Accounting is already one of the top-paying careers with a master’s degree, but the demand for forensic accountants is growing. With consistently changing economic conditions and more regulatory measures coming down the pipeline on how companies are governed, forensic accountants are needed to detect fraudulent behavior within business operations. Most people don’t realize the level of expertise a forensic accountant has. In fact, they go beyond basic accounting, working behind the scenes to help companies prevent and detect fraud.
Forensic accountants are the specialists called when there are financial breaches, or inconsistencies within the organization. A forensic accountant is able to examine, dissect and pinpoint where these issues are occurring. A highly specialized position, forensic accountants are the detectives of the financial industry. For working accountants, an online MAcc or other forensic accounting masters’s degree is the key to higher pay and authority.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Master’s in Forensic Accounting Online
For working accountants who want to become forensic experts, there are two paths – a MAcc with a forensic specialization, or adding a forensic certificate to an existing accounting degree. Best Master’s Programs editors have ranked the best master’s degree in forensic accounting online programs according to three factors: Cost, Reputation, and Salary Potential. This combination helps students feel confident that their degree will pay off.
1. CSU Global
When you are looking for a masters in forensic accounting online, you may want to consider the Master’s in Professional Accounting with a concentration on Fraud Investigation and Forensic Accounting from CSU Global. The degree focuses on the fundamental skills used in accounting for businesses and individuals. It also delves into the challenges associated with identifying tax fraud or related accounting fraud and gathering evidence of a crime.
A key way CSU Global stands apart from other programs is the focus on fundamental skills in accounting that allow students to recognize signs of fraud. Gives students a strong foundation and builds on their knowledge to ensure that students are able to investigate crimes and gather data for accurate results. Students can feel confident in their abilities when working with a law firm, investigative agency, or in a forensic field. The degree from CSU Global is accredited by the ACBSP, so employers are confident in the high standards of the program.
Degree: Master’s in Professional Accounting – Fraud Investigation and Forensic Accounting
2. University of Colorado Denver
The University of Colorado Denver offers a masters degree in forensic accounting online that helps students accomplish their long-term goals for a career. The degree program focuses on auditing to teach students the skills they need to work in law offices or police departments to identify and provide evidence of fraud or problems. It also helps accountants who want to identify risks of auditing from mistakes made on tax forms.
The University of Colorado Denver differs from other schools by focusing on preparing students for their future. The school prepares students for the CPA examination and ensures that students are ready to take on a career in criminal investigation. It also provides students with the opportunity to network and meet professionals in appropriate agencies or positions for their long-term goals. The University of Colorado Denver is AACSB accredited and it is one of only 2 percent of accounting programs that qualify for the accreditation.
Degree: MS in Accounting – Auditing concentration
3. University of Scranton
The University of Scranton offers a MAcc with a forensic specialization that allows accounting students to focus on developing their criminal investigation skills as it applies to accounting. The degree program teaches students to recognize fraud, audit tax documents, and conduct an analysis to determine if a crime was committed by a company or an individual. The focus on investigative skills helps students develop the ability to handle potential concerns that may arise when working in their field.
The University of Scranton focuses on hands-on skills to prepare students for the challenges of their careers in accounting. The degree program ensures that students are able to recognize signs of a concern and are able to gather evidence of a crime. It also ensures that students are prepared for the challenges of the CPA examination and their work as an accountant when they move into their careers. The University of Scranton takes a Jesuit approach to education and is AACSB accredited to give students confidence in the high standards of the university.
Degree: MAcc – Forensic specialization
4. Northeastern University
Northeastern University offers a certificate in forensic accounting that students can add to their graduate degree in accounting to develop specialized skills in their field of study. The certificate is an additional part of the overall accounting degree and it focuses on enhancing and developing useful skills while students are studying for their CPA and their master’s degree.
A key way Northeastern University differs is their approach to specialized skills in accounting. The school offers a graduate certificate rather than a concentration on the field of study. That means students are taking accounting courses and learning the skills they need as an accountant to gain a strong foundation in their field. They then enhance and improve their skills through certification that gives them an opportunity to focus on their personal goals. Students can start the certification at four different times in the year and work online when it fits their schedule.
Degree: Certificate in Forensic Accounting
5. Golden Gate University
Golden Gate University offers a masters in forensic accounting online that prepares students for the challenges of auditing and forensic analysis to ensure they are ready for their careers. The primary curriculum in the degree program focuses on providing a foundation in accounting. Students prepare for the CPA or the CMA examination, which offers a long-term solution for career objectives. They are able to specialize in forensic accounting to gain the skills they need for work in law enforcement.
