Master’s Degree in Forensic Accounting

By Staff Writer

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A Master’s degree in Forensic Accounting is a 1-2 year graduate program that equips students with advanced skills in financial investigations and analysis to detect and prevent fraud within financial systems. This degree combines elements of accounting, auditing, and law, focusing on teaching students how to apply accounting principles to legal issues, such as investigating white-collar crimes, resolving disputes, and ensuring compliance with financial regulations.

Find Your Degree

Why Get a Master’s in Forensic Accounting?

While a bachelor’s degree can provide a foundation for accounting, a Master’s in Forensic Accounting allows you to refine your focus and develop the specialized skillset sought after by employers. Dr. Harold Greene, a former FBI forensic accountant, once said, ‘In the world of white-collar crime, the details matter.’ A Master’s program equips you to dissect those details. You’ll learn advanced investigative techniques, data analysis methods, and even digital forensics to uncover hidden financial transactions or anomalies. Moreover, the program fosters collaboration and case study analysis, preparing you for the realities of working on complex financial crime investigations, often alongside legal teams. If you have a strong analytical mind and a desire to make a real difference in combating financial fraud, a Master’s in Forensic Accounting provides the necessary tools and knowledge to excel in this rewarding field.
TJ Salg, Forensic Accountant at Deloitte

Enhanced Earning Potential and Career Advancement

Specialists in forensic accounting are often compensated at a premium due to their ability to handle complex financial investigations. This specialization opens up opportunities for advancement into senior roles that require niche skills.

A survey by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) reports that Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs), many of whom have a background in forensic accounting, earned 34% more than their non-certified peers in similar roles.

Diverse Career Opportunities Across Industries

Forensic accountants are not limited to accounting firms; they are needed in a variety of settings including law enforcement agencies, legal firms, insurance companies, government departments, and corporations in virtually every industry.

The ACFE 2020 Report to the Nations highlighted that organizations lose an estimated 5% of their annual revenue to fraud, illustrating the critical role forensic accountants play in a wide range of sectors to combat and investigate financial discrepancies and fraudulent activities.

What’s Covered?

Core Courses

  • Principles of Forensic Accounting – Introduction to the field, including the roles and responsibilities of forensic accountants, ethical considerations, and the typical workflows involved in forensic investigations.
  • Fraud Detection and Prevention – Techniques and tools used to identify fraudulent activities, including data analysis methods, use of technology in fraud detection, and preventative measures to mitigate fraud risks.
  • Forensic Auditing – Advanced auditing courses focused on the specific procedures used to conduct audits with the intent of uncovering fraudulent activities, including the examination of financial statements and internal control systems.
  • Legal Aspects of Forensic Accounting – Overview of the legal framework relevant to forensic accounting, including laws related to financial crimes, the role of forensic accountants in litigation, and the process of presenting evidence in court.
  • Digital Forensics – Application of digital forensic science techniques to recover and investigate material found in digital devices, often in relation to computer crime and digital fraud.
  • Interview Techniques and Dispute Resolution – Skills for conducting effective interviews to gather accurate information and techniques for resolving disputes, often involving mediation or arbitration between parties.
  • Economic Damages Calculation – Methods for quantifying economic damages in legal disputes involving issues such as contract breaches, business interruptions, and intellectual property infringements.

Elective Courses

  • Corporate Governance and Internal Controls – Study of governance structures and internal controls that can prevent fraud and ensure compliance with regulations.
  • Insurance Claims Examination – Techniques specific to investigating and resolving insurance fraud.
  • Bankruptcy and Insolvency Analysis – Analyzing financial statements and operations of businesses to detect solvency issues and potential fraudulent behavior that may lead to bankruptcy.
Earning a Master’s in Forensic Accounting wasn’t easy, but it was incredibly rewarding. The program was intense, demanding a high level of critical thinking and analytical skills. We delved deep into complex financial concepts, fraud examination techniques, and legal procedures relevant to financial crimes. Be prepared to spend a significant amount of time analyzing financial statements, learning how to identify red flags and potential irregularities. The program incorporated real-world case studies, which provided invaluable experience in applying theoretical knowledge to practical situations. The collaborative nature of the program surprised me. We worked in teams to dissect complex financial crimes, fostering strong communication and teamwork skills, essential for working with legal professionals on real investigations.
Luisa Morales, Forensic Accountant at Kaufman Rossin


