Boost Your Forensic Accounting Career
- $627 per credit for 12 credits
- Complete in as little as 20 weeks
- Start your path toward an advanced career in forensic accounting
- Upskill for the job you want
- Become adept in fraud detection and prevention
- Accountant/auditor jobs expected to grow 4% through 20291
Graduate Certificate in Forensic Accounting Program Overview
Dig deeper into the world of investigative accounting by enrolling in the online Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination Graduate Certificate at Southern New Hampshire University. Gain an eye for detail with a background in accounting basics and legal concepts while you learn from faculty with real-world forensic accounting expertise.
The graduate forensic accounting certificate online can prepare you for specific accounting practices, including mergers and acquisitions, tax investigations, economic crime investigations, civil litigation support, specialized audits and terrorism investigations.
SNHU's forensic accounting courses can provide you with the advanced skills you need to succeed in higher-level positions. It also can better position you to take the Certified Fraud Examiner exam through the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
Learn how to:
- Detect and prevent fraudulent statements
- Understand the legal aspects of fraud
Should you choose to further your education beyond a certificate program, the 4 forensic accounting courses in the certificate are actually 4 of the 12 classes you'd need to complete your MS in Accounting with a concentration in Forensic Accounting.
"This could be valuable for students who need an additional degree for advancement or for a student who needs more content to prepare for the CPA exam," said Mona Stephens, accounting faculty lead at SNHU.
SNHU provides additional information for education programs on our Licensure and Certification Disclosures page. View disclosure information.
Forensic accounting combines accounting principles with the detection and prevention of fraud against the government, corporations, organizations and individuals.
The demand for professionals with accounting certificates and accounting degrees is rising, creating a strong job market for those with an accounting background. Accounting and auditing career opportunities are expected to grow 4% through 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – the same as the average growth rate for all occupations.1 In 2019 alone, about 1.4 million were employed as accountants and/or auditors.1
And forensic accountants have become crucial to business since – according to a 2020 survey – 47% of organizations had experienced fraud in the last 2 years.2 That's about $42 billion lost in that time period.2
That could be why accountants are paid so well. The median annual salary for all accountants and auditors was $71,550 in May 2019, more than $30,000 more than the median pay for all occupations.1
The BLS also notes that accountants and auditors who have earned professional recognition should have an advantage in the job market.
And that works out well for those pursuing SNHU's forensic accounting certificate. That's because the 4 forensic accounting courses you'll take can help in preparing you for the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) exam.
What can CFE certification do for your career? According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners3:
- You could earn about 34% more than non-certified colleagues.
- You can increase your marketability, since CFE is known as the standard of excellence.
- You could help your company's bottom line: The ACFE notes that CFEs uncover fraud about 50% sooner.
At this point, you might be most interested in the pay. The median annual salary for forensic accountants in 2017-18 was $82,938.3
However, when you add CFE certification on to that, your pay has the potential to bump up. A lot. According to ACFE, credentialed CFEs earned a median annual salary of $104,500 in 2017-18 – over $20k more than their non-certified counterparts.3
Forensic accountants also have plenty of choices as to where they could work. The ACFE reports that employment3 of forensic accountants takes place with:
- Consulting firms, like those that focus on risk consulting or forensic accounting
- Financial institutions
- Forensic accounting divisions at public accounting firms
- Government organizations
- Insurance companies
- Law enforcement agencies
NOTE: Students applying for SNHU's online forensic accounting certificate program must also submit a resume showing 2 years of accounting experience – specifically in auditing and financial reporting analysis – for consideration. A forensic accounting certificate on its own does not qualify you for a specific job or career. However, when both a bachelor's in accounting or a related discipline and a certificate in forensic accounting are combined, they can give you a leg up if you're seeking to advance in your current role, or they can give you an opportunity to tap into a new area of business.
Start Your Journey Toward an Online Forensic Accounting Certificate
Why SNHU For Your Graduate Certificate in Forensic Accounting
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of 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 regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), 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:
- “Most Innovative” regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
- Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 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.4 Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Part of our mission to expand access to quality higher education means removing many of 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.
In addition to providing undergraduate transcripts, the graduate certificate in forensic accounting requires prospective students to submit a resume showing 2 years of accounting experience in auditing and financial reporting analysis.
How to Apply
Simply contact an admission counselor, who can help answer all your questions and walk you through the application process, which includes:
- Completing a graduate application
- Providing undergraduate transcripts
- Submitting a resume showing 2 years of accounting experience in auditing and financial reporting analysis
Courses & Curriculum
The online forensic accounting certificate can introduce you to a range of advanced forensic accounting and fraud examination topics, including legal aspects of fraud and the role of technology in detection and prevention.
Throughout your courses, you'll learn:
- A basic understanding of fraud, prevention and detection
- Types of fraud, and various techniques to find them
- Interview principles and techniques
- Best practices for computer investigations
Those who take part in the forensic accounting certificate program typically do so to prepare for the Certified Fraud Examiner exam.
"Students learn to identify the red flags that indicate various types of fraud, fraud schemes and scams," said Mona Stephens, accounting faculty lead at Southern New Hampshire University. "Projects are completed that demonstrate understanding in recognizing legal and regulatory issues, how to conduct fraud examinations and interviews, as well as use of technology and analytics in fraud examinations."
The 4 classes in the online forensic accounting certificate program also transfer into SNHU's MS in Accounting with a concentration in Forensic Accounting, leaving you with only 8 classes to complete a full master's degree.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|Graduate Certificate in Forensic Accounting & Fraud Examination|
|Courses May Include|
|Graduate Certificate in Forensic Accounting & Fraud Examination|
|ACC 646||Introduction to Forensic Accounting/ Fraud Exam||This course will develop the student's understanding of what forensic accounting and fraud examination is and how it pertains to both civil and criminal matters. The student will gain a basic understanding of the characteristics of fraud, fraud prevention and detection, investigative techniques, asset recovery, and the use of information technology in this interesting and growing profession.|
|ACC 691||Detection and Prevention of Fraudulent Financial Statements||This second course in forensic accounting and fraud examination examines the various types of fraud and its impact on the financial information presented. The objective of this course is to identify common fraud schemes and scams. Participants in this course will learn how to review, detect, and investigate possible financial statement fraud by addressing such topics as income smoothing, off balance sheet financing, fictitious sales/revenue, and understatement of liabilities, just to name a few. Various techniques will be used to explore substantive analytical procedures to assess the risks of financial statement fraud.|
|ACC 692||Interview Techniques/Legal Aspects of Fraud||This third course in forensic accounting and fraud examination will acquaint the participant with interview principles and techniques. Additionally, the participant will be exposed to some of the legal aspects pertaining to the identification and prosecution of fraud.|
|ACC 693||Investigating with Computers||This fourth course in the Graduate Certificate will provide guidance and knowledge for conducting investigations via machine. The skills of the participant in this course will be strengthened in such areas as identification of the types of public records available to investigate; how to access the public records through databases; navigation of the Internet to find useful material; the use of fraud-related software packages to detect and investigate possible fraudulent activities; and the use of data analysis programs and spreadsheets to detect fraud.|
|Total Credits: 12|
Tuition & Fees
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer a 25% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
|Online Graduate Programs||Per Course||Per Credit Hour||Annual Cost for 15 credits|
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)
Tuition rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
$150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
What do forensic accountants do?
Forensic accounting is a specialized form of accounting that typically revolves around financial disputes or fraud. These accountants investigate and audit accounts and records to help others either come to an agreement or be brought to trial.
A few areas in which forensic accountants can help people or organizations include:
- Bribery and/or corruption
- Business losses and/or bankruptcy
- