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Graduates with forensic accounting degrees investigate white-collar crimes to find discrepancies and determine if financial fraud occurred. The course of study in bachelor’s programs combines business law and accounting with financial tax law practices to prepare students to conduct finance-related investigations. This degree is a stepping stone to work for corporations, insurance companies, law offices, and government and law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 6% job growth in the accounting field through 2031. The median annual pay for accountants is $77,250. Individuals investigating financial crimes through law enforcement agencies can expect a median annual salary of $66,020.

Tuition costs for an online bachelor’s in forensic accounting vary based on several factors. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2021-22 academic year, average undergraduate tuition was $12,394 at public institutions and $37,095 at private universities. Most programs require 120 credits and can be completed in four years of full-time study.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s in Forensic Accounting Degree Program

Choose your area of study

Forensic accounting is a niche area of study, so before selecting this as the degree to pursue, you may want to explore related fields such as general accounting, finance, criminal justice, or business law.

Establishing your long-term educational and career goals can also help you determine what kind of program you want to seek. Some programs focus on the influences and social causes of crime. In contrast, others emphasize investigative procedure ethics or have a more technical forensic science approach.

It’s also a good idea to reflect on what you need from a logistical standpoint. Are you seeking an asynchronous program, which allows students to complete lessons and assignments on their own schedule, or a synchronous program, with live virtual classes at pre-designated times? Will you enroll full-time or part-time? Can you participate in any in-person requirements, like an internship or labs, or do you need a fully online program? Determining these parameters now will help you find the right program.

Various areas of study may be more technical and concentrate on forensic scientific elements. Consider these aspects when making a choice:

  • Ensure the program offers courses in the desired area of specialization.
  • Review the program’s curriculum to ensure it will help develop the knowledge and skills to succeed in a forensic accounting career.
  • As a challenging field, choosing an area that offers engaging classes pertinent to your future profession is imperative.

Research schools and programs

When researching schools and programs for a bachelor’s degree in forensic accounting, confirm their accreditation status by checking an accrediting database. Accrediation ensures that the institution meets rigorous standards for providing high-quality education. Students are eligible for federal financial aid only if they enroll in an accredited school. This can also affect future employment and educational opportunities for students. Students planning to become private investigators should also make sure the program prepares them to meet the state’s licensing requirements.

During the research process, get answers to the following questions:

  • Are classes offered synchronously or asynchronously?
  • Does the program require hands-on learning experiences, such as internships, field studies, or labs?
  • How do students interact with classmates and faculty?
  • Who are the faculty, and what are their qualifications?
  • What networking opportunities are available to online students?
  • What support services does the school provide to online students?

This information is usually available on a school’s website. Engaging with representatives of the school can also be helpful. Find out if they offer virtual open houses or information sessions where online students can talk to faculty, current students, and other program representatives. Following schools and programs on social media is another way to learn more.

Prepare for tests and applications

During the research process, review and confirm the school’s admissions requirements. Students applying to multiple programs may find it helpful to create a spreadsheet or checklist to keep track of submissions and deadlines.

For a bachelor’s degree program, most schools require the following:

  • Completed application and application fee
  • Official high school transcripts showing proof of graduation or a GED
  • Letters of recommendation from current or former teachers, employers, colleagues, or community leaders
  • Resume or CV
  • Personal essay or statement of purpose

Some schools still require SAT or ACT scores, although many institutions are implementing test-optional policies. Students should also check if there are specific requirements, such as a minimum high school GPA.

If you’re applying as a transfer student, you’ll need to submit official transcripts from any schools you previously attended. Your new school will evaluate these transcripts to determine what credits will transfer to your new program.

Select your program

As you research programs, some will likely stand out because they meet your curriculum, cost, and logistics needs and wants. If you need help narrowing your list, create a pros and cons list for each school.

There’s no right or wrong number of programs to apply to. Some students may find only one or two programs that appeal to them. Others may submit multiple applications to increase their odds of acceptance. One thing to keep in mind is the application fees most schools charge, which can add up quickly for those applying to multiple programs.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

As you research programs, it’s a good idea to get clarification on how much they cost (including fees) and what types of financial aid resources are available from the school. Find out if the school offers merit-based aid, such as scholarships, grants, or fellowships.

Students may also want to investigate need-based aid, which can include student loans, work-study jobs, grants, scholarships, and assistantships. To determine their eligibility for need-based aid, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Other avenues to explore include scholarships for external organizations like professional development organizations, non-profits, and corporations; GI Bill benefits for veterans and military service members; and employer tuition assistance benefits.

The Top 50 Online Bachelor’s in Forensic Accounting Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Programs Badge

University of Northwestern Ohio

Champlain College

Southern New Hampshire University

Utica University

Indiana State University

Franklin University

UAB Collat School of Business

Point University

Maryville University

Davenport University

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How we rank schools

This list focuses on undergraduate programs offering bachelor’s degrees in forensic accounting or a related field. All programs included on the list are available at non-profit, accredited institutions, either public or private, with high standards of quality for post-secondary education. We reviewed fully online and in-person/online hybrid programs.

