Earn a Forensic Accounting Degree
- $320/credit (120 total credits)
- Transfer up to 90 credits
- Financial examiners to grow 18% by 2030, $81,410 median salary1
- 24/7 online access to the classroom
- Program accredited by ACBSP
- Start your journey to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
Online Forensic Accounting Degree Concentration Overview
Focus your accounting education on the investigation of financial records to detect fraud with the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Accounting with a concentration in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination degree.
With a forensic accounting degree online, you'll build a strong foundation of traditional accounting knowledge, explore the auditing process in depth, and gain key investigative skills to identify, document and prevent fraud and cyber crime.
You can finish your degree armed with the critical thinking skills and essential business knowledge you need to begin a rewarding career in the forensic accounting field.
With the core of the BS Accounting aligned to major content areas of the revised Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, launching January 2024, you can take your career in forensic accounting even further.
Learn how to:
- Analyze and apply accounting rules and regulations
- Generate financial records and prepare tax returns
- Effectively communicate accounting information
- Audit financial information and controls
- Apply ethics to conduct and decision-making
Prepare to become a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). The CFE credential can help you stand out to employers, as it denotes proven expertise in fraud prevention, detection and deterrence. CFEs are credentialed by the national Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. In order to take the CFE exam, you'll need a master's degree and work experience, but an undergraduate forensic accounting degree can provide the first step toward becoming a CFE.
Accelerated BS-to-MS Pathway Option. Planning a future beyond your bachelor's? An accelerated BS-to-MS pathway option is also available. This lets you:
- Save money: Take up to 4 graduate-level courses (12 credits) during your bachelor's program at the online undergraduate tuition rate
- Save time: Apply your graduate credits to your master's degree to complete your program in as fast as one year
If you're interested in pursuing the BS-to-MS pathway option, have a discussion with your academic advisor to ensure you meet all of the academic requirements.
With a forensic accounting degree online, you can work at the intersection of law and finance.
"Working in this field, I have found that many local, state and federal government agencies – as well as private sector companies – consider people with my background critical," said Sean Ball '14 '17G '19MBA. "I was confident I could perform the work required for the position I was seeking."
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), fraud and financial crimes cause billions of dollars in losses for companies worldwide every year. In 2022, 46% of surveyed organizations reported experiencing fraud, corruption or other economic crimes in the last 24 months.2
As financial crime has grown, much of the responsibility for detecting fraud has been assumed by the accounting profession.
Forensic accountants investigate fraud in complicated financial transactions. These include mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies and contract disputes. Forensic accountants are also key players in catching white-collar criminals and bringing them to justice.
With an online forensic accounting degree, you can work in a variety of settings, including:
- Accounting firms
- Insurance companies
- Law offices
- Governmental agencies
"Without my degree, I would have worked much harder climbing to an accountant position from where I started as an accounts payable clerk," said April Cutler '18. "With my degree, I was able to accept a staff accountant 2 position with the company I am currently employed at, that wouldn’t have been an option without a degree in accounting."
Earning an online accounting degree with a forensic accounting concentration can give you the specialized skills you need to stand out in this growing field.
“The accountant role is changing. Accountants need to be more than just technically proficient in accounting,” said Mona Stephens, accounting faculty lead at SNHU. “The accountant of the future needs to be intellectually curious, always learning, able to figure out how to solve problems, analyze and visualize data, and effectively communicate with non-accountants.”
With a forensic accounting and fraud examination degree, you could work in a variety of accounting careers, including:
- Public accountant: Perform a range of accounting, auditing, tax and consulting tasks for corporations, government agencies and individuals.
- Management accountant: Record and analyze the financial information of an organization, for use by business managers and company leaders.
- Internal auditor: Check for mismanagement of an organization’s funds and identify ways to improve the processes for finding and eliminating waste and fraud.
- External auditor: Review clients’ financial statements and inform investors and authorities that the statements have been correctly prepared and reported.
- Financial examiner: Ensure compliance with laws governing financial institutions and transactions, including reviewing balance sheets, evaluating the risk level of loans and assessing bank management.
Job growth and earning potential vary depending on the career you pursue with your online forensic accounting degree.
For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for accountants will grow 7% through 2030. In 2021, accountants earned a median salary of $77,250. Jobs for financial examiners are projected to grow 18% through 2030, and earned a median salary of $81,410 in 2021.1
Your career and earning potential will also be impacted by your training. Most accounting jobs require a bachelor’s degree. But some will require a master's degree or professional credentials.