Golden Gate University recognizes the importance of flexibility for working adults. That is why the online program focuses on flexibility and allows students to work at their own pace. The school recognizes that students may need to network as part of their long-term plans, so it offers an Accounting Career Fair each year to connect students witih potential employers. The average class size for the accounting program at Golden Gate University is 14 students, which ensures that students are able to reach out to professors for help when concerns arise.
Degree: MAcc – Forensic Accounting
6. West Virginia University
West Virginia University offers an MS in Forensic and Fraud Examination degree program for students who want to find a masters degree in forensic accounting online. The degree program encourages students to take MBA classes as well as accounting classes for a well-rounded view of the topic and a strong foundation in different ways accounting is used in business. The fundamental knowledge helps students identify potential fraud and analyze data for accurate results.
West Virginia University focuses on providing students with an education that is approved by the Department of Justice for excellence and skill. The online program prepares students for the rigors of working in a federal law enforcement agency or a related field. It provides a strong foundation in accounting, business, and auditing to ensure that students are able to recognize signs of fraud and related problems. The degree from West Virginia University allows students to accelerate their courses and finish the program in 12 months.
Degree: MS in Forensic and Fraud Examination
7. Stevenson University
Stevenson University offers an MS in Forensic Accounting online that focuses on quality education. The school has a long history of excellence and it started providing students with degrees in accounting in 1947. Since the school’s founding, it has focused on ensuring that students are prepared for the rigors of working in their fields of study and it continues to focus on high-standards for the online master’s in forensic accounting program.
A key way Stevenson University differs from other programs is the Student Success Coaches. The school encourages students to reach their goals and offers insight through coaches who help students decide on a course of action that fits their goals. The one-on-one coaching allows students to ask questions and get advice when moving through different stages of their education and course material. Stevenson University does not require students to submit a GRE score when applying for the online degree program.
Degree: MS in Forensic Accounting
8. Regis University
Regis University offers a master’s in accounting with a concentration in fraud and forensic specialization. The degree program puts a strong emphasis on ethics and high ethical standards to ensure that students are ready for the challenges associated with working in a law enforcement field. It also gives students a clear understanding of how to identify and analyze data for fraud or related crimes in accounting.
Regis University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission for its accounting master’s degree program. The accreditation ensures that the school meets high standards for accounting and gives students in the online program peace of mind in relation to employer expectations. Students can expect a well-rounded education in the program as it relates to accounting, ethics, and business. Regis University is ranked among the top Western Regional Universities by U.S. News and World Reports.
Degree: MS in Accounting – Fraud and Forensic Specialization
9. Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University offers an Executive Masters in Forensic Accounting to students who want to work as a forensic accountant with law enforcement or a legal firm. The accounting degree program allows students to take courses online, on-campus, or through a hybrid online program. That flexibility works around the needs of students and ensures that students are able to focus on accomplishing their long-term goals for a career.
The way Florida Atlantic University stands out is through its use of technological tools to enhance student experiences. The school recognizes the value of technology in accounting and fraud analysis, so it teaches students to use up-to-date tools as part of their forensic studies. That allows students to recognize modern forms of fraud and gather appropriate evidence for a case. Florida Atlantic University is AACSB-accredited and it meets the high standards set by the accrediting organization for excellence in education.
Degree: Executive MAcc – Forensic Accounting
10. Florida Institute of Technology
The Florida Institute of Technology offers a master’s in accounting and financial forensics that prepares students for the challenges of modern forensic accounting. The degree program recognizes the risks associated with modern technology and tools that may impact fraud and criminal cases associated with business. It prepares students to handle the potential concerns that may arise and ensures that they also know the basic skills used for non-criminal investigation.
A key way the Florida Institute of Technology differs from other programs is its focus on preparing students for the realities of their careers. It does not only ensure that students know how to recognize cybercrimes, tax fraud, and traditional accounting crimes. It also teaches students non-criminal investigation skills to help businesses through valuation and related services. That allows a student to develop specialized skills based on his or her goals. The Florida Institute of Technology prepares students for the CPA examination during their online master’s degree studies.
Degree: MS in Accounting and Financial Forensics
11. SUNY Polytechnic Institute
The SUNY Polytechnic Institute offers an MS in Accounting with a concentration on forensic accounting. The degree program is a fully online program that focuses on accommodating the needs of students. It offers part-time and full-time course materials through a flexible online format that allows students to work at a pace that fits their lifestyle, work schedule, and personal needs.