Here is a sample curriculum:


Year 1

Fall Semester

  1. Foundations of Forensic Accounting
    • Overview of forensic accounting, including its history, key concepts, and the role of forensic accountants in various contexts.
  2. Fraud Examination Techniques
    • Detailed examination of fraud types, schemes, and the techniques used to detect and prevent fraud in organizations.
  3. Advanced Financial Accounting
    • In-depth study of complex financial accounting issues, consolidation, multinational accounting, and partnership accounting.
  4. Legal Elements of Fraud
    • Introduction to the legal aspects of fraud, including laws, regulations, and the role of the forensic accountant in the legal process.

Spring Semester

  1. Forensic Auditing
    • Focus on the auditing process specific to forensic accounting, including the tools and strategies used to conduct forensic audits.
  2. Digital Forensics and Data Analysis
    • Application of information technology in forensic investigations, including data extraction and analysis techniques essential for uncovering financial crimes.
  3. Ethics and Professional Responsibility
    • Study of ethical issues in accounting and finance, focusing on ethical decision-making and professional standards in forensic accounting.
  4. Elective: E.g., Corporate Governance and Internal Controls, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Analysis, or Insurance Claims Examination.

Year 2

Fall Semester

  1. Economic Damages and Business Valuation
    • Methods and techniques for valuing businesses and calculating economic damages in litigation contexts.
  2. Interview Techniques and Fraud Psychology
  • Techniques for conducting effective interviews and understanding the psychological factors that contribute to fraudulent behavior.
  1. Advanced Topics in Forensic Accounting
  • Exploration of emerging issues and advanced topics in the field, such as international forensic accounting and complex financial instruments.
  1. Elective: E.g., Advanced Taxation for Forensic Accountants, Financial Statement Analysis, or Special Topics in White-Collar Crime.

Spring Semester

  1. Capstone Project
  • A comprehensive project or thesis that involves applying forensic accounting principles and techniques to a real-world case study or research topic.

Entry Requirements

  • Bachelor’s Degree –  A bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, typically in accountingfinancebusiness administration, or a related field.
  • Minimum GPA – A minimum undergraduate GPA, often around 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, although more competitive programs may have higher requirements.
  • GMAT or GRE Scores – Many programs require GMAT or GRE scores, although some may waive this requirement based on professional experience or a particularly high undergraduate GPA.
  • Relevant Work Experience – Some programs prefer or require applicants to have professional experience in accounting, auditing, law enforcement, or a related field.
  • Letters of Recommendation: -Usually two or three letters of recommendation from academic instructors or professional supervisors who can attest to the candidate’s potential for success in graduate studies.
  • Statement of Purpose – A personal statement detailing the applicant’s career objectives, interest in forensic accounting, and reasons for pursuing a Master’s degree in the field.
  • Resume – Submission of a current resume that outlines professional experience, educational background, and any relevant certifications or skills.
  • Prerequisite Courses – Completion of prerequisite courses in accounting and possibly law or criminal justice, depending on the program’s focus and requirements.
  • Interview – Some programs may require an interview, either in person or online, to assess the applicant’s commitment and suitability for the program.

International applicants from non-English speaking countries often need to provide TOEFL or IELTS scores to demonstrate proficiency in English.


  • Public Institution: total program cost range $37,230 – $59,862.
  • Private Institution: total program cost range $80,791 – $237,280.
  • Online Master’s Degree: total program cost range $21,000 – $43,000