Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Forensic Accounting 2022

Updated September 27, 2022 · 6 Min Read

An online bachelor's degree in forensic accounting could jumpstart your career. This guide explores the cost of this degree, career expectations, and earning potential.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

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An online forensic accounting degree delivers the advanced skills needed to investigate financial crimes, such as fraud, money laundering, and insider trading.

Graduates may also pursue positions in accounting, such as auditing, assurance services, and actuarial science.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 7% growth in accounting and auditing jobs from 2020-2030, keeping pace with the national average.

The rankings below provide detailed descriptions of the best online bachelor's in forensic accounting programs. This page also offers insight into the benefits and costs of these degrees, along with pathways to becoming a forensic accountant.

What Is Forensic Accounting?

Forensic accounting degree programs teach students to analyze financial data and identify fraudulent activity. Enrollees develop skills in obtaining and presenting evidence that can withstand scrutiny in a legal setting.

Common careers for forensic accounting professionals include forensic accounting, assurance services, and auditing. Many forensic accounting graduates find employment in law firms, government agencies, or insurance companies.

An online forensic accounting degree also meets the educational requirements for most entry-level accounting jobs, including financial examiner, financial analyst, and financial advisor. The degree provides 120 of the 150 credits required to sit for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam in most states.

Forensic accountants need strong analytic, inductive, and computational skills, along with close attention to detail. Some employers may prefer graduates with certified fraud examiner (CFE) licensure or certification in financial forensics (CFF).

CFE certification requires a bachelor's degree, two years of field experience, and membership with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). To remain current as a CFE, a professional must obtain 20 hours of continuing professional education annually and pay the ACFE dues.

CFF licensure requirements are more demanding. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants only provides this licensure to CPAs who have passed the CFF exam and possess a minimum of 1,000 hours of work experience in financial forensics within the past five years.

Top Online Programs

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

Why Get an Online Forensic Accounting Degree?

An online forensic accounting degree helps prepare students for higher-paying finance and accounting roles. CFF certification further increases earning potential.

Most online forensic accounting degree programs offer flexibility to students with professional or family commitments. Benefits of earning an online forensic accounting degree include:

  • Flexibility: Most online bachelor's in forensic accounting programs use asynchronous delivery methods, allowing enrollees to complete their degrees at their convenience.
  • CFF Certification: An online bachelor's in forensic accounting delivers 120 of the 150 credits required in most states to sit for the CPA exam. CPAs with at least 1,000 hours of work experience in forensic accounting in the preceding five years qualify for CFF certification.
  • High-Paying Career: The BLS reports a median annual pay of $77,250 for accountants and auditors in 2021, including forensic accountants. Meanwhile, the salary for CFF-certified accountants typically surpass that of a forensic accountant.

What to Expect From Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Programs

Earning an online bachelor's in forensic accounting requires 120 credits and takes four years of full-time study. Forensic accounting majors with prior associate degrees in accounting can typically transfer up to 60 credits toward their online bachelor's in forensic accounting, completing their degrees in two years.

Degree options vary by school. Available online forensic accounting degrees include a bachelor of accountancy (BAcc), a bachelor of science (BS), and a bachelor of business administration (BBA) in forensic accounting.

Applicants must submit transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, and other application materials. Some programs may waive the requirement for standardized test scores. A typical online bachelor's in forensic accounting curriculum includes general education, core, and concentration courses. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, (NCES) undergraduate tuition and fees for all institutions averaged $25,281 for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Admission Requirements

For admission into a forensic accounting degree program, applicants must hold a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Typical application materials include transcripts, letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, personal essays or answers to essay prompts, and a nonrefundable application fee.

Minimum GPA and standardized test scores vary by program, but many forensic accounting degree programs require a minimum 2.5-3.5 GPA. A prior associate degree or undergraduate certificate in accounting may increase the chance of admission to some programs.

Prospective forensic accounting majors can use Common App to apply to their schools of choice. This undergraduate college admission application allows candidates to submit application materials to multiple schools at once, with more than 900 colleges and universities participating in the service.

Degree Options

Available online forensic accounting degrees include a BAcc with a specialization in forensic accounting, a BS in forensic accounting, and BBA with a concentration in forensic accounting. These degree options require similar core courses, with a few differences. A BS requires more STEM courses than a BAcc or a BBA, while a BBA requires more business courses than a BAcc or a BS.