A key way the SUNY Polytechnic Institute stands apart from other programs is the high standards set by the school. It ensures that students meet the qualification standards in New York to obtain a license and work as a forensic accountant. The school does prefer for students to have an undergraduate degree in accounting before starting the program; however, it will accept students with other undergraduate degrees if they meet the prerequisite requirements for the program. The SUNY Polytechnic Institute is an AACSB-accredited program and it meets the standards set by the organization for its online accounting degree.
Degree: MS in Accounting – Forensic Accounting
12. Montclair State University
Montclair State University offers a MS in Accounting that allows students to develop the skills they need for a career in forensic accounting. The graduate certificate in forensic accounting through the school offers the specialized training students need to focus on their career and develop the skills they need for fraud analysis, accounting investigations, and related skills.
Montclair State University offers a combination of an accounting degree with a certification in forensic accounting. That means students are able to enhance their skills as an accountant and build up their ability to handle investigative situations. It allows students greater flexibility in their career opportunities by ensuring that students know the fundamental skills in accounting they need for a CPA, but also have the ability to work in forensics. Montclair State University offers up-to-date strategies to keep up with changing technology as it relates to accounting and forensic investigations.
Degree: MS in Accounting – Certificate in Forensic Accounting
13. Liberty University
Liberty University offers an MS in Accounting with a concentration on forensics. The degree program is a fully online program that allows students to accelerate their studies through eight-week courses. That means students can complete their degree in a short amount of time and move forward with their long-term goals as a forensic accountant.
Liberty University focuses on preparing students for the rigors of working in modern forensic accounting positions. It ensures that students recognize signs of a concern and are able to investigate a crime. It also uses real-world examples in the online program to ensure that students know how to apply their knowledge in a business environment. Liberty University allows students to transfer up to 50 percent of the credits to graduate from other colleges or universities.
Degree: MS in Accounting – Forensic
14. La Salle University
When you are looking for a masters in forensic accounting online that helps with your long-term goals, then the MS in Economic Crime Forensics from La Salle University is a good option for your goals. The online degree program allows students to study two areas of forensic accounting: Network Security and Corporate Fraud. The specialized focus of the degree program ensures that students are able to take on a career in their preferred area of interest.
A key way La Salle University differs from other online programs is the focus on theory and its application to real-world situations. It works with modern tools and ensures that students are prepared for the fast changes that may arise with new technology. The program focuses on combining traditional accounting forensics with modern technology to address the way fraud changes over time. La Salle University is the only school in Eastern Pennsylvania to offer a forensic accounting degree program.
Degree: MS in Economic Crime Forensics
15. Gardner-Webb University
Gardner-Webb University offers a master’s in accounting with an auditing emphasis that prepares students for the challenges of working in forensic accounting. The online degree program focuses on developing technical skills to take on the challenges of auditing and forensic investigation. The school focuses on applying theories and ideas to the real-world setting of a corporate or legal environment.
The way Gardner-Webb University differs from other programs is the focus on the application of accounting skills in different settings and environments. It recognizes that students may work in a corporate setting to identify potential concerns as an accountant or a legal setting with a focus on auditing businesses to ensure there is no risk of fraud or related crimes. That focus on the application of skills ensures that students are ready for the rigors of working in a fast-paced environment. Gardner-Webb University meets the standards of education required for students to take the Uniform Certified Public Accounting Examination in North Carolina.
Degree: MAcc – Auditing emphasis
16. Western New England University
Western New England University offers a masters degree in forensic accounting online that prepares students for a career in law enforcement or a corporate setting. The MS in Accounting with a concentration in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Investigation focuses on developing analytical skills and investigative skills as it applies to fraud and criminal investigations, as well as audit risks in a corporate setting.
Western New England University differs from other programs by training students in litigation support, fraud investigation, and general forensic accounting. It offers the specialized skills students need to focus on a career in a growing field. It also provides a strong foundation in accounting that allows students to focus on a variety of career opportunities. Western New England University is AACSB-accredited and meets high standards for education in accounting.
Degree: MS in Accounting – Forensic Accounting/Fraud Investigation concentration
17. Rider University
Rider University offers a masters degree in forensic accounting online that prepares students for the challenges of working in a growing field. The Fraud and Forensic Accounting degree requires students to develop a strong foundation in accounting before moving into specialized studies into criminal investigation, fraud, and valuation investigation. It gives students an opportunity to focus on a variety of fields for their careers.
Rider University stands apart from other programs by preparing students for a variety of career paths. It gives students the foundation they need to take on work in a government role, financial services position, or a corporate setting. The flexibility available to students for their career ensures that students are able to handle a variety of different situations. Rider University prepares students for the CPA examination and ensure that they meet the minimum prerequisites to take the exam.