An undergraduate forensic accounting degree is a big step toward earning key accounting certifications.
Want to put your forensic accounting degree to work as a fraud examiner? Becoming a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) can help you stand out to employers. The CFE credential denotes proven expertise in fraud prevention, detection and deterrence. CFEs are credentialed by the National Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and must pass a certification exam.3
Some forensic accounting positions may also require you to be a Certified Public Accountant. CPAs are licensed by their state accounting board. While state requirements vary, CPAs must have completed 150 hours of college coursework and pass a certification exam.3 The online Bachelor of Science in Accounting is aligned to the 2024 CPA exam change, ensuring you build the skills you need to become a U.S. Certified Public Accountant. You'll build a foundation in financial analysis, general accounting principles, auditing, taxation and more.
The content of our programs aligns with the Content and Skill Specification Outlines (CSOs/SSOs) set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Learners who are interested in licensure may also pursue an MS in Accounting degree to help them meet educational requirements. Completion of the BS in Accounting degree alone does not adequately prepare learners to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam or to become licensed certified public accountants.
Licensing requirements to sit for the CPA exam vary from state to state. Students are encouraged to review their state specific requirements. State-by-state educational requirements can be found on the website of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), while state-by-state CPA licensing requirements can be found through the Accounting Licensing Library, powered by the NASBA.
For more information, visit our license and disclosures page.
Start Your Journey Towards an Online Forensic Accounting Concentration Degree
Why SNHU for Your Forensic Accounting Degree Concentration
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
As part of our mission to make higher education more accessible, we’re committed to keeping our tuition rates low. In fact, we offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), a regional accreditor, which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, SNHU has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
- U.S. News & World Report named SNHU the 2021 Most Innovative University in the North and one of the nation's "Best Regional Universities"
- Awarded the 21st Century Distance Learning Award for Excellence in Online Technology by The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA)
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 300,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate the field. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU (according to a 2019 survey of 9,200+ online students). Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Expanding access to quality higher education means removing the barriers that may stand between you and your degree. That’s why you can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials:
- Completed free undergraduate application
- Prior transcripts, which we can retrieve at no cost to you
- Test scores are not required as part of your application
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 6 (8-week) undergraduate terms.
How to Apply
If you’re ready to apply, follow these simple steps to get the process going:
- Complete a free undergraduate application
- Submit any additional documents required
- Work with an admission counselor to explore financial options and walk through the application process
If you have questions or need help filling out your application, call 1.888.387.0861 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courses & Curriculum
SNHU’s forensic accounting degree online can give you a strong foundation in accounting and financial analysis. Forensic accounting courses focused on fraud detection and investigation can supplement your core accounting classes.
The online forensic accounting degree also includes a strong foundation in general business courses. Business core courses include:
- Business law
- Business systems analysis and design
- Human relations
- Strategic management
These courses ensure you understand and can incorporate key business concepts into accounting and auditing roles.
"What originally attracted me to the forensic accounting program was the fact that it offers a combination of elements from accounting, law and criminal justice," said Sean Ball '14 '17G '19MBA. "This program takes the concepts of accounting and shows you how to apply them in both law and criminal justice matters. This is also what separates the forensic accounting program from other programs, as at the end of the day you have a hybrid major of elements from accounting, law and criminal justice. This is a combination that is not offered in other programs."
You can also build valuable career skills with general education courses, including writing, analysis and quantitative reasoning skills.
In your primary accounting courses, you’ll explore a variety of topics, including:
- General accounting principles
- Financial statement analysis
- Business law
Your forensic accounting courses dive deeper into the investigation, detection and prevention of fraud.
You’ll focus on the prevention of accounting frauds, stock frauds and employee theft and embezzlement. You’ll learn how to investigate and recognize fraud within an organization and how to implement the latest techniques for controlling it.
You can also learn how to review, detect and investigate possible financial statement fraud and assess the risks of this type of fraud.
One of your online forensic accounting courses will also cover interview principles and techniques that are key to fraud investigations. In this course, you’ll be exposed to some of the legal aspects related to the identification and prosecution of fraud.
You can also learn about the importance of technology in the detection and prevention of modern financial crime. You’ll learn more about computer crime and how to work with digital evidence. You can explore identity theft, locating digital evidence, working with data and presenting investigative findings. Case studies of cyber crime examples can help you apply your learning to real-world situations.
