A masters in forensic accounting can lead to a career that is exciting, fulfilling and interesting. This page has information about the programs, where they can be taken, the prospects, and more ...
But what is forensic accounting? "Forensic accounting" consists of "forensic", which has the connotation of criminal or investigative techniques, and "accounting", which is keeping track of all financial aspects of a business. Thus, a forensic accounting expert uses forensic accounting investigation to find and testify about criminal activities such as fraud, money laundering and terrorist activities related to economic and financial activities. Forensic accounting consultants might also offer resolution or mediation services to courts and attorneys.
Forensic accounting programs are often available online and aimed at the working professional. Some campus or land-based programs might be offered during evening or weekend time periods. This page deals mainly with programs studied by online learning and distance education but this web site also has a section on campus programs. If you are interested in other aspects of Criminal Justice, check out the pages for Forensic Science, Forensic Psychology, and Law Enforcement.
A forensic accounting master's degree may be offered as a Master of Science or a Master of Business Administration. Also, forensic accounting can be taken as a major or specialization in another masters. Listed below are various selected schools that have programs or majors in forensic accounting.
Attention to details, an understanding of the legislative system and the ability to follow investigative trails where there are numbers involved are the skills required for those interested in this type of accounting.
Some universities require an undergraduate degree in Accounting or Business Administration, others do not. In either case, the forensic accounting masters program will require coursework in criminology and forensic theory. Finding criminal activity is only one part of the job. The forensic accountant also needs to be able to present the information in an effective manner during trial proceedings. Courses should include learning about the judicial system, evidence gathering and management and techniques for interviewing.
Graduates of forensic accounting are expected to remain current on legislation and judicial system decisions that affect their field of expertise. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) offers certification for those who pass a written examination. In order to sit for the exam, an applicant must have accrued 50 points in a system that ranks experience, classwork and degrees granted. Two years of experience in related fields such as fraud examination or prevention and a master's degree qualify the individual to sit for the examination.
The career field is one that masters graduates can find exciting, fulfilling and interesting. Forensic accountants examine financial records to determine if there are irregularities or discrepancies that could indicate evidence of deliberate falsification. Payroll accounts and income statements are reviewed to look for evidence that the firm or individuals might be attempting to embezzle funds. The use of technology to follow the accounting trails is part of the forensic process. The importance of this career field is growing in part because of the increasing number of federal regulations directed at the prevention of fraud.
Because graduates will have studied accounting or auditing, there are many types of job openings available. Graduate may also include coursework in economics or business administration, leading to even more opportunities to find work upon graduation. Jobs are available within large corporations, or a forensic accountant might choose to go into private practice. There are many government positions that come open within the justice system, treasury and other branches of bureaucracy.
Forensic accounting employment is on the increase. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a growth in the number of forensic accounting jobs of around 22 percent from 2008 to 2018. This is higher than for most careers and is especially important because of the downturn in many other fields. It is believed that the projected growth is largely due to the increase in the number and complexity of regulations affecting and preventing accounting fraud.
Fraud examiners earned a median annual salary of $57,150 in 2008, while accountants and auditors earned a median salary of $59,430. Competition for the jobs will remain strong, in spite of the growth of positions in the field. This is largely due to the higher educational and certification requirements.
Browse the schools below to find a suitable school and program. Request information from several schools and compare the admission requirements and course content before you choose a program.
Wanjira Kinuthia, Georgia State University
Stewart Marshall, The University of the West Indies
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