A masters degree in forensic accounting is ideal for students who have an interest in financial research and financial reporting particularly related to auditing, analyzing, and confirming the accuracy or inaccuracy of financial documents. In their professional careers, forensic accountants are charged with researching and ascertaining questionable financial data in order to investigate criminal behaviors of both businesses and individuals. A typical master’s degree in forensic accounting covers various accounting concepts, such as basic accounting, auditing, and ascertaining financial data. In addition to their accounting classes, students are expected to complete both business and legal courses that discuss financial crimes, fraud, business ethics, and a myriad of other important subjects. Because forensic accounting involves a great deal of forensic and financial research, students must be skilled in math and research and able to spot errors in financial reporting.
Why a Master’s Degree?
Forensic accounting graduate programs are highly encouraged for students who want work in forensic accounting. Although it is possible to secure entry-level forensic accounting jobs with a bachelor’s degree, it is difficult for individuals to advance their careers without a graduate degree. In fact, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that most forensic accounting jobs require students to complete a number of advanced training courses, such as investigative resources, financial investigative topics and techniques, and witness testifying techniques. In order to become a certified fraud examiner, students must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and relevant work experience.
Getting Into a Master’s Degree Program
Admission requirements for forensic accounting degree programs are different at each university. However, here are some common requirements students are expected to meet:
- Bachelor’s degree in accounting, forensic accounting, or related subject
- Academic transcript with at least 24 credit hours in accounting
- Professional accounting experience
Inside a Forensic Accounting Master’s Degree Program
Many individuals don’t understand the difference between a master’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in forensic accounting. Unlike traditional accounting, forensic accounting provides a perspective beyond the math and numbers. Forensic accounting degree programs help students develop investigative and communication skills used in legal cases and investigations. Although it differs at every university, it usually takes about two to three years to complete a master’s degree in forensic accounting.
Most forensic accounting degree programs discuss criminology, legal procedures, internal auditing, evidence management, professional ethics, persuasive communication, professional research, and numerous other key topics. Under the guidance of their professors, graduate students will learn how to detect fraudulent accounting schemes or practices, spot unbalanced financing, identify fictitious sales, and more. Some universities also require their forensic accounting students to obtain internships and seek out training courses in forensic accounting. Those who want to pursue online degrees in this subject are encouraged to seek out schools that offer distance learning programs.
What’s Next for Forensic Accounting Master’s Degree Holders?
Once a student graduates from a forensic accounting master’s degree program, they’ll be eligible for a wide variety of professional careers in forensic accounting. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants can expect to make around $62,000 a year. Yet as is the case with most professions, compensation is determined by a number of factors, including job location and experience.
The BLS also emphasizes that the demand for knowledgeable accountants is expected to increase in response to recent financial crises and increased financial laws and regulations. Forensic accountants generally find careers in government agencies, corporations, non-profit groups, banks, financial industries, and private practices. If you decide to pursue a higher degree in accounting, your career options will also expand accordingly.