Schools that do not offer forensic accounting degrees or specializations may still provide similar programs, such as fraud examination, forensic auditing, and financial crime investigation.

Course options and requirements vary among programs. A specialization in financial crime investigation, for example, requires more criminal justice classes and fewer STEM courses than a traditional forensic accounting major.

Comparing General Accounting and Forensic Accounting Majors

A bachelor's degree in forensic accounting offers an alternative to a general accounting degree, providing students with general accounting prowess and specialized knowledge for financial crime investigation.

General bachelor's degrees in accounting appeal to prospective students interested in general accounting careers. A bachelor's in forensic accounting attracts potential learners hoping to secure jobs in financial investigation.

Forensic accounting and general accounting programs require the same number of credits and foundational accounting classes. However, they differ in focus, goal, and types of advanced and specialized courses. Below, we compare how forensic accounting programs typically stack up against general accounting programs.

Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Bachelor's in Accounting
Length Four years of full-time study Four years of full-time study
Credit Load 120 credits 120 credits
Focus Focuses on accounting fundamentals and forensic accounting theory and practice Focuses on general accounting theory and practice; many available specializations
Available Specializations Most programs offer forensic accounting as a concentration, rarely offering further specialization; students choose electives in specialty topics like financial cybercrime, securities fraud, and tax evasion. Most general bachelor's accounting programs offer specializations, including accounting information technology, actuarial science, and fiduciary accounting
Student Demographics Students with high school diplomas or associate degrees looking to pursue forensic accounting careers Students with high school diplomas or associate degrees who aim to pursue general accounting or business careers
Goal Prepare students for entry-level jobs or graduate degrees in forensic accounting Prepare learners for entry-level employment or graduate degrees in the accounting field

Popular Forensic Accounting Courses

A typical forensic accounting degree program delivers a combination of general accounting and forensic accounting classes. Some programs also require students to take capstone seminars. These culminating courses require learners to work individually or in teams to solve real-life or theoretical issues in forensic accounting.

Common courses in forensic accounting degree programs include:

In this class, learners acquire the analytic skills needed to ascertain a company's financial health, report findings to corporate leaders, and make recommendations for maximizing profits. Coursework explores cash flow analysis, trend analysis, and risk assessment.
Students learn to apply their financial analysis knowledge to verify financial reporting accuracy. The course also develops expertise in executing financial audits, along with detecting and reporting evidence of fraudulent activity.
Through practical experience, enrollees learn to apply statistical tools to analyze financial information and detect improbable transactions. Topics covered include discrete and continuous probability distributions, regression and correlation, and inferential data analysis.
Enrollees study how to detect and prevent financial fraud, such as payroll fraud, asset misappropriation, and consumer fraud. Learners also acquire advanced knowledge by interviewing witnesses, testifying in court, and obtaining evidence that meets legal standards.
Coursework explores the principles and techniques needed to investigate financial cybercrimes and obtain forensic evidence admissible in court. Degree-seekers also gain insight into investigating financial crimes on the dark web.

How Much Will a Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Cost?

The cost of a bachelor's in forensic accounting depends on the public or private status of an institution, whether students qualify for in-state tuition and the availability of online learning platforms.

The NCES reports that the cost of tuition and fees for a bachelor's at a public school averaged $18,837 for the 2019-2020 school year. The cost of tuition and fees at a private or nonprofit college averaged $45,570 that year.

Earning a forensic accounting degree online as an in-state resident at a public institution is typically the most cost-effective option.

Students can save on costs by transferring prior college credit and pursuing available financing options. Many forensic accounting degree programs consider eligible applicants for merit-based scholarships. Learners can also finance their forensic accounting degrees by applying for financial aid, student loans, or grants. The links below provide additional insight into financing options.

Top Online Programs

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

Forensic Accounting Jobs and Salaries

Graduates with online bachelor's degrees in forensic accounting can pursue careers in forensic accounting, financial examination, and securities investigation. These professionals can earn median annual salaries ranging from $77,000-$79,000 in 2021,

according to the BLS.

Forensic accounting professionals with CFF certification may earn a substantially higher salary. a href="https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Forensic_Accountant/Salary" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Payscale reports that experienced forensic accountants earn over $100,000 in average annual salary as of May 2022. Aspiring forensic accountants can also boost their career credentials by completing internships, pursuing graduate certificates, and earning master's degrees in forensic accounting.

