Forensic accountants specialize in accounting practices but also lend support in litigation and investigative accounting settings. Forensic and fraud investigation is a growing field, and forensic accountants play a critical role in preventing, detecting, and investigating fraud. They typically prepare and conduct audits, explore fraud prevention options, and provide legal support in the courtroom.
Forensic accounting is a growing profession, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated 10 percent employment growth for accountants and auditors through 2026. Employers range from government departments such as the Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to insurance companies or public accounting firms. The median annual salary is $69,350 per year. Programs that help prepare students for the Certified Public Accountant and/or Certified Forensic Examiner exam can give graduates advantages when looking for jobs in this field.
Best College Reviews provides degree rankings, such as the Best Online Master's in Forensic Accounting, from carefully researched data sets published from government and non-profit organizations across the United States. Five primary factors affect how we rank degrees:
25% – Student Satisfaction
30% – Earning Potential
15% – Retention Data
20% – Affordability
10% – Acceptance Rates
For an in-depth breakdown of how we calculate each ranking, check out our Methodology page.
#10 CARLOW UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN FRAUD AND FORENSICS
In its Master of Science in Fraud and Forensic program, Carlow University – Pittsburgh teaches students about the latest in fraud prevention, detection, investigation, and remediation. Topics covered include risk assessment, economic damages, litigation support, and financial processes and reporting. Students can utilize the top anti-fraud resources through Carlow's partnership with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. The program also fulfills eligibility requirements for the CFE exam and meets Pennsylvania's 150-hour requirement for the CPA exam as well. Additionally, in conjunction with the National Cyber-Forensics and Trainings Alliance, Carlow University-Pittsburgh offers a graduate certificate in Cyber Threat Research and Analytics.
#9 SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY-MANCHESTER
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN FORENSIC ACCOUNTING
At Southern New Hampshire University-Manchester, students can specialize in forensic accounting and prepare for the Certified Public Accountant exam. The Master of Science in Forensic program is structured so that its content aligns with the content and skills specification outlines of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. In the program, students learn how to utilize forensic accounting examination policies and practices, and follow Internal Revenue Service rules for tax planning. Upon graduating, they are also able to analyze audit plans, and other practical skills for day-to-day use in the profession. SNH also offers tuition discounts for U.S. service members.
Tuition: $34, 984
#8 BAY PATH UNIVERSITY-LONGMEADOW
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN ACCOUNTING WITH A CONCENTRATION IN FORENSIC ACCOUNTING
Bay Path University-Longmeadow structures its Master of Science in Accounting with a concentration in Forensic Accounting so that students who begin the program in April or May can finish their degree by December, just in time for the accounting busy season in January. Bay Path University's requirements also fit those needed for CPA licensure. A flexible program, students need to complete 30 credits over 8, 12, or 24 months. For the forensic accounting concentration, courses include Contemporary Issues in Accounting, Fraud Examination, and Government and Nonprofit Accounting. By its completion, students are able to discuss and comply with international accounting standards and respond to ethical dilemmas.
#7 LA SALLE UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN ECONOMIC CRIME FORENSICS
In its specialized Master of Science in Economic Crime Forensics, La Salle University blends theory with practice so that students are able to apply what they're learning in the classroom to analyse and interpret real-life scenarios. The program is ideal for full-time professionals, as courses are eight weeks in length so that students can take two per semester. The degree is centered around core competencies including economic crime, legal and corporate compliance, economic risk analysis, and investigative practices. Courses include Leadership Assessment and Evaluation, Cybercrime, Cyber Espionage and Cyber War, Data Mining, and Criminal Justice and Legal Concepts. Twelve courses are required.
#6 SUNY POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN ACCOUNTANCY WITH A CERTIFICATE IN FORENSIC ACCOUNTING AND VALUATION
In preparation to enroll in the Master of Science in Accountancy at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, students can complete the Certificate in Forensic Accounting and Valuation. Consisting of four courses, the certificate program introduces students to fraud examination and forensic accounting. Nine credit hours from this certificate can be applied to the Master of Science program. The M.S. degree also satisfies the 150-hour licensure requirement for New York State so that students can then sit for the Certified Public Accountant exam. The program is also certified by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
#5 NEW ENGLAND COLLEGE
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN ACCOUNTING – FORENSIC ACCOUNTING CONCENTRATION
Ranked #118 by U.S. News and World Report's Best Online Graduate Business Programs (excluding MBA), New England College's Master of Science in Accounting with a concentration in Forensic Accounting balances traditional accounting theory with auditing and investigate tactics and skills. The program is on a rolling admissions schedule, so students are able to begin the program every seven weeks throughout the year. They typically finish the program in less than two years, learning about topics critical to the profession, including the ways in which accounting can mitigate risk, assist with auditing and financial reporting, and prepare taxes for organizations and institutions. NEC's degree is also accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
#4 STEVENSON UNIVERSITY
OWINGS MILLS, MD
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN FORENSIC ACCOUNTING
With its career-focused Master of Science in Forensic Accounting, Stevenson University teaches its students how to not only assess fraud risk and evaluate financial evidence but also how to discuss findings as an expert witness during legal proceedings. The program consists of 36-credit hours and can be completed entirely online. All courses are also taught by faculty members with real-world experience, and many of them hold legal- and/or business-oriented degrees. Included in students' coursework is a Mock Trial Capstone, which is unique about Stevenson's program. The capstone is designed to give students practical experience in presenting forensic evidence. Students also have the option to complete this aspect of the program in the university's mock trial-specific classroom.
#3 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN ACCOUNTING – FORENSIC ACCOUNTING
Liberty University's Master of Science in Accounting – Forensic Accounting helps students to identify and investigate accounting practices in order to promote fiscal responsibility. The program consists of 30 credit hours completed through eight-week courses. Liberty University is also accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, and the program itself has been ranked #108 by U.S. New and World Report for online business programs. The degree can be completed in one year, prepares students for the CPA exam, and tuition for it has not increased over the last three years.
#2 WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN FORENSICS AND FRAUD EXAMINATION
Ranked 63rd on U.S. News and World Report's list of online business graduate programs, West Virginia University's Master of Science in Forensics and Fraud Examination specializes in giving students real-world experience to prepare them for careers in litigation support, forensic accounting, and fraud examination. Students complete ten courses as part of the program, six of which are forensic and fraud examination courses and four of which mirror those taught in WVU's Master of Business Administration program. Together, this approach blends a traditional business curriculum with hands-on courses in forensic accounting and fraud examination.
#1 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY
BOCA RATON, FL
EXECUTIVE MASTER OF ACCOUNTING WITH A CONCENTRATION IN FORENSIC ACCOUNTING
At the top of the list is Florida Atlantic University's Executive Master of Accounting with a concentration in Forensic Accounting. The program's faculty members and guest speakers are well-acclaimed in their work, publishing articles and textbooks on the subject of forensic accounting. Students can start coursework in the spring, summer, or fall, and the program is on a rolling admissions deadline. They also receive comprehensive academic support and 24-hour technical support. While the program can be completed entirely online, students also have the option to attend lectures at the university's Fort Lauderdale campus on Saturday mornings.