Best Forensic Accounting Degrees of 2022

Updated September 26, 2022

A degree in forensic accounting gives you the skills to root out financial wrongdoing. If you're good with numbers and interested in investigations, this degree may be right for you.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

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Forensic accounting is a subset of the larger field of accounting, one that focuses on rooting out financial fraud. A degree in forensic accounting includes coursework in accounting but emphasizes aspects of criminal justice.

Forensic accounting degree programs also teach quantitative analysis, training learners to investigate and identify incidents of money mismanagement.

Despite recent declines in undergraduate enrollment, by 2030 the National Center for Education Statistics projects an 8% increase in students seeking bachelor's degrees. With more people attending college, the competition on the employment landscape looks to increase as well.

Finding the right forensic accounting degree is the first step. The future of forensic accounting, according to The CPA Journal, focuses on technology, interpersonal skills, international accounting, and valuation.

These rankings can help you find the best forensic accounting degree for you.

Why Get a Forensic Accounting Bachelor's Degree?

  • Gain specialized skills: A degree in forensic accounting gives you skills in the field. By focusing on an aspect of accounting, you demonstrate expertise to potential employers. An accountant without training in forensics might have more difficulty carrying out the examinations and investigations required to detect financial wrongdoing.
  • Increase earning potential: A forensic accountant can work in a variety of settings — accounting firms and financial institutions, government agencies, law firms, and law enforcement entities. This expands career opportunities and earning potential. According to Payscale, general accountants earn average base salaries of just over $52,000 while forensic accountants take home nearly $72,000 annually.
  • Enter an exciting field: Forensic accountants investigate fraud and other financial crimes, adding intrigue to traditional accounting practices. As part of a team bringing criminals to justice, a career in forensic accounting can be both exciting and rewarding.

What Does a Forensic Accounting Program Entail?

A forensic accounting degree consists of roughly 120 credit hours. Full-time students earn a degree in about four years, while part-time learners take as many as eight. An online option may allow you to earn a degree on an accelerated timeline.

Alongside general education classes, foundational courses in a forensic accounting degree build understanding of accounting, finance, and taxation practices and processes.

As you move through the curriculum, classes in criminology, forensics, and law train you to apply rules and regulations to accounting practices.

Forensic accounting degrees also explore the intricacies of ethics, auditing, and financial reporting. Additional mathematics, computer science, and quantitative research coursework hone your analytical skills.

At the end of a bachelor's degree in forensic accounting, you should possess the skills to pursue credentials in fraud examination or similar roles.

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Degree, Concentration, and Format Options

While much of the coursework is the same across forensic accounting degree curriculum, the names of the programs, formats, and concentration options may vary.

A bachelor of arts in forensic accounting emphasizes the humanities, but a bachelor of science in forensic accounting includes additional classes in science, mathematics, and technology.

Some bachelor's degrees in forensic accounting are actually accounting programs with forensic accounting specializations. In this instance, make sure the curriculum provides you with enough information to meet the qualifications for a professional forensic accountant.

Online forensic accounting degrees may be asynchronous or synchronous. The former allows you to study at your own pace, while the latter may include students who complete classes in a predetermined order and meet at set class times.

Additional options may include accelerated degrees that last as few as three years, or combined bachelor's-to-master's programs that span five years.

Should You Get a Forensic Accounting Bachelor's or a General Accounting Bachelor's?

Much of the coursework in a forensic accounting degree resembles a general accounting degree. The similarities between the two programs can be confusing. The table below breaks down a few factors.

Comparing Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting and Accounting
Key Factor Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Bachelor's in Accounting
Program Length Four years Four years
Coursework 120 credit hours 120 credit hours
Focus Traditional accounting coursework with classes in criminal justice, computer forensics, finance law, and quantitative research. Foundational accounting coursework, advanced classes in specific aspects of the field. Coursework may include forensics but not as deeply as a forensic accounting degree.
Internship or Practical Requirement An internship or practicum within a forensic accounting degree might take place at an accounting firm, a law enforcement agency, or within a government institution. Practical requirements for accounting traditionally take place at financial businesses and accounting firms.
Credential Preparation Coursework can help you prepare for certification in fraud examination and auditing. It can also count toward certified public accounting qualifications. Coursework may prepare you for certifications in financial analysis, managerial accounting, or be a pathway to becoming a certified public accountant.
Career Outcomes Potential careers include forensic accountant, fraud examiner, fraud investigator, auditor, financial security and risk management specialist Potential careers include account manager, financial planner, financial advisor, budget analyst, accountant

Admissions Process

Applying to most bachelor's degrees requires submitting high school transcripts, documentation from any previous college coursework, and ACT or SAT scores. Some schools require letters of recommendation and essays as part of the application process.