In addition to required embedded certifications throughout the program, you'll have the option to further supplement your knowledge. Additional credentials include:
- Wiley Excel for Accountants. Use Excel for mission-critical tasks such as calculating profits, losses and margins; doing what-if analysis; and analyzing large data sets.
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) certifications. Manage software to enter returns, communicate with underserved populations about tax compliance and serve the community while learning detailed tax requirements directly from the IRS.
- Certificates in key soft skill areas. Build professional skills including leadership, critical thinking, creative problem solving, digital readiness in the working world, negotiation and more.
Want even more hands-on learning opportunities? SNHU’s career advising team can also help you set up an accounting internship to supplement your learning. An internship is not required to earn a forensic accounting degree online. But real-world experience can help you develop key soft skills and ultimately find success in your field.
These skills include:
- Communication: Effectively share financial information with internal and external audiences.
- Analysis: Gather and review financial data to identify fraud and examine financial risk.
- Problem-solving: Connect classroom learning and hands-on experience to solve real-world problems.
- Decision-making: Apply professional ethics to make decisions in the field of accounting.
As an online student, you can also benefit from a variety of learning opportunities. You’ll have access to virtual tutoring and writing services. You can even join online clubs and student organizations to supplement your learning and grow your personal network.
"The support that SNHU offered me allowed me to fulfill my dream of graduating with high honors," said April Cutler '18, who also served as a graduation speaker during her graduation ceremony. "I did just that, graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0. This opened an invitation to be a student speaker. Standing before my kids on Mother’s Day, not only finally getting my degree, but representing my class, was the proudest moment I have ever experienced."
You'll also have access to a full range of career services. Career services include networking opportunities, resume and cover letter review, mock interviews and more. These services are even available after you graduate.
SNHU’s generous transfer policy can also help you save time and money when earning your degree. You can transfer up to 90 credits toward a bachelor’s degree program. With the maximum transfer credit load, you could earn your degree in as few as 5 terms, or 10 courses.
Curriculum Requirements & Resources
- Business core: Business programs require learners to complete the business core program, which includes a variety of business-specific courses. This program focuses on 10 core competencies to prepare you for success wherever you go.
- General education courses: All online bachelor's degree students are required to take general education classes, if not obtained in prior coursework. Through these foundation, exploration and integration courses, students learn to think critically, creatively and collaboratively, giving you the edge employers are looking for.
- Technology resources: We provide cloud-based virtual environments in some courses to give you access to the technology you need for your degree – and your career. Learn more about our virtual environments.
- Earn math credits for what you already know: Save time and tuition with our Pathways to Math Success assessments. Depending on your scores, you could earn up to 12 math credits – the equivalent of 4 courses – toward your degree for less than $50 per assessment.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|BS in Accounting - Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination|
|Courses May Include|
|BS in Accounting - Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination|
|ACC 201||Financial Accounting||Students will learn the steps of the accounting cycle and how to prepare financial statements in accordance with industry established rules and regulations. Students will develop skills needed to analyze financial accounting information, communicate this information to stakeholders, and understand the accounting procedures that produce this information.|
|ACC 202||Managerial Accounting||Students will explore the financial impact of short-term and long-term business decisions. By learning how accounting and other productivity information can be used to assess and improve performance of an organization, managers will be provided the essential information they need to execute growth strategies and select opportunities that create business value.|
|ACC 311||Cost Accounting||In this course, students will gather cost data and behavior trends to support the development of cost reports. Students will analyze the data and communicate findings to stakeholders to support their understanding of business costs and inform business operations and decisions.|
|ACC 317||Intermediate Accounting I||In this course, students will take an in-depth look at financial statement elements and the interplay of various financial transactions represented on a financial statement. Students will apply theoretical frameworks and research accounting principles and concepts for the proper preparation and interpretation of financial statements. Students will utilize authentic industry tools and technologies to prepare financial statements and connect concepts learned to the importance of financial information for its users.|
|ACC 421||Auditing and Forensic Accounting||In this course students will learn about classic fraud types and the impact that fraud can have on an organization. Students will identify red flags associated with occupational fraud types and analyze methods to detect, prevent, and deter fraud. Students will discuss the legal impacts of fraud examination procedures.|
|ACC 423||Detection/Prevention Fraudulent Financial Statements||In this course, students will learn how to analyze financial statement fraud to identify and interpret red flags associated with related fraud schemes. Various detection techniques will be used to identify the fraud and assess the risks to an organization. Students will also explore strategies to prevent fraud and make recommendations to stakeholders for approaches to use to mitigate fraud within their organization.|
|ACC 425||Interview Techniques/Legal Aspects Fraud||In this course, students will take a deeper look into the impact of the legal process on fraud investigations within organizations. Students will learn characteristics of fraudsters and analyze the behaviors of individuals who commit fraud. Students will learn about characteristics of a good interview, interview strategies, and questioning techniques which they will apply to various scenarios.|
|ACC 427||Investigating with Computers||In this course, students will learn about common computer fraud schemes and their impact on organizations. Students will determine digital detection and prevention techniques to address cybercrime by learning about authentic digital forensic tools. Students will present their findings and conclusions to internal stakeholders.|
|Total Credits: 120|
Minimum Hardware Requirements
PC (Windows OS)
Apple (Mac OS)
Currently supported operating system from Microsoft.
