Forensic accounting is a specialized accounting niche that utilizes auditing and investigative skills to conduct thorough examination into business, corporation, or individual finances. Forensic accountant careers require a master’s in accounting degree, along with specialized training. Finding forensic accounting programs, especially masters in forensic accounting online programs, can be challenging, as few exist. However, we located accredited and highly ranked schools that offer affordable options for masters in forensic accounting online degrees.
Top 15 Most Affordable Masters in Forensic Accounting Online Programs Methodology
We reviewed approximately 35 colleges and universities listed by the Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered masters in forensic accounting online programs. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria: national or regional accreditation, online pathways to a masters in forensic accounting or closely related discipline, institution rankings with at least one major publication like U.S. News and World Report, and affordable graduate tuition and fees less than $25,000 per year. We then listed our results according to raw affordability.
Below are the results of our list of top 15 most affordable masters in forensic accounting online programs for 2020.
#15 – Western New England University
Online Master’s in Accounting – Forensic Accounting
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $24,318
Western New England University offers a unique masters in forensic accounting online degree program that consists of a 30-credit accounting degree and nine-credit concentration. The forensic accounting and fraud investigation concentration provides an area of specialization for accountants wanting to expand career opportunities in the fast-growing area of forensic accounting. Courses are delivered online and taught by university accounting professors. Course topics include accounting theory and contemporary issues, advanced topics in auditing and assurance services, business analysis and valuation, forensic accounting, fraud examination, and law for accountants. In addition to being accredited, Western New England University ranks with U.S. News. In fact, recent 2020 rankings include #218 in best national universities.
#14 – Bay Path University
Online Master’s in Accounting – Forensic Accounting
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $23,787
Bay Path University is one of the few schools to offers an online master’s in forensic accounting. The forensic accounting concentration is part of the master’s in accounting degree program. This fully accredited and online program consists of 30 credits. These credits are earned by taking seven core courses and three electives. Courses in accounting and forensic accounting include advanced auditing, advanced cost accounting, contemporary issues in accounting, forensics accounting systems, fraud examination, and legal issues in accounting including business ethics and social responsibility. Bay Path is fully accredited and ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Recent rankings include #94 in best regional universities in the North and #21 in most innovative schools.
#13 – Southern New Hampshire University
Masters in Forensic Accounting Online
Manchester, New Hampshire
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,810
For individuals looking to advance their accounting careers in fraud and forensic accounting, Southern New Hampshire University offers an accredited online master’s in forensic accounting degree. No GMAT or GRE test scores are required for admission to the specialized accounting program. In fact, admission requirements are as convenient as the online structure of the program. Students take online classes taught by SNHU instructors who have relevant experience working in the field. Courses span several accounting disciplines and cover topics like business law, control and audit of accounting information systems, detection and prevention of fraudulent financial statements, and introduction to forensic accounting and fraud examination. SNHU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 92nd best regional university in the North and 1st most innovative school.
#12 – Carlow University
Online Master’s in Fraud and Forensics
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,494
Carlow University’s online forensic accounting programs include the online master’s in fraud and forensics. This uniquely designed degree program consists of 30 credits and ten courses designed by licensing experts in accounting, government and corporations, and law enforcement. Courses are taken 100 percent online with a virtual residency. The courses meet the 150-hour requirement for the CPA exam and help prepare students for the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) exam. Courses in Carlow’s forensic accounting online program cover topics like audit procedures for detecting fraud, financial statement examination, fraud and forensics community experience, fraud preventions and ethics, scientific inquiry in fraud and forensics, and white-collar crime. Carlow ranks with U.S. News and World Report in the most recent 2020 publication of Best Colleges. These rankings include #75 in best regional universities in the North.
#11 – Franklin University
Online Master’s in Accounting
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,080
While Franklin University does not offer a specific master’s in forensic accounting online degree, the online master’s in accounting program offers courses and touches on subject matter related to the highly specialized field. In fact, Franklin’s online accounting degree emphasizes skills sought by employers through the curriculum taught. Course topics include advanced auditing and data mining, financial accounting and reporting, forensic accounting, and taxation and fraud. Admission requires an earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum GPA of 2.75. If the GPA stipulation is not met, a graduate entrance exam is required. Franklin is recognized by U.S. News and World Report among the top business schools.
