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2022's best online master's in forensic accounting degrees

A master's degree in forensic accounting equips you with the financial knowledge and investigation skills to hunt down financial fraud.

A forensic accounting degree explores accounting principles and practices, investigatory tools and techniques, and rules and regulations that apply to financial transactions. Career opportunities look promising: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects nearly 100,000 new accounting positions by 2030.

Forensic accountants assess financial data to identify financial fraud. Forensic accountants also work to prevent fraud by detecting risks and potential weaknesses within financial practices. 

Forensic accounting is an exciting field that blends analytical skills, research abilities, and a sense of mystery and investigation. To find the right master's degree in forensic accounting for you, take a look at the rankings below.

Top 5 schools for master's in forensic accounting degrees

College

Program stats

How much?

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Pembroke, NC

  • MBA in Forensic Accounting
  • Acceptance rate: 85%
  • Graduation rate: 44%
  • Finish in 1-2 years

Avg. annual net price: $10,228

Application fee: $55

West Virginia University

Morgantown, WV

  • MS in Forensic and Fraud Examination
  • Acceptance rate: 84%
  • Graduation rate: 59%
  • Two practical engagement requirements

Avg. annual net price: $12,983

Application fee: $60

SUNY Polytechnic Institute

Utica, NY

  • MS in Financial Crime and Compliance Management
  • Acceptance rate: 69%
  • Graduation rate: 55%
  • Preps students for CipherTrace Certified Examiner certification

Avg. annual net price: $13,809

Application fee: $60

Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, NH

  • MS in Accounting, concentration in forensic accounting
  • Acceptance rate: 88%
  • Graduation rate: 47%
  • MS in Accounting Finance also available

Avg. annual net price: $41,095

Application fee: Free

Pfeiffer University

Misenheimer, NC

  • MS in Financial Fraud Investigations
  • Acceptance rate: 64%
  • Graduation rate: 51%
  • Affiliated with United Methodist Church

Avg. annual net price: $33,465

Application fee: Not publicly available

The best online master's in forensic accounting degrees

Finding the right online forensic accounting master's degree requires considering many factors. ZDNet's ranking methodology weighs top forensic accounting degrees' cost, convenience, and characteristics.

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

1. University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Pembroke, North Carolina

About the program: UNCP's online MBA in forensic accounting includes concentration coursework in fraud examination, forensic accounting, and legal issues for managers.

  • Acceptance rate: 85%
  • Graduation rate: 44%
  • Avg. annual net price: $10,228
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: GMAT or GRE, waiver available
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

2. West Virginia University

Morgantown, West Virginia

About the program: WVU's 30-credit online master's degree in forensic and fraud examination includes two practical engagement requirements.

  • Acceptance rate: 84%
  • Graduation rate: 59%
  • Avg. annual net price: $12,983
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: 2.9
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

3. SUNY Polytechnic Institute

Utica, New York

About the program: Completing SUNY Poly's online master's in financial crime and compliance management leads to professional certification as a CipherTrace Certified Examiner (CTCE).

  • Acceptance rate: 69%
  • Graduation rate: 55%
  • Avg. annual net price: $13,809
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • GRE/GMAT: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

4. Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, New Hampshire

About the program: SNHU's 36-credit online master's in accounting with a concentration in forensic accounting emphasizes prevention, detection, and investigation of financial offenses.

  • Acceptance rate: 88%
  • Graduation rate: 47%
  • Avg. annual net price: $41,095
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: 2.75
  • Enrollment periods per year: Five
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

5. Pfeiffer University

Misenheimer, North Carolina

About the program: Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Pfeiffer offers an online master's degree in financial fraud and investigations with optional specializations in business and leadership.

  • Acceptance rate: 64%
  • Graduation rate: 51%
  • Avg. annual net price: $33,465
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

6. Carlow University

Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

About the program: Carlow's online master's degree in forensic accounting and fraud investigation includes an optional specialization in cyber threat research and analytics.

  • Acceptance rate: 92%
  • Graduation rate: 58%
  • Avg. annual net price: $20,002
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

7. New England College

Henniker, New Hampshire

About the program: NEC's online master's degree in accounting with a concentration in forensic accounting emphasizes internal audit and risk management, business crime and ethical behavior, and fraud risk management and interrogation.

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 44%
  • Avg. annual net price: $29,082
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous

What to expect in an online master's in forensic accounting degree program

A master's in forensic accounting includes two years of coursework. Core coursework emphasizes accounting fundamentals, while advanced and elective classes cover topics related to forensics and fraud. 