Forensic Accounting

A forensic accountant investigates financial crimes, including insurance fraud, insider trading, and tax evasion. Typical job duties include identifying suspicious financial activity; locating and gaining access to relevant financial records; and interviewing suspects, victims, and witnesses.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree; some employers prefer to hire forensic accounting professionals with a CFF certification.
  • Average Annual Salary (May 2022): $71,970

Claims Investigator

Claim investigators handle insurance claims in which the company suspects fraudulent activity. Responsibilities include reviewing the circumstances of the claim; examining the background of claimants and witnesses; and obtaining statements from witnesses and experts.

  • Required Education: High-school diploma or equivalent; many employers preferentially hire applicants with bachelor's degrees and CPA or CFF certification.
  • Job Outlook (2020-30): -3%
  • Median Annual Salary: $64,710

Securities Investigator

These analysts investigate suspicious investment activities like insider trading, Ponzi schemes, and late-day trading. Typical job duties include remaining apprised of changes to financial regulations; examining investment and market movements to detect illicit investment activity; and obtaining evidence to prove suspicions.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2020-30): +18%
  • Median Annual Salary: $101,770

Financial Examiner

Financial examiners ensure organizational compliance with financial regulations. These professionals remain apprised of changes to finance laws; review financial records to ensure organizational compliance with legislation; and establish procedures and policies to reinforce regulatory compliance.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2020-30): +18%
  • Median Annual Salary: $81,410

Auditor

Auditors scrutinize financial records to identify potential errors and fraud. Typical job duties include calculating risks of fraud; examining financial statements for accuracy; and reporting errors, fraud, and mismanagement of funds to financial managers.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2020-30): +7%
  • Median Annual Salary: $77,250

Choosing the Right Forensic Accounting Program

Our rankings offer a strong starting place on your search for the right forensic accounting degree program, but aspiring forensic accountants should also consider other elements. Key factors include:

  • Regional Accreditation: Regional accreditation ensures that an institution meets rigorous educational standards, which employers value. This type of accreditation also qualifies credits for transfer to other regionally accredited schools.
  • School-Specific Accreditation: Business schools that hold accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business offer the most reputable forensic accounting degree programs.
  • Alumni Networks: The success of a program's alumni network provides another valuable marker of program quality and can offer a stepping stone to building a strong professional network. Before applying, prospective distance learners should ensure that each program maintains a strong alumni program.

Why You Should Get Your Forensic Accounting Degree Online

Earning a forensic accounting degree online rather than on campus offers several benefits. Distance learning programs typically cost less than in-person programs. By electing to learn remotely, students can also avoid expenses associated with on-campus housing, commuting, and parking.

Aspiring enrollees usually encounter online forensic accounting degrees in two formats. Synchronous learning requires students to attend real-time lectures and class discussions in a virtual classroom. This method thus provides an immersive online learning experience while still accommodating learners with work or family commitments.

An asynchronous format provides convenience and flexibility by allowing students to listen to pre-recorded lectures, contribute to online discussion boards, and complete assignments at their convenience. Online learners should keep in mind that they may fall behind in their courses without strong self-discipline and time management skills.

The Top Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Degrees

An online bachelor's in forensic accounting leads to lucrative careers in financial forensics, assurance services, and auditing. Use this guide to compare the four best 2022 programs, based on academic quality, reputation, and program availability. Learn how we develop our rankings here.

#1

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.

Established as a teacher's college in 1929, EOU has become an academic and cultural center for rural Oregon. Students can choose from over 30 academic programs in the humanities, sciences, education, and business.

BS/BA in Accounting-Forensic Accounting Concentration

EOU's forensic accounting degree gives distance learners the option of earning a bachelor of arts with a foreign language requirement or a bachelor of science with additional science credits. Both options provide a background in managerial and financial accounting, business, law, and macroeconomics, in addition to training in forensic accounting. The concentration emphasizes key issues, such as fraud control, corporate governance, and internal control systems. It also prepares graduates for the certified public accountant exam. 

Distance learners may choose to enroll part or full time, with an accelerated pathway to finish the degree in three years. The program accepts up to 135 quarter credits in transfer from previously attended schools. 

Applying to EOU

For applicants with fewer than 30 quarter credits, application requirements include a 2.75 high school GPA, and a 2.25 college GPA and official transcripts. Students planning to transfer more than 30 quarter credits must have a minimum 2.25 GPA. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU); International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
  • Tuition: $265 per credit 
  • Required Credits: 180 credits
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
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#2

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 serves more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 135,000 online learners. Established in 1932 as an accounting and secretarial school, SNHU has become one of the nation's fastest-growing universities, offering over 300 on-campus and online programs. 

