two-Year Transfer Scholarship

This $5,000, non-renewable scholarship is intended for students at two-year universities who intend to transfer to a four-year accounting program. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, demonstrate financial need, and plan to enroll in an AACSB or ACBSP-accredited accounting program. Candidates must also commit to pursuing CPA licensure. The organization awards 25 individual two-year transfer scholarships each year.

The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Scholarships

The EFWA provides several different scholarships for women pursuing undergraduate accounting studies. The $16,000 Women in Transition and the $4,000 Women in Need Scholarships are both intended for female students earning a bachelor’s in accounting who serve as their family’s primary source of income. The organization also awards the $4,000 Moss Adams Foundation Scholarship to minority women, the $4,000 Michele L. McDonald Memorial Scholarship to women returning to the workforce after raising children, and the $2,000 Rhonda J.B. O’Leary Memorial Scholarship to women in Washington state.

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