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Forensic Accounting Associate Degree Programs

The field of forensic accounting is an emerging area of expertise that draws from the worlds of finance and law enforcement. In this article, you will find out what kinds of courses in criminology and auditing you will take as part of an associate degree program and how to become a Certified Public Accountant along the way.

How Can I Earn an Associate's Degree in Forensic Accounting?

Associate's degree programs in forensic accounting are extremely rare, and the subject is more commonly offered as a specialty in bachelor's degree programs. Master's degree or graduate certificate programs in forensic accounting are even more common. For these reasons, an associate's degree in accounting may qualify you for a position to assist a forensic accountant, but it may also whet your appetite to continue your education in order to obtain the appropriate bachelor's or master's degree.

You can find associate's degree programs in accounting offered at over 500 schools, as listed in the online directory of the National Center for Education Statistics. However, to find accredited schools offering undergraduate programs that emphasize forensic accounting, you'd be better off to consult the online directory maintained by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Degree LevelsAssociates, bachelors, and masters available
Common CoursesFinance, income tax, computer investigations, accounting research
CertificationExam through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Job Growth*10% for auditors and accountants from 2016-2026
Median Salary* $70,500 as of May 2018

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are Some Program Details?

Generally, it takes four years to complete a bachelor's degree program in accounting. Such a program typically consists of around 126 credits and can lead to a Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in forensic accounting. Schools may also offer a forensic accounting emphasis in programs leading to a Bachelor of Business Administration.

Typical courses you might encounter include fraud examination and identification, accounting research and analysis, principles of accounting, criminology, finance, auditing, income tax, computer investigations, and interview techniques. You may have a chance to serve an internship with a participating firm, organization or agency.

There are numerous opportunities for you to pursue programs online, either in a full- or part-time capacity. Usually delivered asynchronously, online programs in forensic accounting may be ideal for you if you're already employed in the accounting or finance field.

What Do I Need in Addition to a Degree?

In order to advance beyond a junior position in the field of forensic accounting, you must hold a license as a certified public accountant (CPA). Although each state has its own licensing requirements, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants administers a nationally accepted uniform CPA examination that you must pass. In order to qualify to sit for the exam, you must hold a bachelor's degree and have amassed at least 150 appropriate education credits, which is in excess of the number required for a typical bachelor's degree. A master's degree program can often provide you with the necessary extra credits.

What Are Some Career Projections and Salary Information?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) makes periodic projections for many occupations. In the field of forensic accounting, there are no projections made for individuals holding an associate's degree. However, there are employment projections for auditors and accountants who hold at least a bachelor's degree, and forensic accountants fall within this category.

The BLS projected that employment opportunities for auditors and accountants, in general, will increase 10% from 2016-2026 (www.bls.gov). This large increase may be due not only to changing financial laws and regulations, but also the need for more financial accountability, as techniques to commit fraud and white-collar crime adapt and mutate to out-pace the new laws and regulations. In May 2018, the BLS determined the median annual wage for auditors and accountants to be $70,500.