We evaluated each degree program on factors like tuition costs, faculty, reputation, student resources, and admission, retention, and graduation rates. We then calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

We also compared our picks to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect from an Online Bachelor’s in Forensic Accounting Degree Program?

Students in an undergraduate forensic accounting program will choose between a Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Arts (BA), and Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree. Each type of degree has a different theoretical and practical approach to curriculum while requiring varying general education credits.

Students in this program will start with foundational courses in accounting, business law, finance, marketing and operations, and federal taxation. Once they complete core courses, students can specialize in money laundering and embezzlement, computer forensics and information technology, fraud examination, or ethics.

Students will learn key skills like analyzing transactions and monitoring illegal activity, creating financial statements, the appropriate way to testify in court during fraud cases, and working in civil matters like divorce proceedings.

Depending on the program, learners will take a comprehensive exam, complete a research paper or capstone project, or participate in an internship. Job seekers who want to work as fraud examiners must be certified after graduation.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online bachelor’s in forensic accounting degree program

  • Auditing and Fraud Examination. Students acquire skills in detecting and preventing fraud. They apply standard analytic processes to detect various types of fraud.
  • Interview Techniques. The class focuses on conducting interviews during legal investigations and civil proceedings. Enrollees familiarize themselves with different forensic interview techniques.
  • Investigating with Computers/Cybercrime. This class helps students understand the technology that makes fraud possible. Computer training related to identity theft and online fraud methods is a class focus.
  • Intermediate Accounting. This course emphasizes more complex accounting principles. Learners apply theoretical frameworks to tax cases.

What Can I Do With an Online Forensic Accounting Degree?

A degree in forensic accounting prepares students to work in a variety of settings, preventing or investigating financial crimes such as insurance fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, and embezzlement.

Forensic accountants can be found in many professional sectors, including government, business, finance, insurance, and more. Some work in-house for companies performing internal auditing, while others are employed by outside companies hired to conduct external auditing. Forensic accountants may also work closely with law enforcement agencies to investigate financial crimes.

While a bachelor’s degree is typically sufficient for entry- and mid-level forensic accounting positions, some more complex or high-level roles may require an advanced degree, such as a master’s in forensic accounting.

Career outlook

  • Forensic accountant or auditor — Investigate financial crimes such as securities fraud and embezzlement, bankruptcies and contract disputes, and other complex and potentially criminal financial transactions by combining their knowledge of accounting and finance with law and investigative techniques to determine if an activity is illegal.
    • Median annual salary: $79,880
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 4%
    • New jobs projected: 126,500 per year
  • Financial examiner — Ensure compliance with laws that govern institutions handling monetary transactions by reviewing balance sheets, evaluating the risk level of loans, and assessing bank management.
    • Median annual salary: $84,300
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 20%
    • New jobs projected: 6,300 per year
  • Fraud investigator — Evaluate claims in which an insurance company suspects fraudulent or criminal activity.
    • Median annual salary: $49,540
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 6%
    • New jobs projected: 3,800 per year

Online Bachelor’s in Forensic Accounting Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online Bachelor’s in Forensic Accounting degree program?

The first step is to contact an admissions counselor to confirm application procedures and deadlines.

The majority of schools accept applications and any additional application materials online through an application portal. For bachelor’s degrees, students also have the option of using the Common Application to apply to multiple schools with one application.

For letters of recommendation, ask individuals who know you well and can speak to your academic abilities and skills, especially as they relate to this field. Give yourself sufficient time to craft a well-written personal essay and ask a trusted teacher, counselor, or friend to review it before submitting it.

How much does an online Bachelor’s in Forensic Accounting degree cost?

The cost of an online degree will vary among schools. For the most accurate answer, speak directly with a financial aid counselor at your school.

For the 2021-22 academic year, the average tuition for undergraduate students was $7,869 at public universities and $37,095 at private institutions.

When considering the cost of a program, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Public schools are usually less expensive than private schools, although their tuition rates may differ for in-state and out-of-state students.
  • Most schools will charge additional fees for things like virtual classroom technology, student support services, library resources, or technical support.
  • Online students can expect to save money by eliminating transportation expenses and having more flexibility with living expenses.

How long does it take to earn an online Bachelor’s in Forensic Accounting degree?

The number of required credits, the student’s rate of progress, and the student’s prior educational experience will determine how long it takes to earn an online bachelor’s in forensic accounting.

Programs generally require a minimum of 120 credits. For full-time students starting the program from the beginning, this typically takes four years to complete. Part-time students may need an additional one to two years.

Individuals with college credits may seek a degree completion program, which allows students to apply their previously earned credits towards this degree. These programs can usually be completed in one to two years of full-time study.

Is an online forensic accounting degree worth it?

Forensic accountants play a key role in preventing and catching financial crimes, making them a valuable and necessary asset to corporations and governments. Because of the specialized knowledge required to examine and understand financial documents and regulations, most forensic accounting jobs require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, a bachelor’s degree is one of the requirements for students who want to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Earning a bachelor’s in forensic accounting can have a positive return on investment. Individuals in this field earn a median annual wage of $79,880, with top earners making more than $137,000 per year.

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