Forensic Accounting Majors Guide

Table of Contents

What Does it Mean to Study Forensic Accounting?

A forensic accountant investigates suspected financial misconduct and helps to prepare the evidence used to argue a case in civil or criminal trials. This field is also referred to as "investigative accounting." A forensic accounting specialist works by auditing and verifying records, collecting evidence, and interviewing people involved in the case

A business degree in forensic accounting is ideal for you if you have excellent analytical and communication skills, are inquisitive by nature, and have a strong accounting operations understanding. You can be called upon as an expert witness in civil and criminal litigation cases, so it's important that you not only know how to collect all the information needed to support the investigation, but that you recognize the areas of concern, follow up on any inconsistencies, and can then present the data in a way that people outside of the accounting field can understand. There is an expectation that forensic accounting evidence will be aggressively challenged, so you should have a basic understanding of the legal process.

The Forensic Accountants Society of North America (FASNA) lists these common types of cases taken on by their membership:

  • Inventory/property loss
  • Employee dishonesty
  • Business income loss
  • Personal injury or wrongful death claims
  • Truth in lending/ truth in leasing
  • Post judgment matters/calculations
  • Loss of income/earnings
  • Divorce and fidelity claims
  • Business valuation
  • Expert testimony
  • Fraud

And their membership has worked on cases in the following industries:

Forensic Accounting
  • Consumer dealerships / retail and wholesale
  • Education institutions
  • Construction, contracting & engineering
  • Financial/money management
  • Healthcare
  • Indian tribal government
  • Insurance
  • Manufacturing
  • Not-for-profit/charitable
  • Real estate
  • Hospitality
  • State government
  • Travel and transportation
  • Trust and estate

As a forensic accountant, you can work within a firm or as a freelance consultant. Salaries for forensic accountants are usually higher because firms charge more for litigation support than for regular accounting. This is an industry that is expecting fast growth in opportunities as the number of white collar and cyber-crimes increase.

Types of Forensic Accounting Degrees

The standard education requirement for a forensic accountant is a four-year business degree in accounting or finance. You also need to have your CPA (Certified Public Accountant) designation and industry certification.

Certificate Programs and Master's Degrees

Online college courses, certificate programs and master's degrees in forensic accounting prepare the working professional to enter this field. These programs teach students to help with the litigation of contract disputes and bankruptcies, investigate white-collar and electronic crime, and navigate complicated and possibly criminal transactions like money laundering.

Browse master's degree programs in finance.

What Can You Do With a College Degree in Forensic Accounting?

Forensic accountants continue to be in high demand. As your professional experience grows, you can move into management positions within litigation support teams or gain partnership status at your firm.

Potential job titles for a forensic accountant include:

  • Consultant
  • Internal Auditor
  • IRS Auditor
  • GAO Auditor
  • Defense Department Auditor
  • SEC Accountant
  • Bankruptcy Specialist
  • Lawyer
  • Bank Examiner
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Defense Department Auditor

Forensic Accounting Certification and Licensure

Forensic accountants require a CPA license. To become a CPA, you must complete 150 credit hours of college-level education, which translates to about five years of bachelor's- and master's-level work. You must also pass all four parts of the Uniform Certified Public Accountants Exam, and have about two years of professional accounting experience.

You will also need forensic accounting industry certification, such as the Forensic Examiner Diplomat or the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) designation. The CFE designation denotes proven expertise in fraud prevention, detection and investigation. You will apply for your CFE designation after completing your bachelor's degree and passing the CFE exam.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

The Certified Forensic Accountant certification is an advanced credential that recognizes your expertise, additional training, experience, education, knowledge or skill in forensic accounting. It also proves that you have met all of your State Board of Accountancy requirements.


Accountants and Auditors, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm

Lawyers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm

Financial Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/financial-managers.htm

Return to the top

Pursue your Forensic Accounting Major today…

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.

Searching Searching ...

Prefer exploring options talking to our staff?
Call toll free now: 1.855.330.6938
Matching School Ads
4 Program(s) Found
  • Offers several scholarship opportunities for students who qualify.
  • Laptop computers are issued to each student at the beginning of their program.
  • Provides programs in health care, business, information technology, and graphic arts.
  • Respiratory Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

Our family of non-profit colleges admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.

Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
2 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
  • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
  • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
  • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
  • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
2 Program(s) Found
  • Allows students to transfer credits from non-U.S. colleges and universities after evaluation.
  • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
  • Its main campus is located in Fort Lauderdale, with campuses located throughout the State of Florida and internationally. 
  • Provides a Department of Student Services and Resources that assists students with résumé preparation, interviewing skills coaching, mock interviewing, professional development workshops, and more.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
2 Program(s) Found
  • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
  • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
  • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best Grad Schools for Physician Assistants in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Dedicated to delivering quality education and personalized attention to students since 1899.
  • Provides a range of campus experiences and services online including advising, tutoring, student community, and career services.
  • Offers counseling services and a 24/7 crisis hotline to students at no extra charge.
  • Gives students and alumni access to career assistants who help with resumes, cover letters, job hunting, and more.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
2 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked #1 on the list of Best Regional Universities in the North in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Ranked #1 on the list of Best Value Schools in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Ranked #3 on the list of Best Undergraduate Teaching Schools in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • A Roman Catholic Institution of higher learning founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842.
  • Provides a rigorous academic experience, rooted in the liberal arts.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses