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There is expected to be 126,500 new job openings available for accountants each year over the next decade. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t list salary data for forensic accountants specifically, it reports a median salary for accountants at approximately $78,000. You can become qualified for other occupations, such as financial manager and financial analyst, with this degree as well. With an average course load of 30 to 36 credit hours, an online master’s in forensic accounting program typically takes one to two years of full-time study. The average tuition for graduate degree programs is $12,596 at public schools and $28,017 at private schools.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting Program

Choose your area of study

A master’s degree in forensic accounting will prepare you for investigating fraud and financial crimes using advanced accounting techniques. This degree is typically available as a Master of Science (MS), though some schools offer a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in forensic accounting.

If you have a specific path in mind for your career, look for programs that allow you to focus your studies on this speciality. For example, some master’s in forensic accounting programs offer concentrations in areas such as cybersecurity compliance and business data analytics.

Research schools and programs

You should only consider institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, your master’s in forensic accounting program will also be accredited by a respected industry group like the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). These programmatic accrediting organizations have particularly high standards for business education.

Aside from accreditation, ensure you also consider your educational preferences to maximize your learning. For instance, do you prefer to work out problems independently, or do you enjoy study groups and student meetups? These considerations will significantly affect your academic success in the long run.

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit their website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

Each school has their own set of application requirements. The best way to prepare for tests and applications is to contact a school’s admissions office. An admissions counselor can advise you on the school’s academic prerequisites, which may include a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a minimum grade point average. Recommendation letters, personal statements, and transcripts are often required as well.

Your counselor can also walk you through each admissions process step, which may include standardized testing. Typical exam scores requested for accounting and business students are the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).

Select your program

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Are you only interested in 100% online programs, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a few in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer? Your school should accommodate your scheduling needs and learning preferences.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Your school’s financial aid office is the best place to begin researching the tuition and fees for your program. The people there can inform you of your per-credit cost and any additional student, library, or technology fees you’ll be expected to pay.

A financial aid counselor can also help you locate any available grants or scholarships to help you pay for your program. Along these lines, most graduate students fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for affordable loans and other aid programs. Those who already work in the field should see if their employer offers tuition assistance benefits as well.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting Programs

Best Online Master's in Forensic Accounting Programs Badge

Stevenson University

Bay Path University

Carlow University

Liberty University

FAU School of Accounting Executive Programs

West Virginia University

Rider University

Southern New Hampshire University

Western New England University

New England College

The University of Scranton

Utica University

SUNY Polytechnic Institute

Discover More Options

How We Rank Schools

This list focuses on programs that offer online master’s degrees and graduate certificate programs in forensic accounting. While each program featured in this guide is offered online, some may require you to work synchronously with other students in your program.

Several organizations oversee curriculum and ensure the quality of education that the programs on this list provide. This includes regional accrediting organizations like the Higher Learning Commission as well as programmatic accrediting organizations like the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

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

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) defines forensic accounting as “the application of specialized knowledge and investigative skills possessed by CPAs to collect, analyze, and evaluate evidential matter, and to interpret and communicate findings in the courtroom, boardroom, or other legal or administrative venue.”

In your master’s program, you’ll develop the investigative and analytical skills needed to review accounting systems from a legal perspective. You’ll learn to perform anti-fraud risk assessments, litigation discoveries, and trial testimonies. You’ll also dive deeply into tax law, auditing standards, and financial reporting requirements.

In general, an online master’s in forensic accounting will require the completion of 30-36 credit hours, but some schools require up to 50. Most programs can be completed within two years for full-time students.

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

  • Advanced Business Law for Accountants. Students review government regulation of business and gain a deeper understanding of the law in securities regulation, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Uniform Commercial Code, and more. Students explore business law as it relates to the legal issues encountered by CPAs.
  • Fraud Examination. Students explore the field of fraud examination and learn how to detect and prevent fraudulent financial activity.
  • Advanced Auditing. Students examine case studies of actual auditing applications in court cases and policy. This course covers auditors’ ethical responsibilities, the responsibility to detect fraud, and the creation of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).
  • Accounting Information Systems. Students explore the internal control features of accounting information systems and how they are necessary for accurate and reliable accounting data. The course illustrates how accounting information is recorded, summarized, and reported in manual and computerized systems.
  • Advanced Cost Accounting. Students experience the fast-changing, highly technical aspects of cost accounting. The course covers process costing, cost allocation, planning and decision-making, activity-based management, and managing performance.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting?

Career outlook

The field of forensic accounting is a dynamic and rapidly growing area within the broader accounting profession. Pursuing an online master’s degree in forensic accounting can open doors to a range of exciting career opportunities.

Indeed, an online master’s in forensic accounting equips you with specialized skills and knowledge that are highly sought after in the business, legal, and financial sectors. Forensic accountants investigate financial irregularities, fraud, and financial crimes, so they may be found working in law enforcement as well as the business and nonprofit worlds. Here are some common career paths that an individual with an online master’s in forensic accounting may want to consider:

  • Accountant or auditor — Assess financial operations and prepare and examine financial records.
    • Median annual salary: $78,000
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 4%
    • New job openings projected: 126,500 annually
  • Financial examiner — Ensure regulatory compliance by reviewing balance sheets, expense accounts, and other financial records.
    • Median annual salary: $82,210
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 20%
    • New job openings projected: 6,300 annually
  • Claims adjuster, appraiser, examiner, or investigator — Assess insurance claims to ensure they are not fraudulent and determine if the claimed losses are covered by the policy.
    • Median annual salary: $72,040
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): -3%
    • New job openings projected: 21,500 annually

Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in forensic accounting degree program?

Your first step in the application process is contacting the admissions counselors at the various universities where you hope to apply. They can inform you of the necessary materials you’ll need to submit, along with application deadlines. You can also research the schools’ websites or student handbooks for specific program requirements and prerequisites.

Most schools request the following application materials:

  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • 2-3 letters of recommendation
  • GRE or GMAT scores
  • Personal statement or application essay

How much does an online master’s in forensic accounting degree cost?

The per-credit cost of an online master’s in forensic accounting ranges from $627-$850. However, this will vary depending on your school’s policies and other factors, such as your state residency or additional program fees. Public institutions that offer in-state discounts are often the most affordable.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in forensic accounting degree?

In most cases, an online master’s in forensic accounting degree will take one to two years for a full-time student to complete. Part-time students may take three to five years, but some schools offer accelerated programs that allow students to take more credit hours simultaneously. Nonetheless, part-time and full-time students must complete the same 30-36 credit hours.

Is an online master’s degree in forensic accounting worth it?

An online master’s degree in forensic accounting offers diverse and lucrative career opportunities in the fields of accounting, finance, and investigation. Whether you aspire to be a forensic accountant or pursue other roles in risk management or compliance, this advanced degree equips you with the expertise needed to uncover financial irregularities and contribute to the prevention and resolution of financial crimes. Your career path will depend on your interests, goals, and the specific sector of the financial industry you choose to explore.

Earning your degree online can be an advantageous choice for many students, as online programs offer flexibility for those who need to balance study time with work or family commitments.