The Common App allows you to keep your materials in one location, making applying to schools more convenient. The Common App is free, but many schools have application fees. Fee waivers may exist for eligible applicants.

Admission to forensic accountant degree programs often does not require previous coursework or work experience, but both may help your chances of acceptance.

Popular Forensic Accounting Undergraduate Courses

Specific coursework for forensic accounting degrees varies. Core classes emphasize the fundamentals of forensic accounting, while electives explore aspects of the field that interest you the most.

Capstone requirements let you bring together everything you learned in a final project or paper.

  • Accounting Principles: A class in general accounting principles introduces accounting concepts and terms, financial statement preparation and analysis, and the accounting workflow. Students learn about accounting theories alongside standards of practice for accounting professionals. Additional topics include business transaction and accounting ethics.
  • Foundations of Auditing and Assurance Services: Designed to introduce objectives, stages, and outcomes associated with auditing financial statements, this class trains learners to apply auditing standards and regulations. Foundations of auditing and assurance services coursework explores internal and external auditing. Additional topics include auditing evidence, risk, and ethics.
  • Digital and Computer Forensics: Digital and computer forensic coursework teaches the tools and technologies used in forensic accounting. Students learn when, how, and why to perform different techniques and procedures during investigations. Topics include data acquisition, volume analysis, document analysis, and email forensics.
  • Fraud Examination: By emphasizing methodologies, concepts, and skills of fraud examination, coursework covers fraud prevention and detection, elements of fraud examination, investigative techniques, and fraud regulations. Practical exercises accompany lectures and research activities. Students train to detect, analyze, and solve financial crimes.

How Much Do Forensic Accounting Bachelor's Programs Cost?

Forensic accounting bachelor's programs vary in cost. The reputation of a school may influence tuition. Public institutions often have lower tuition than their private counterparts, but resident and nonresident costs may factor in.

Many online schools offer the same tuition for resident and nonresident students. Consider housing, books, fees, and commuting costs when choosing your forensic accounting program.

Financial aid is important regardless of the school you attend. When applying to a forensic accounting program, fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid to assess your eligibility for scholarships, grants, and loans. Learn more below.

Should You Get Your Degree Online?

Forensic accounting degrees offered online accommodate traditional students, adult learners, and working professionals who go back to school. As a degree that integrates lectures, hands-on activities, and projects into the curriculum, forensics accounting programs are particularly suited to the online learning experience.

Many factors determine whether or not an online degree is right for you. Online learning is more flexible, but requires time management and self-motivation. Interactions with classmates and instructors may be written-only, which can be frustrating and isolating for some learners.

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Forensic Accounting Jobs and Salaries

Earning a forensic accounting degree prepares you for careers in accounting, auditing, law enforcement, and public service. Education and experience influence career opportunities and earning potential.

Entry-level forensic accountants earn over $59,000 annually, according to May 2022 Payscale data, while experienced forensic accountants earn more than $100,000 each year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 7% growth in employment for accountants and auditors from 2020- 2030, adding over 100,000 new positions.

Forensic Accountant

Forensic accountants investigate financial information to identify financial wrongdoing. They research and analyze account histories, financial statements, and transaction documentation, applying state and federal regulations as applicable. Forensic accountants prepare reports of their findings and may testify in court or participate in litigation.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): +7%
Average annual Salary (May 2022): $71,979

Source: BLS, Payscale

Forensic Auditor

Auditors assess financial operations, research and analyze financial documents, and help ensure efficacy and efficiency within an organization. Auditors may work internally for a company or organization, identifying ways to streamline financial processes. They ensure adherence to financial rules and regulations. External auditors come from outside an organization to review financial information, often reporting back to an overseeing body.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): +7%
Average Annual Salary (June 2022): $59,684

Source: BLS, Payscale

Digital Forensic Investigator

Digital forensic investigators retrieve and analyze materials from computers, phones, and other devices. They may specialize in forensic accounting and assess financial data on behalf of law enforcement and government agencies. Digital forensic investigators look for evidence of money mismanagement and financial crimes, reporting their findings to authorities.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): +7%
Average Annual Salary (June 2022): $66,698

Source: BLS, Payscale

Selecting the Right Undergraduate Program

Many things go into exploring options for a forensic accounting degree. Here are some key factors to think about as you choose the right undergraduate program for you:

  • Choose how many schools you want to apply for with an eye toward application fees.
  • Invest that fee money into quality programs that will help you in your future career.
  • Find out the accreditation status of the institution; see if any programmatic accreditations apply to the forensic accounting program.
  • Make sure you meet a school's admission criteria and apply for financial aid.
  • Faculty reputation, class size, and student-to-teacher ratio can all influence your degree experience.
  • If a program is online, look to see if the degree is offered asynchronously or synchronously. Find out if there are on-campus requirements.
  • Location matters for on-campus programs as do housing options, commuting expenses, and cost-of-living considerations for the area.
  • Check the program website to see if there are statements or comments from previous students and graduates. This can help you get a feel for the atmosphere at the school and in the program.
  • Look into the resources available to you during the degree and after you graduate. Career services and alumni networks can be beneficial.