Classes in a forensic accounting master's degree integrate individual learning with collaborative activities and projects. Some train students to use software used to investigate and detect fraud through laboratory assignments and practical-learning exercises.

Some forensic accounting master's degrees culminate in a capstone requirement such as a project or a thesis. Others require students to complete a cumulative exam, although some degrees may include both. 

Students who actively participate and engage in class will have a more fulfilling experience. Earning a master's in forensic accounting requires dedication and time management.

Master's in forensic accounting courses

Forensic accounting classes emphasize detecting and preventing cybercrime, money laundering, and other money-related offenses.

Students study accounting ethics, fraud investigation, and fraud prevention and protection alongside accounting and auditing technologies. Additional courses may include investigation and analysis in taxation, litigation theory and practice, and financial statement examination.

Here are some classes you're likely to see in a master's in forensic accounting curriculum.

Fundamentals of fraud investigation

This class introduces students to the basics of fraud investigation: Types of fraud, financial analytics, and tools and techniques of financial cybercrime. Additional topics include internal controls, evidence collection, and interview and interrogation methods.

Accounting ethics

Accounting ethics courses focus on decision-making and reason in the accounting profession, plus codes of conduct, regulations, and laws that apply to accounting practices. Topics include external and internal stakeholders, legal compliance, and corporate governance. 

Financial statement examination

Students examine different types of financial statements. Learners assess documents such as credit reports, profit statements, leases and pensions, and corporate investments.

Auditing and accounting information technology

This course emphasizes theories and practices of auditing and accounting using computer-based controls and systems. Topics include computer-assisted auditing tools, auditing operating systems and networks, and security over database systems.

Forensic accounting degree levels

Individuals looking to enter forensic accounting may benefit from an undergraduate degree in the field. 

Practicing accountants can advance by earning a master's or doctoral degree. Graduate certificates build upon existing knowledge of accounting and emphasize specific forensics and fraud topics.

Certificate in forensic accounting

Length: One year

Cost: $3,000-$8,000

Post-grad careers: Forensic accountant, fraud investigator, law enforcement officer

Though not a degree, an undergraduate certificate in forensic accounting emphasizes the practices and principles of forensics and fraud detection and prevention for practicing accountants. 

Learners hone their analytical skills through specialized classes in detecting and preventing fraud, assessing financial statements, and interviewing techniques for fraud investigation. 

Classes also train students to use technologies associated with forensic accounting and fraud investigation.

Bachelor's in forensic accounting

Length: Four years

Cost: $18,000-$90,000

Post-grad careers: Tax examiner, auditor, fraud investigator, forensic accountant

A bachelor's degree in forensic accounting includes four years of coursework. Students complete general education requirements alongside major coursework in accounting fundamentals, finance, and economics. 

A forensic accounting degree may function as a stand-alone program or a concentration within an accounting major. In both, earners complete coursework in fraud investigation, forensic accounting essentials, and tools and technologies of financial crime. 

Classes in accountant laws, regulations, and codes of conduct accompany practical learning exercises and internship requirements. 

Master's in forensic accounting

Length: Two years

Cost: $22,000-$80,000

Post-grad careers: Forensic accounting, senior fraud investigator, financial forensic analyst

A master's degree in forensic accounting emphasizes advanced accounting investigation and financial auditing practices. Learners may complete a master's in forensic accounting, an MBA with an accounting concentration, or a master's in accounting specializing in forensics and fraud investigation. 

All programs train accounting professionals to assess risk, implement control systems, identify fraud, and report financial misconduct. 

With a master's in forensics accounting, learners possess the expertise to work within financial institutions, with government agencies, or as independent consultants. Forensic accounting master's degrees also facilitate career advancement within an individual's current accounting role.

Doctorate in forensic accounting

Length: 3-5 years

Cost: $25,000-$120,000

Post-grad careers: Chief financial officer, accounting professor, senior financial accountant

With a doctorate in forensic accounting, learners can advance to the top of the field. Advanced coursework in fraud investigation and detection, risk management, and forensic accounting practices equips individuals to work as chief financial officers or as leaders within the accounting profession. 

A Ph.D. in forensic accounting emphasizes research and theory in the discipline. Coursework in cyber forensics, accounting techniques, fraud investigation, and accounting ethics integrates case studies and real-world learning exercises. 

Students complete research methods classes in anticipation of undertaking an advanced research project. 

In conclusion

If exploring accounting through an investigatory lens appeals to you, consider pursuing a degree in forensic accounting.

Whether you want to enter the accounting profession or hone your existing skills, there's a master's in forensic accounting program that fits your goals. Take a look at the information above to determine which forensic accounting program is right for you. 

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