Currently supported operating system from Apple.
8GB or higher
8GB or higher
100GB or higher
100GB or higher
Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.
Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.
SNHU Purchase Programs
5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency
5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency
- Laptop or desktop? Whichever you choose depends on your personal preference and work style, though laptops tend to offer more flexibility.
- Note: Chromebooks (Chrome OS) and iPads (iOS) do not meet the minimum requirements for coursework at SNHU. These offer limited functionality and do not work with some course technologies. They are not acceptable as the only device you use for coursework. While these devices are convenient and may be used for some course functions, they cannot be your primary device. SNHU does, however, have an affordable laptop option that it recommends: Dell Latitude 3301 with Windows 10.
- Office 365 Pro Plus is available free of charge to all SNHU students and faculty. The Office suite will remain free while you are a student at SNHU. Upon graduation you may convert to a paid subscription if you wish. Terms subject to change at Microsoft's discretion. Review system requirements for Microsoft 365 plans for business, education and government.
- Antivirus software: Check with your ISP as they may offer antivirus software free of charge to subscribers.
Accounting Technical Requirements
Video Communication Platform:
- Mac or PC desktop or laptop (not a mobile device or tablet)
- Required: At least 1 Mbps upload/download speed
Internet Connectivity for Virtual Labs:
- Recommended: 5Mbps upload/download speed with less than 40ms latency
Tuition & Fees
As a private, nonprofit university, we’re committed to making college more accessible by making it more affordable. That’s why we offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation.
We also offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, plus a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
|Online Undergraduate Programs||Per Course||Per Credit Hour||Annual Cost for 30 credits|
|Degree/Certificates (U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)*||$675||$225||$6,750|
Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually. *Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.
Additional Costs No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you become a forensic accountant?
If you want to become a forensic accountant, a strong foundation of accounting education is key. Accounting jobs typically require at least a bachelor’s degree. Some jobs may require a master’s degree or certification.1
Forensic accountants often investigate fraud in complicated financial transactions. These include mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies and contract disputes. Forensic accountants also help catch white-collar criminals and bring them to justice.
Earning a forensic accounting degree online can give you the skills you need to get started in this exciting field.
In SNHU’s online forensic accounting degree concentration, you’ll explore the auditing process and learn how to detect, document and prevent fraud. You’ll also learn key investigative techniques. These include interviewing skills, data analysis and cyber crime prevention.
You can apply your coursework to real-world learning opportunities, such as an internship, to gain key career skills and help prepare you for future success.
You may need additional credentials beyond a bachelor's degree, depending on the forensic accounting job you want.
If you're interested in a career in fraud examination, you might want to consider becoming a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). A forensic accounting degree at SNHU can help prepare you to sit for the CFE exam. This, in turn, could help specialize your experience and differentiate you to future employers.
If, on the other hand, you’re interested in becoming a CPA, a BS in Accounting is a good place to start. CPAs are licensed by their state accounting board and typically must have completed 150 hours of college coursework and pass a CPA exam.3 Licensing requirements to sit for the CPA exam vary from state to state, so it’s important to review your state-specific requirements.
If you want to enhance your knowledge and advance your forensic accounting career, a forensic accounting master’s degree can help. At SNHU, you can pursue an MS in Accounting online with a concentration in forensic accounting.