Next Steps

After earning a forensic accounting degree, graduates can pursue job opportunities in their field, apply to graduate school, or prepare for certification examinations.

Enter the Workforce

A bachelor's degree in forensic accounting prepares graduates for careers as fraud examiners and forensic accountants. In these fields, forensic accounting majors apply their financial and investigative skills to uncover financial fraud.

Professional organizations can also help graduates identify job opportunities and enter the workforce after graduation.

Pursue a Master's Degree in Forensic Accounting

With a bachelor's in forensic accounting, graduates can go on to earn a master's degree. A master's degree can expand career options and lead to positions with increased responsibility and salary potential.

Graduates can earn a master's in accounting, forensic accounting, auditing, or fraud examination. Learn more about returning to school.

Certification

Forensic accountants can stand out on the job market by obtaining certification in a field like fraud examination. To obtain certification, candidates need to meet educational requirements, pass an examination, and complete continuing education credits to maintain their credentials.

Top Bachelor’s in Forensic Accounting Programs

The following list includes the top five forensic accounting programs of 2022. Some programs include forensic courses as a concentration option, while others include the classes as core accounting requirements. Review the programs below to find the right school to help launch your career.

Click on the link below to learn more about how we ranked these programs.

#1

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott

School Information
Location Prescott, Arizona
Admission Rate 66%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

ERAU dates back to the formation of the Embry-Riddle Company in 1925. Today, ERAU offers classes online and at locations worldwide. The Prescott, Arizona, residential campus houses the country's only College of Business, Security, and Intelligence. 

Bachelor of Science in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination

ERAU's forensic accounting and fraud examination degree offers students a hands-on education. Enrollees use the latest data visualization software in cyber and forensic science labs. 

Real-world experience, combined with a comprehensive curriculum, can prepare students to pursue several certifications. Graduates may take the certified management accountant exam or pursue certifications through the American Board of Forensic Accounting.

The program primarily prepares students to pursue certified fraud examiner certification. Enrollees learn about investigation, law, and fraud detection. Core classes include forensic psychology and fraud auditing.

Other courses cover foundational accounting and business topics. Students explore managerial accounting, marketing, and corporate finance. They also take classes on business analytics and accounting information systems. 

Applying to ERAU

Each candidate must complete an online application and submit transcripts or GED scores. Optional application materials include an essay, resume, and recommendation letters. Applicants may also send ACT/SAT and AP scores. ERAU charges a $50 application fee.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Tuition: $19,488/semester
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
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#2

Eastern Oregon University

School Information
Location La Grande, Oregon
Admission Rate 98%
Graduation Rate 27%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

EOU began in 1929 as a teacher's college. Since its founding, the university has operated on the values of discovery, altruism, and interdependence. The almost 2,900 enrollees can choose from over 37 programs, with more than 22 degrees available online. 

Accounting Major with a Concentration in Forensic Accounting

The accounting major at EOU includes 24 core classes, and students must earn at least a C- in each course. They begin with lower-division courses like financial accounting, business law, and macroeconomics. 

The upper-division courses immerse students in advanced accounting and business topics. Enrollees explore taxation, finance, and management. Other classes include forensic accounting and auditing services. 

EOU accounting students can choose between forensic and managerial accounting concentrations. The forensic accounting concentration includes five classes covering topics like white-collar crime and corporate governance. Students also explore fraud investigation interviewing techniques.

Applying to EOU

Each prospective enrollee must complete an application and pay $50. They submit transcripts demonstrating completion of high school prerequisites. EOU accepts all students with a 2.75 minimum GPA. Applicants submitting GED scores need at least a 680. Students can also present SAT or ACT scores, especially for scholarship considerations.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU); International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
  • Tuition: On campus: $174/credit (in-state and Western Undergraduate Exchange residents) or $456/credit (non-residents); online: $265/credit (in state) or $305/credit (out-of-state)
  • Required Credits: 180
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous or synchronous); on campus
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#3

Purdue University Global-Indianapolis

School Information
Location West Lafayette, Indiana
Graduation Rate 27%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Purdue Global forms part of the Indiana Purdue University system. It offers over 175 online programs to about 31,500 enrollees and specifically caters to adult learners. Students can earn credits for work experience, military training, and professional certifications.