#10 – Strayer University
Masters in Forensic Accounting Online
Washington, District of Columbia
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,985
Strayer University offers an accredited online master’s in forensic accounting that consists of 12 courses, which may be completed entirely online. The program is designed for professionals looking to gain effective forensic accounting skills that emphasize fraud detection and risk. Courses cover topics in forensic accounting, such as emerging auditing technologies, forensic accounting, and fraud prevention and detection. For those interested in sitting for the CPA examination will find the program navigates state boards of accountancy and meets certain CPA exam requirements. Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Strayer has also received recognition from U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the North.
#9 – Seton Hill University
Online MBA in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,882
Seton Hill University’s master’s in forensic accounting online degree program consists of an MBA and specialization in forensic accounting and fraud examination. The program’s curriculum is designed to help students gain eligibility to sit for the CPA examination. Additionally, the program prepares graduate students for certifications as a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA). Courses are delivered online and cover business and forensic accounting topics like economics for decision making, forensic and fraud investigations, forensic and fraud legalities, fraud prevention and deterrence, and strategic management. Admission does not require applicants to take the GRE or GMAT exams. Seton ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 139th best national university and 112th best business program.
#8 – New England College
Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting
Henniker, New Hampshire
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,560
One of the top online forensic accounting programs on our list is offered by New England College. Here students learn to analyze, detect, and investigate the accounting of organizations while applying forensic accounting principles. The program is considered interdisciplinary in design and approach, covering topics in accounting, business, and management. Students develop strong analytical and investigative skills while learning to identify questionable financial practices in organizations. Classes are conveniently taught online, making the program ideal for working professionals. According to U.S. News and World Report, New England College ranks #129-#170 in best regional universities in the North and #96 in top performers on social mobility.
#7 – Tiffin University
Online MBA in Forensics and Fraud Examination
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,000
The 32-36 credit, 14-month master’s in forensic accounting online program at Tiffin University offers flexible start dates and affordable tuition. In fact, the school boasts no tuition increases in the past five years. Students seeking a master’s in forensic accounting may take online courses and complete program requirements for the MBA in forensics and fraud examination. Classes cover a variety of accounting and forensic accounting topics like ethical standards, fraud examination, and white-collar crime. The online MBA also prepares students for accounting certifications, such as the CPA and CFE. Rigorous and accelerated classes mean students earn their online MBA in approximately 1.5 years. In addition to Tiffin’s accreditation and reputation, the school ranks with U.S. News and World Report. 2020 rankings include #114 in best regional universities in the Midwest.
#6 – SUNY Polytechnic Institute
Online Master’s in Accountancy – Forensic Accounting
Utica, New York
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,668
SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s online master’s in forensic accounting program is a 33-credit hour AACSB-accredited degree. The program consists of 11 courses that allow students to pursue professional interests in specialized areas of accounting like forensic accounting. The program is flexibly designed and accommodates both part-time and full-time students. In addition to taking accountancy courses, students enrolled in the forensic accounting specialization must also complete related coursework. Forensic accounting courses cover topics like financial statement investigations, forensic accounting valuation, and introduction to forensic accounting and fraud examination. SUNY offers prestige and a solid reputation with major publications. In fact, SUNY Polytechnic Institute ranks #12 in best regional universities in the North and #2 in best value schools.
#5 – University of Scranton
Online Master of Accountancy in Forensic Accounting
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,630
University of Scranton offers an accredited and affordable master’s in forensic accounting online degree program designed for working professionals. The online Master of Accountancy (MAcc) is fully accredited by the AACSB and adheres to the standards set forth by the school’s Jesuit tradition. Also, the program serves as CPA exam preparation through Wiley CPAexcel. Accountancy students may earn a concentration in one of two specialized areas of accounting: accounting analytics or forensic accounting. In the forensic accounting concentration, students take courses like auditing, financial fraud reporting, investigative forensic analysis, and the identification of fraud abuse. University of Scranton ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 6th best regional university in the North.