A master’s degree program online, or on campus, can give you the advanced accounting knowledge and professional business skills you need to advance a forensic accounting career.
Is forensic accounting a major?
It depends. At some colleges and universities, forensic accounting may be a major. At others, it may be the topic of a course within a traditional accounting degree program.
At SNHU, forensic accounting is offered as a degree concentration. With a concentration, you get the foundation of a traditional accounting degree with a focus on forensic accounting and fraud examination.
In the forensic accounting degree concentration, you’ll complete 12 credits of forensic accounting courses. These courses will dive deep into the detection and investigation of financial crime.
You’ll explore the detection, documentation and prevention of accounting frauds, stock frauds and employee theft and embezzlement. You’ll also examine types of fraud and how to assess the risks of financial fraud.
You can also gain key investigative skills you can apply to a forensic accounting or auditing career. You'll explore interviewing skills to aid the investigation of fraud. And you’ll explore how to use data analysis and technology to investigate cyber crime. You can also learn how to present digital evidence during a fraud investigation.
After graduating, you’ll be prepared to take on forensic accounting roles in accounting firms, insurance companies, law offices and government agencies.
Want to take your career even further? You could also continue your education in SNHU’s accounting master’s degree program with a forensic accounting concentration, or even an undergraduate or graduate accounting certificate online. A master's degree could help open up opportunities to the career you want.
What do you major in to become a forensic accountant?
To become a forensic accountant, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Earning an online forensic accounting degree could be a strong place to start.
In SNHU’s forensic accounting degree concentration, you’ll be taught the basics of how to become a forensic accountant. You’ll learn key accounting practices and gain a deeper understanding of the standards used to evaluate them. You’ll also explore how to review and analyze financial statements for evidence of wrongdoing. With this training, you can be ready to spot the symptoms of fraud.
You can also gain a strong foundation of traditional accounting education. Courses will focus on cost accounting, advanced accounting techniques, federal taxation and business law.
An online forensic accounting degree can prepare you for reputable industry credentials, such as Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). Becoming a CFE can help you stand out to employers, as it denotes proven expertise in fraud prevention, detection and deterrence. CFEs are credentialed by the national Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
An online forensic accounting degree is a great first step toward becoming a CPA as well. Having a CPA can be beneficial if you plan to pursue a career as a forensic accountant.
What is the starting salary for a forensic accountant?
It depends on where you work, your job and your level of education. Jobs for forensic accountants can be found in a variety of industries, including accounting firms, government agencies and law offices. And starting salaries can vary.
BLS does not have salary data specific to forensic accountants. But in 2021, accountants earned a median salary of $77,250. The lowest paid 10% earned less than $47,970 and the highest paid 10% earned more than $128,970.1
Accountants working in finance and insurance earned the highest median income in 2021, at $79,310. Accountants working in government agencies had the lowest median income at $77,290.1
Your earning potential can also be impacted by your education. Workers with a master’s degree, for example, typically earn about 18% more each week than bachelor’s degree holders.1
Is forensic accounting a good career?
Looking for a rewarding career that brings together the world of accounting with criminal justice? A job in forensic accounting could be right for you.
Employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 7% from 2020 to 2030. Jobs for financial examiners are projected to grow 18% in the same time period.1
Technological advances are also expected to impact the field, as cyber crimes evolve and become more common.2 With a degree in forensic accounting, you’ll gain a strong understanding of how technology affects the role of accounting. You’ll be prepared to use technology to monitor and detect fraud and financial crimes.
"My proudest accomplishment since starting this program is the fact that every day, in small ways, I can make a meaningful and positive impact in the world around me," said Sean Ball '14 '17G '19MBA. "We are the ones who hold people accountable for taking advantage of others. That has been a rewarding experience that is hard for me to express in words."
SNHU’s forensic accounting degree can give you specialized knowledge you can apply to an accounting job right away. Or, you could use your bachelor's degree learning to advance your education – and your career – with an accounting master’s degree.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
Sources & Citations (1, 2, 3)
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at:
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm (viewed June 1, 2022)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-examiners.htm (viewed June 1, 2022)
- https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm (viewed June 1, 2022)
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
2PWC, Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey, on the internet, at: https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/services/advisory/forensics/economic-crime-survey.html (viewed Dec. 10, 2021)
3Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, The CFE Credential, on the internet, at: https://www.acfe.com/cfe-credential.aspx (viewed Dec. 10, 2021)