Bachelor of Science in Accounting with an Auditing/Forensic Accountancy Concentration

The forensic accounting program at Purdue Global explores law, finance, and quantitative methods. Core courses include managerial accounting and federal tax. Students must also complete core economics and business math classes. 

Purdue Global offers four accounting concentration options:

  • Auditing/forensic accountancy
  • Managerial accountancy
  • Public accountancy
  • Tax accountancy

Each concentration includes an intermediate accounting III course, with the other two courses varying by concentration. Learners completing the forensic concentration take advanced accounting and advanced forensic accounting. 

The degree culminates in an accounting internship or capstone project. Students can complete virtual or onsite accounting internships. The capstone option allows enrollees to apply learned accounting topics in a final project.

Applying to Purdue Global

Anyone with a high school diploma, GED certificate, or home study certificate can apply to Purdue Global. High school seniors with set graduation dates may also apply. Each candidate must pass through an interview process before signing an enrollment agreement. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Tuition: $371/credit (out of state); $280 (in state)
  • Required Credits: 180 
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous with synchronous components)
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#4

Southern New Hampshire University

School Information
Location Manchester, New Hampshire
Admission Rate 88%
Graduation Rate 44%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

SNHU began as a business school focusing on accounting practices. Since its founding in 1932, the university has offered practical courses in a flexible study format. Students can select from hundreds of career-focused programs online or on campus.

Forensic Accounting Degree Online

SNHU's forensic accounting degree combines a business core with accounting courses. Students first complete foundational statistics and economics classes. Business classes explore financial accounting, law, and marketing. Other topics include managerial accounting and applied marketing. 

The accounting core covers intermediate and advanced accounting. Students also learn about federal taxation, business valuation, and cost accounting. Learners can choose six other accounting courses to fulfill elective requirements.

The forensic accounting and fraud examination concentration includes four courses. Enrollees explore legal aspects of fraud and auditing. They practice detecting fraudulent financial statements and interview techniques, which can help them prepare to pursue certified fraud examiner certification. 

Applying to SNHU

Each prospective student fills out a free online application and submits transcripts. Admissions counselors help applicants through the enrollment process. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE); Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Tuition: $320/credit
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
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#5

University of Northwestern Ohio

School Information
Location Lima, Ohio
Graduation Rate 60%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 21% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The UNOH campus sits on 200 acres in Lima, Ohio. It began in 1920 as a secretarial and accounting school. Today, UNOH offers more than 50 degree programs to about 4,000 students. They complete a practical education filled with real-world experiences. 

Forensic Accounting Program

The forensic accounting program at UNOH prepares enrollees to pursue certified fraud examiner certification. The 180-credit program covers topics like white-collar crime and fraud prevention. It also allows for 14 credits of electives.

Students take 24 core courses covering general and forensic accounting topics. Example courses include lean accounting, personal taxes, and managerial accounting. Other courses review accounting ethics and information systems. Each student completes an accounting capstone to graduate.

The forensic courses explore contract law and criminal law. Enrollees learn to investigate financial statements and interview for fraud. They also explore forensic accounting, litigation, and digital forensics.

Applying to UNOH

Each candidate completes a simple application form and pays $20. UNOH contacts them within one month. Upon acceptance, students complete placement exams. Individuals who meet SAT/ACT minimum score requirements are exempt.  

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $230/credit (on campus); $275/credit (online)
  • Required Credits: 180
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous or synchronous); on campus
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Top Online Accounting Bachelor's

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Common Questions About Forensic Accounting Degrees

What's the difference between a forensic accounting bachelor's and certification?

Offered by a college or university, a forensic accounting bachelor's degree includes four years of coursework in accounting, criminal justice, and quantitative research. A certification in forensic accounting comes from a professional body within the field and requires previous education and experience in the field.

How much does a forensic accounting bachelor's program cost?

The cost of a forensic accounting degree varies by institution. During the 2019-2020 academic year, the average undergraduate cost of attendance was $25,281, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Can you get a forensic accounting degree online?

You can get a forensic accounting degree online. Many schools offer forensic accounting degrees completely online or through a hybrid format. Online accounting degrees with forensic concentrations also exist.

Are forensic accountants in demand?

Forensic accountants are in demand. According to the BLS, accountants and auditors are projected to see 7% job growth from 2020 to 2030, adding nearly 100,000 new positions to the field.

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