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Forensic Accounting Degree

Accountants are responsible for making sure that company records are accurate and all pending taxes have been paid. These professionals may specialize in different fields including forensic accounting. Forensic accountants look through records and combine legal and investigative knowledge with accounting and finance expertise to identify those involved in financial wrongdoing. Due to increasing social and legal intolerance of fraudulent activities, the demand for forensic accountants is growing.

What forensic accountants do

Forensic accountants investigate and identify illegal activities by searching through records and financial transactions. They investigate various types of fraud, such as employee fraud, credit card fraud, criminals suspected of financial wrongdoing and more. Forensic accountants also gather information, develop financial profiles of individuals or groups suspected of illegal activities and prepare reports for clients.

Skills for forensic accountants

Forensic accountants must have good written and oral communication skills. This line of work also calls for strong research skills. In addition, these accountants should also be thorough in their work and be familiar with accounting and computer software.

Forensic Accounting Degree Programs

Of course, none of the abovementioned skills are of any use if an applicant for the forensic accountant position does not hold a college degree. A variety of accounting degree programs are available for those who want to become forensic accountants. Prospective forensic accountants may pursue associate, bachelor or master's programs in accounting or business.

Associate of Science Degree – Forensic Accounting

The degree would be ideal for those looking to apply for entry-level forensic accountant positions. An associate degree in accounting, including forensic accounting, is typically a 2-year, full-time, program, offered both traditionally in community colleges and online.

Typically a 60 credit hour degree, its curriculum is divided into fundamental and additional general education core requirement courses, accounting and business core courses, and electives.

Some of the accounting core courses may be titled as:

  • Fraud Examination
  • Intermediate Accounting I & II

Students may further choose from the following electives.

  • Corporate Governance & Internal Control Assessment
  • Legal Elements of Fraud
  • Interviewing Techniques for Fraud Investigations

Admission requirements for an associate degree offered by a community college usually need a high school diploma. However, you must contact the admission office for information. Admission requirements may vary with some institutes.

Bachelor of Science Degree – Forensic Accounting

On the FBI’s official website, a bachelor’s degree in accounting is listed as a desired education level for an individual wishing to work for the Bureau. Overall, a bachelor’s degree in accounting is an extension of an associate degree in accounting in which students learn more and gain better skills required for working as forensic accountants.

Typically a 120 credit hour degree that many full-time students earn in 4 years, its curriculum is divided along the same lines as an associate degree’s curriculum, mentioned above.

Accounting core courses may include:

  • Accounting Research & Analysis
  • Auditing
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Corporate Governance & Internal Control Assessment
  • Legal Elements of Fraud
  • Interviewing Techniques for Fraud Investigations
  • Fraud Examination
  • Intermediate Accounting I & II

Accounting electives may be offered as:

  • Quantitative Methods & Analysis
  • Foundations of Entrepreneurship
  • Independent Studies in Accounting
  • Special Topics in Accounting
  • Federal Income Tax I & II
  • Accounting Internship
  • Accounting Ethics & Professional Responsibilities
  • Government & Not For Profit Accounting
  • Cost Management

Admission requirements for a bachelor’s degree in forensic accounting will be more stringent. In addition to holding a high school diploma, an applicant may be expected to file the following:

  • Standardized scores (SAT/ACT)
  • TOEFL/IELTS scores (for international applicants only)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Essay
  • Resume
  • Statement of Purpose

However, an online bachelor’s degree in forensic accounting admission requirements may be less stringent.

Master of Science Degree - Forensic Accounting

This degree is for those accountants who already hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting and wish to specialize in forensic accounting.

The degree may consist of 30 credit hours that typically take 1-2 years to complete and is an amalgamation of post-graduate level courses in accounting, audit, and investigative and legal skills in the investigation, detection, and prevention of financial fraud and dispute resolution.

Some of the courses offered in the program are:

  • Digital Forensics
  • Auditing of Advanced Accounting Systems
  • Financial Statement Fraud & Corporate Governance
  • Statistical Methods for Forensic Accounting & Assurance
  • Research Seminar in Accounting
  • Fraud Examination
  • Advanced Management Accounting
  • Financial Statement Analysis

The admission requirements for this program, in addition to a bachelor’s degree, may include:

  • GRE/GMAT scores
  • TOEFL/IELTS (for international applicants)
  • All official transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Statement of purpose

Online Forensic Accounting Degree programs 

Students who wish to qualify as forensic accountants but cannot attend regular classes can acquire the necessary skills and knowledge by pursuing accounting degrees online. The distance-learning programs provide students with flexibility. Students may study remotely and earn a degree at their own pace.

The curriculum in the online programs may be similar to the coursework in programs offered at traditional colleges. Students in the online programs are provided with a variety of tools and technologies that may help them participate in group discussions, submit assignments, and communicate with class mates and instructors in an effective manner.

Career Outlook 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the demand for accountants is anticipated to grow by 13% from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Furthermore accountants earned a median salary of $63,550 on an annual basis in May 2012.

Forensic accountants can work in various settings such as accounting firms, law firms and law enforcement organizations. Many government agencies such as The FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also hire forensic accountants.

Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:What will be my responsibilities after acquiring forensic accounting degrees?

A:After acquiring a forensic accounting degree, you will be given the responsibility to conduct investigation on illegal activities by looking through records and financial transactions. You will need to investigate different types of frauds like employee fraud and credit card fraud. You will also gather information, carry out diligence reviews, and prepare reports for clients.

Q:Can you list some of the courses that I might have to study in a Forensic Accounting Degree?

A:A forensic accounting degree will consist of a whole list of subjects that give justice to the topic. Some examples of these subjects are: advanced management accounting, fraud examination, statistical methods for forensic accounting & assurance, financial statement fraud & corporate governance, auditing of advanced accounting systems, digital forensics, cost accounting, intermediate accounting, internal controls: proper design and detection, criminal investigative techniques and fraudulent financial reporting.

Q:What are the objectives of online Forensic Accounting Degree?

A:Students enrolled in forensic accounting degrees will learn how to detect financial fraud schemes, misappropriation of assets, fraudulent activities in finance, develop fraud cases for litigation purposes, provide testimony and evidence, and more. This area is offered for study ta undergraduate and graduate level. Browse through our page for detail.

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