BS in Accounting-Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination Concentration

SNHU's online bachelor's in forensic accounting and fraud examination trains students to analyze and investigate financial records to prevent fraud and combat cybercrime. The program provides students with the skills to enter traditional accounting and auditing careers. 

The 120-credit curriculum comprises general education requirements, core business and accounting courses, and 12 credits in the concentration in topics like forensic accounting, fraudulent financial statements, interview techniques and legal aspects of fraud, and computer investigation.

SNHU maintains its commitment to affordable and accessible education by accepting up to 90 transfer credits. The rolling admission policy enables new students to begin their studies throughout the year in six eight-week undergraduate terms.

Applying to SNHU

SNHU's streamlined admission process, free for all applicants, requires a transcript release for any previously attended schools and an electronic attestation form documenting completion of a high school diploma or GED certificate. The university does not require SAT or ACT scores. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditations: New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE); Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Tuition: $320 per credit
  • Required Credits: 120 credits 
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
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#3

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.

With a main campus in Lima, UNOH enrolls approximately 4,000 students in 50 programs across five colleges. The school also offers more than 20 distance learning programs. 

BS in Accounting-Forensic Accounting Concentration

The bachelor of science in accounting at UNOH features a forensic accounting concentration taught by experienced business and accounting professionals. Unlike other four-year accounting programs, this curriculum introduces students to accounting courses in the first quarter. 

This fully online degree covers all aspects of forensic accounting, focusing on the prevention and detection of illegal financial activity, such as embezzlement, securities fraud, and bribery. Students learn about white collar crime, obtaining documents for examination, and federal regulations relating to fraud and corporate governance. 

Distance learners have full access to all on-campus and online student services, including free email, advising, and one-on-one tutoring.

Applying to UNOH

Applicants to UNOH's undergraduate programs must have a high school diploma or GED certificate and submit official transcripts. Students have the option to submit SAT/ACT scores or arrange for placement tests. UNOH charges a $20 application fee.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $275 per credit 
  • Required Credits: 180 credits
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
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#4

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 University Global, the online-only arm of Purdue University, began in 2018 when Purdue University's Board of Trustees approved the acquisition of Kaplan University. The mission of Purdue Global is to extend affordable and accessible college education opportunities to adult learners. 

BS in Accounting-Auditing/Forensic Accounting Concentration

Purdue Global's online auditing/forensic accounting program prepares graduates for employment in a variety of organizations conducting financial, operational-efficiency, internal-control, and forensic and fraud audits. The fully online curriculum explores forensic accounting and fraud examination techniques and the use of computers in cybercrime. Students learn how to investigate asset misappropriation, assess financial statement fraud, and prepare evidence for legal proceedings. 

The program offers six start dates throughout the year, with courses delivered in ten-week terms. Distance learners may transfer credits from other schools toward up to 75% of their undergraduate degree. Purdue Global also awards credit for military service, prior work experience, and life experience, such as volunteer work. 

Applying to Purdue Global

Undergraduate applicants must be 18 years old with a high school diploma, GED certificate, or other approved equivalent that indicates date of completion. Purdue Global does not charge an application fee.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) 
  • Tuition: $371 per credit 
  • Required Credits: 180 credits
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
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Questions About Bachelor's Degrees in Forensic Accounting

How long does it take to get a degree in forensic accounting?

Students can complete bachelor's degrees in forensic accounting in four years of full-time study. Transferring prior college credits can shorten the duration of the degree. Part-time learners generally take two extra years to finish their degrees.

Which is better: a forensic accounting or general accounting degree?

The "better" degree aligns with your professional goals. A forensic accounting degree benefits candidates interested in careers in investigating crime. A general accounting degree best suits students who want to qualify for more positions in the accounting field.

What can I do with a forensic accounting degree?

With a forensic accounting degree, graduates qualify for further education in graduate programs, along with entry-level positions in forensic accounting, fraud examination, and financial crime investigation.

Do forensic accountants make good money?

Yes. The BLS reports a 2021 median annual wage of $77,250 for accountants and auditors, including forensic accountants. Those with professional certification as forensic accountants receive substantially higher pay.

How do you become a certified forensic accountant?

To become a CFA, you must obtain CPA licensure, earn certification in financial forensics, and possess 1,000 hours of work experience within the past five years.

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