Anyone with a bachelor’s degree in accounting who wants the opportunity to expand their job prospects and become certified in a particular field would do well to consider further education in forensic accounting. As the overall demand for accountants grows, at an expected rate of 10 percent over the next ten years (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016), so should the demand for the forensic specialty.
Since it can be difficult for a working accountant to take the time off to complete a master’s degree or certificate program, schools are increasingly recognizing the value of online options. For this reason, we have collected the top schools that offer education in forensic accounting practices through online courses. For these top ranked online forensic accounting programs, the flexibility of online education does nothing to detract from the high standards of instruction and the ultimate success that students find upon completion of the programs.
Through its College of Business, Florida Atlantic University offers an executive master of accounting degree with a concentration in forensic accounting. Though the school is based in Boca Raton, Florida with satellite campuses around the state, all classes in this program are available online and compatible with a wide array of portable media devices including mobile phones and tablets. The two-year program has been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and was the first forensic accounting program of its kind. Students local to the Fort Lauderdale area are also able to attend live lectures on campus once per week in addition to online coursework.
The Northeastern University College of Professional Studies, based in Boston, Massachusetts, offers a graduate certificate in forensic accounting. The program is based entirely online and is designed for working accountants to expand their skillset to include the ever-changing rules and techniques of forensics to their extant accounting skills. Unlike some programs on this list, there is no degree offered upon completion of this program, which takes between one and two years to complete. Only a bachelor’s degree is required to apply.
With their online program at the Malcolm Baldrige School of Business, Post University students can earn a forensic accounting degree certificate. Because Post University is entirely online, they have the infrastructure to teach students around the world. The forensic accounting certificate will help prepare any students for the Certified Fraud Examiner examination, which is an important step towards a career as as a forensic accountant for many professionals.
Southern New Hampshire University, which has a campus in Manchester, offers an online master of science (MS) in forensic accounting. Unlike some other programs on this list, the SNHU program takes students from the start to finish of a complete master’s degree. As such, incoming students must have at least a bachelor’s degree, although some accommodations can be made if a student does not meet all prerequisites.
The Continuing Education division at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte offers an online forensic accounting certificate. To earn the certificate, students must take a total of three classes within a two-year span. The courses are intended to further the education of working accountants who want to protect their employers, or their own businesses from fraud.
At Golden Gate University, students can complete a graduate certificate in forensic accounting either on campus in San Francisco, or completely online. The courses are designed to prepare students to earn the Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) credential. Since this is a fairly new credential only offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants beginning in 2008, Golden Gate University is one of the few online programs tailored to this specific certification.
New England College, based in Henniker, New Hampshire, offers a master of science degree in forensic accounting, with courses taking place entirely online. The online course can assist working professionals in passing the CPA exam. In its entirety, the MS program consists of 10 courses and 40 credit hours. Each course is taken on its own to allow students who are working full-time to focus on their academic goals more easily.
LaSalle University, with its main campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offers an online certificate in fraud and forensic accounting. The program consists of five courses and a total of 15 credit hours, although some basic courses may be waived for students that have prior accounting experience. The LaSalle program is designed to give students a through academic foundation that will help them progress professionally.
West Virginia University has demonstrated its dedication to teaching various forensic disciplines with the development of an online forensic accounting program. Students can earn a graduate certificate in forensic accounting and fraud examination by completing four graduate courses over the span of two years. This program also requires students to attend at least two in-person training sessions on campus in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Stevenson University, with campuses in Stevenson and Owings Mills, Maryland, offers both an online master of science degree and a post-baccalaureate certificate program in forensic accounting. In the online master’s program, students will have the opportunity to learn from respected professors and adjunct faculty who have years of experience in the field. The program concludes in a mock trial capstone project, which allows students to apply their knowledge in a real world scenario.
With the demand for forensic accountants increasing, it should come as no surprise that the number of available training programs has also risen. However, not all those programs earned a spot on this list. In determining which online programs were best suited to this list, a number of factors were taken into account, as follows.
When looking at any higher education program, researching the school’s accreditation record is essential. This is particularly true for online programs that may not otherwise be held to the same standards as brick and mortar locations. All programs on this list are accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, or the Higher Learning Commission.
In many ways, the internet has revolutionized how students learn and how educators teach. All major universities use online resources for their classes in some way. However, a program that takes place entirely online must have the technological resources and requisite tech support availability so that students can complete their lesson, communicate with their teachers, and learn in an efficient manner. The schools on this list have these systems in place and they have been tested by many classes already.
Many of these programs take place entirely online. However, due to the core skills required by forensic accountants, priority was given to those programs that have at least some personal interaction as a part of the curriculum. According to research from the American Institute of CPA’s, forensic accountants that have strong interpersonal communications skills are in very high demand, which is why some personal communication, whether within a classroom or in online conference sessions, is ideal for this type of program.