Forensic Accounting Degree – Everything You Need to Know


A Bachelor’s degree in Forensic Accounting is a specialized 4 year undergraduate program that combines principles of accounting, auditing, and investigation to equip students with the skills needed to analyze financial information for use in legal proceedings. Forensic accountants are often involved in internal auditing, investigating fraud, embezzlement, laundering, and other financial crimes, as well as in litigation support where they might act as expert witnesses in court.

My Bachelor’s degree in forensic accounting was a valuable springboard. The core accounting classes provided a strong foundation, and I actively sought out electives in fraud examination and financial statement analysis. These courses fueled my interest in forensic accounting and prepared me for further studies and industry certifications. Remember, a passion for investigative work and strong analytical skills are crucial for success in this field.
Devin Clark, forensic accountant at The Hartford

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Why Study for a Forensic Accounting Degree?

The demand for forensic accountants with strong investigative and analytical skills is on the rise. Fraud is a persistent threat across industries, and organizations are increasingly seeking professionals trained to detect and prevent financial crimes. A Bachelor’s degree in forensic accounting equips you with the foundational knowledge of accounting principles, auditing, and financial analysis. More importantly, it introduces you to specialized forensic accounting topics like fraud examination, anti-money laundering, and digital forensics. These specialized skills, coupled with a growing awareness of financial crime, make a Bachelor’s in forensic accounting a valuable asset for launching a career in this dynamic field.
Mary Jones, Executive Director, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)

Growing Demand for Forensic Accountants

The demand for forensic accountants is on the rise due to increasing regulatory reforms, heightened corporate governance standards, and a global upsurge in financial crimes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 7% from 2020 to 2030, with forensic accounting playing a crucial role in litigation support and fraud prevention, indicating a robust job market for graduates.

Attractive Earning Potential and Career Stability

Forensic accounting offers competitive salaries and long-term career stability, reflecting its critical role in both private sector and government operations. The median annual wage for accountants and auditors is $73,560, with higher earnings potential in specialized areas such as forensic accounting. Moreover, the specialized skill set of forensic accountants can lead to opportunities in high-paying roles such as financial examiners, where the median pay is $81,430 per year.

Diverse Career Opportunities

A degree in forensic accounting provides a versatile foundation for various career paths, including roles in internal auditing, fraud examination, legal consulting, and positions within federal agencies such as the FBI or IRS.

Forensic accountants are not limited to traditional accounting roles but are also sought after in law enforcement, legal consulting, and corporate finance, offering a wide array of career options. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) reports that CFEs (Certified Fraud Examiners) often engage in diverse activities, including investigative consulting, which underscores the broad applicability of skills acquired through a forensic accounting degree.

What is Covered?

Core Accounting Principles

  • Financial Accounting -Understanding the fundamentals of financial record-keeping, including preparing and interpreting financial statements.
  • Managerial Accounting –Learning how managers use accounting information to make business decisions.

Advanced Forensic Accounting Techniques

  • Forensic Analysis – Training in the methods for examining financial statements and transaction histories to identify signs of potential fraud and embezzlement.
  • Fraud Examination – Techniques for investigating cases of suspected fraud, including the use of technology to trace illicit transactions.

Legal Studies

  • Business Law – Knowledge of the legal environment in which businesses operate, focusing on contracts, commercial transactions, and corporate governance.
  • Criminal Law and Ethics – Insight into criminal law, especially as it relates to financial crimes, alongside ethical considerations in forensic accounting.


  • Internal Auditing – Learning about the processes and procedures used to ensure financial and operational integrity within organizations.
  • External Auditing – Understanding the role of independent audits in verifying the accuracy of financial information presented by organizations.

Investigative Techniques and Technology

  • Digital Forensics – Techniques for extracting and analyzing financial data from digital platforms and electronic storage devices.
  • Information Systems Security – Focus on protecting and securing financial information against unauthorized access and breaches.

Entry Requirements

Entry requirements for a bachelor’s degree in forensic accounting can vary widely depending on the institution. However, there are several common criteria that most universities and colleges consider when admitting students:

  1. High School Diploma or Equivalent – Applicants are generally required to have completed secondary education.
  2. GPA – Many programs have a minimum GPA requirement, often around 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, but this can vary.
  3. Mathematics Proficiency – A strong background in math is crucial for accounting. Schools may require specific coursework in algebra, calculus, or statistics at the high school level.
  4. Personal Statement or Essay – Applicants might need to submit an essay explaining their interest in accounting and their career goals.
  5. Letters of Recommendation – Letters from teachers, especially in relevant subjects like math or economics, can support an application by highlighting an applicant’s academic and personal strengths.
  6. Relevant Coursework – Completion of certain high school courses might be recommended or required, such as advanced courses in math, economics, and possibly introductory business.

For non-native English speakers, proof of English proficiency through tests like TOEFL or IELTS is necessary, especially in English-speaking countries or for programs taught in English.

Some programs may include an interview process, either in person or online, to assess the applicant’s suitability for the program and their understanding of forensic accounting.

How Much Does it Cost?

  • Public Institution: $12,394 – $35,000 (in-state tuition) per year. This translates to a total program cost range of roughly $49,576 – $140,000.
  • Private Institution: $37,095 – $55,000 per year. This translates to a total program cost range of roughly $148,380 – $220,000.
  • Online: $39,000-$84,000 total cost.

How Much Can You Earn?

A bachelor’s in forensic accounting opens the doors to a number entry level finance jobs many of which are strong platforms for career growth after a number of years of experience. For your first job after graduation, you can expect to earn $45,000-$60,000 depending upon the role, your location and the industry.

Which Jobs Can You Do?