Degree: MAcc – Fraud and Forensic Accounting
18. New England College of Business
The New England College of Business offers a Masters in Business Ethics with a concentration in Forensic Accounting that prepares students for their long-term goals. The degree program gives students a well-rounded view of accounting as it applies to business. It recognizes the role of accounting in business and corporate settings, and provides students with a strong foundation in accounting and ethics to help with their career goals.
The New England College of Business differs from other online programs by developing a student’s ability to recognize signs of fraud and criminal activities in a business. It ensures that students are able to recognize the problems and take measures to prevent losses to a corporation or business from the criminal activities. It focuses on the way fraud may impact a company and provides students with the skills to handle the potential concerns that may arise. The New England College of Business requires students to complete a Capstone project as part of their degree.
Degree: Master’s in Business Ethics – Forensic Accounting
19. Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University offers a masters in forensic accounting online that teaches students to address legal concerns in a corporate or business setting. The online masters in accounting with a concentration in forensic accounting teaches students how to identify white-collar crimes through audits and investigations. It also teaches students the skills they need to handle complicated transactions within a business or corporate setting.
A key way Southern New Hampshire University stands apart from other programs is the focus on complicated transactions in business. The program teaches students to handle the challenges of a merger or acquisition as well as the signs that a company may need to file for bankruptcy. The recognition that a forensic accountant may take on roles that do not relate to law enforcement ensures that students have more opportunities for their long-term plans. Southern New Hampshire University allows students to finish their master’s degree in 15 months through an accelerated program.
Degree: Online MS in Accounting, Forensic Accounting Concentration
20. Roosevelt University
Roosevelt University prepares students to take on the challenges of working in forensic accounting roles. Roosevelt’s MS in Accounting Forensics focuses on ensuring that students are able to identify and recognize the accuracy of data in a corporation or business. It teaches students the investigative skills they need to catch and analyze potential concerns, as well as methods of handling audits in different settings and environments.
A key way Roosevelt University stands out from other programs is the focus on flexibility. The school offers online and on-campus classes to allow students to work on their degree when it fits their situation and goals. The online program recognizes that working adults may have limitations to their time and it ensures that they are able to take classes based on their own schedule and situation. Roosevelt University is the third most diverse school in the Midwest according to U.S. News and World Reports, so students are able to discuss topics with a variety of others who have different perspectives and backgrounds.
Degree: MS in Accounting Forensics
21. Carlow University
Carlow University offers a fully online MS in Fraud and Forensics that prepares students for the challenges of working in forensic accounting positions. The degree program teaches students the strategies that businesses can employ to prevent fraud or white-collar crime, as well as methods of investigation and solving crimes. It focuses primarily on the forensic aspects of accounting and preventative solutions.
Carlow University differs from other programs by offering accelerated courses. Students can complete the degree program in one year, which allows them to focus on developing the skills they need to advance in their careers. As an online program, students can expect flexibility in relation to their classes and course material that works around personal obligations and work responsibilities. Carlow University does not require a GRE or a GMAT for students who plan to take the MS in Fraud and Forensics degree program.
Degree: MS in Fraud and Forensics
22. Bay Path University
Bay Path University offers a MS in Accounting with a concentration in Forensic Accounting that prepares students for the situations they will face during accounting investigations. It teaches students the investigative skills they need to identify and analyze potential crimes, as well as to clarify the value of a business or identify signs that a business may need to file for bankruptcy.
Bay Path University stands out by offering individualized advice and coaching for student careers. The focus on ensuring that students are getting the right advice about their course material to help with their career goals ensures that students will not waste time on unnecessary courses. It gives students the assistance and support they need for their long-term plans. Bay Path University allows students to start the online classes five times throughout the year and students can complete their degree in 8 to 9 months.
Degree: MS in Accounting
23. University of Detroit Mercy
The University of Detroit Mercy offers a Forensic Accounting Graduate Certificate that prepares students for a career in forensic accounting. The certification adds to student qualifications and enhances knowledge of accounting with a focus on forensics. It teaches students the use of information technology as it applies to accounting, as well as the misuse of technology to commit crimes. It also teaches students how to identify and investigate a crime.
The University of Detroit Mercy offers flexible solutions for students who may be working. The online degree program allows students to take classes at night or when they have time. It also gives students the opportunity to take credit hours that start as a single credit hour through part-time and full-time strategies. It is possible to finish the certificate in a short amount of time with a full-time schedule or to slow down and finish at a slower pace. The University of Detroit Mercy is among the top schools for the CPA pass rate when compared to other schools with a similar size student body.