#4 – West Virginia University
Online Master’s in Forensic and Fraud Examination
Morgantown, West Virginia
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,990
West Virginia University’s online master’s in forensic accounting program consists of 10 courses and 30 credits. While WVU’s accounting degree is offered fully online, an on-campus residency is required. In fact, the residency requires two campus visits. Courses include business and forensic and fraud studies. Some classes you might see while enrolled in the program include advanced analytical techniques, advanced fraud investigation, forensics and fraud examination skills, fraud criminology and legal issues, and fraud data analysis. Admission to the program requires an undergraduate GPA of 3.2 and a score on the GMAT of 500. WVU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 228th best national university and 109th top public school.
#3 – Colorado State University Global
Online Master’s in Professional Accounting
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,000
Colorado State University Global’s Master’s in Professional Accounting program is designed to prepare students to be effective leaders in public accounting, corporations, government agencies, and other fields. This professional graduate degree offers several areas of emphasis, including fraud investigations and forensic accounting. By choosing an emphasis, students tailor their degree to meet specific career goals. For the fraud investigations and forensic accounting emphasis, students take online courses like advanced fraud investigations, fraud accounting, and fraud and forensic accounting data analysis. The degree program requires the completion of 30 credits, all of which are earned online. CSU Global ranks with U.S. News and World Report as a top national university. The school is fully accredited and offers affordable tuition.
#2 – Liberty University
Online Master’s in Accounting – Forensic Accounting
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,333
Liberty University’s online forensic accounting programs include the online master’s in forensic accounting. This 30-credit degree program is ACBSP-accredited and offers online classes that run eight weeks in length. Courses cover fraud and forensic accounting topics, as well as core business and accounting principles. Some of the required forensic accounting courses offered include accounting ethics, corporate governance and fraudulent financial reporting, fraud examination, and information technology and fraud. Admission to the program requires applicants hold a nationally or regionally accredited bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA. Liberty ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 293rd to 381st best national university.
#1 – Stevenson University
Online Master’s in Forensic Accounting
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,040
Stevenson University’s master’s in forensic accounting online degree program ranks as the most affordable program on our list. With no application fee and no GRE requirement, applying to the program is convenient for busy and working students. Online classes also accommodate working students. Classes delivered online are taught by the university’s experience faculty and cover topics that span business and forensic accounting studies. These classes include business valuation, fraud accounting, investigation and analysis auditing, investigation and analysis tax, and litigation theory and practice. Stevenson ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 75th best regional university in the North and 33rd best value school.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with a masters in forensic accounting online degree?
One of the fastest growing fields of accounting and law enforcement today is forensic accounting. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a growing increase in financial specialists like forensic accountants. These highly trained accountants carry out unique duties that traditional accountants do not. Forensic accountants analyze and examine business and tax records to identify fraudulent practices.
Forensic accountants often work for law enforcement. They are often CPAs hired by state and federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or United States Secret Service. Some forensic accountants may work for large public accounting firms or corporations, while others work for themselves in their own consulting businesses.
Common job titles associated with the role of a forensic accountant include Certified Forensic Accountant and Certified Fraud Examiner. These positions often require a graduate degree in accounting or forensic accounting, such as the master’s in forensic accounting online degree. In addition to the appropriate degree, certification may be required. Often, forensic accountants are CPAs and have taken and passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination.
Once a forensic accountant has received adequate education and certification, they may be hired. Upon starting as a new forensic accountant for a firm or corporation, on-the-job training is often required. Many new hires spend months being mentored by senior forensic accountants with years of experience.
What are the admission requirements for masters in forensic accounting online programs?
The admission requirements for master’s in forensic accounting online programs on our list vary by school. However, many graduate programs require some of the same criteria. An applicant should possess a bachelor’s degree in accounting from a regionally accredited institution. In some cases, such as Liberty University, a nationally accredited bachelor’s degree will satisfy undergraduate degree requirements. However, the norm is a regionally accredited bachelor’s in accounting.