Degree: Forensic Accounting Graduate Certificate
24. Davenport University
Davenport University offers a master’s degree in Fraud Exam and Auditing that prepares students for a career in forensic accounting. The degree focuses on teaching students to recognize fraud at different levels and to investigate a crime to identify the individual or group involved in the crime. The program also ensures that students are able to perform internal audits in a business and develop recommendations to improve a company’s outcomes over time. It helps a company prevent white-collar crimes.
A key way Davenport University differs from other programs is the focus on core competency. The online program ensures that students are prepared for the rigors of working in an accounting career. It provides students with a strong foundation in accounting before moving into more specialized fields. That gives students more options for their career after graduation. Davenport University is IACBE-accredited under the category of Special Accounting Accreditation.
Degree: MAcc – Fraud Exam and Auditing
25. New England College
New England College offers a Master’s in Accounting with a concentration in Forensic Accounting. The interdisciplinary approach used by the school helps students gain a full understanding of the potential risks of fraud and white-collar crime, as well as methods of detecting crime. That allows students to develop the skills they need to handle the challenges that may arise in a corporate or business setting.
A key way New England College differs from other programs is the focus on leadership as it applies to forensic accounting. The school takes an interdisciplinary approach to study that provides students with a strong foundation in leadership and accounting. It also ensures that students know how to approach an investigation and report for litigation for long-term success as an accountant. New England College offers a generous transfer program for active-duty and veteran servicemen and women in the military and it accepts military experience for credit in the online program.
Degree: MS in Accounting – Forensic
Will Employers Trust an Online Accounting Degree?
Yes. Individuals who have received an online accounting degree from an accredited program that has recognition from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) in forensic accounting accreditation gives employers the confidence to trust students matriculating through these programs. Taking the time to get an accounting degree takes a certain level of dedication that does not go unnoticed by employers. For students who obtain their degree online, they understand the challenges that may occur not being in a traditional classroom setting.
With technology being at the forefront of how businesses operate, employers embrace those who choose to attend online programs as an alternative to gaining additional credentials that are useful to their progression within their current industry, or in gaining new skills to move into a different career path. Technology makes it easier for students to choose an institution that not only offers what they need, but may have a better reputation within the industry.
There are a number of online accounting degree programs from some of the top universities in the nation. Obtaining a degree from an accredited institution of this nature adds credibility and integrity for the school, the student, and eventually the employer. In the modern work climate, the need for flexibility in obtaining a degree of choice is needed. These programs provided the foundation and backing to be competitive in the workforce.
Can I Just Get a Forensic Accounting Certificate?
Yes, if you already have a master’s degree, you can obtain a forensic accounting certificate by participating in one of the online forensic accounting certificate programs. There are many different forensic accounting certificate programs that cater to students wanting to focus on this area. Obtaining a certificate in forensic accounting online that is accredited holds the same qualifications as one done in person. Individuals who work in the field and have demanding careers are good candidates for online forensic accounting certificate programs.
The forensic accounting certificate usually consists of 12 or 15 credits with the following coursework: Fraud Detection; Fraud and the Law; Advanced Topics in Fraud; Business Valuation; and Corporate Governance and Ethics. For individuals who have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, this certificate can be used to qualify for a CPA license.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) also offers a Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) credential to CPAs who meet certain requirements, as well as the American College of Forensic Examiners International (ACFEI). Students should have the foundation of a forensic accounting certificate program to obtain the skills and knowledge to successfully complete the requirements.
Are Forensic Accountants in Demand?
Almost all forensic accountants are CPAs. There are benefits to becoming a Certified Forensic Accountant. Individuals with this designation will enhance their personal reputation while demonstrating a high level of knowledge, skills, and commitment to the field. In many cases, this is a differentiator in a competitive job market, and meets employer qualifications. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for forensic accountants jobs is expected to rise 10% through 2028. This means the number of accountant positions available will exceed the national average over the next decade. As a specialty area, the need for forensic accountants will also rise.
How Much Does a Forensic Accountant Make?
A forensic accounting salary can vary, depending on the number of years the person has been in the field, and the area in which they live. An average forensic accountant salary is $66,311 per year. When inquiring how much do forensic accountants make, at the maximum, they could make over $100,000 per year. Education and market play a huge role in the salary of a forensic accountant, and their worth steadily increases over time. Depending on the company, an accountant could make a lot more by having this specialty niche expertise.
Individuals who are interested in this career path may make more money working independently in their own firms, or as a consultant. With the demand for accountants being so high and fraud being so prevalent, the opportunities and salary demands for forensic accountants will become a major selling point in the near future.