In addition to a bachelor’s degree, a strong undergraduate record is required for admission to most master’s in forensic accounting online programs. A 3.0 undergraduate GPA will open most doors for you to earn an online forensic accounting master’s degree. Some of the top-tier institutions may require a 3.2 or 3.5 undergraduate GPA, but these programs are rare. Also, some programs do not require as high of a GPA to receive admission. These programs ask for a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or better.
So, what if you don’t have an undergraduate degree in accounting, but in another area of business? The good news is that you won’t have to forego your career aspirations of becoming a forensic accountant. In fact, several online master’s in forensic accounting programs on our list require a bachelor’s degree in any discipline as long as prerequisite courses have been taken.
What skills are helpful for a career as a forensic accountant?
Most candidates for job openings as forensic accountants have similar education credentials. A bachelor’s and master’s in accounting degrees are typical. However, certain skills may set you apart from your competitors and give you the best job prospects.
Earning a certification is important, especially if applying to high profile firms and organizations. Many master’s in forensic accounting online programs on our list serve as preparation for certification, such as the CPA certification exam. According to BLS, every accountant filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is required by law to be a Certified Public Accountant or CPA. Also, CPA credentials enhance job prospects and help accountants gain clients. CPAs are state licensed and have passed the state’s Board of Accountancy national exam.
For forensic accountant jobs, successful candidates should possess skills and knowledge in credit card fraud, embezzlement, insurance fraud, and white-collar crimes. Thankfully, many of the online master’s in forensic accounting programs on our list offer classes in these areas of forensic accounting. It may even be beneficial for forensic accountants to have experience working with law enforcement or the criminal justice system since much of the job has to do with law and criminal justice.
What is the job outlook for individuals with a masters in forensic accounting online degree?
While the job outlook for accountants and auditors is projected to grow six percent through 2028, according to BLS, forensic accountants should anticipate an even more favorable job outlook.
BLS, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports a favorable job outlook for accountants due to globalization. This means that a growing economy will stimulate job growth. Over the next several years, a complex tax and regulatory tax environment will continue and lead to a demand for hiring new accountants and auditors. Those with specialized training, such as earning a master’s in forensic accounting online degree, should see the best job prospects.
However, even a demand for accountants to fill entry-level positions will exist through 2028 and possibly beyond. Strong competition for these entry-level positions will prompt accounting students to tailor their degree to serve niche populations. By earning a specialized accounting degree in forensic accounting or fraud examination, you will gain an advantage over your competitors vying for the same job. Individuals with an MBA in accounting and forensic accounting specialization should see the best job prospects.
Also, certification matters for employers. Several master’s in forensic accounting online programs on our list serve as preparation for certification examinations. By earning a certification, you will offer employers valuable expertise and give yourself an edge over the competition.
What is my earning potential with a masters in forensic accounting online degree?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for auditors and accountants, as of May 2018, was $70,500. The lowest ten percent of workers in this occupation earned $43,650 or less and the highest ten percent earned over $122,840.
We also examined salary reports at PayScale, a global compensation reporting organization. PayScale reported mid-career forensic accountants with five to nine years of experience earned a total compensation of $80,533. Experienced forensic accountants with ten to nineteen years of experience earned an average annual total compensation of $92,556. As of November 2019, the average salary for entry-level forensic accountants, such as recent college graduates, was $58,500.
Pay varies by industry. BLS reports the top four high-paying industries for accountants as finance and insurance, management of companies and enterprises, accounting and tax preparation services, and government agencies. Accountants working for finance and insurance organizations earned an average annual salary of $74,690. Individuals working as accountants in management of companies and enterprises earned a slightly lower annual salary of $73,180.
Most forensic accountants and auditors work full time. During certain times of the year, such as tax season, accountants and auditors work longer hours. It is not unusual for a forensic accountant to work more than forty hours per week. However, overtime pay is likely.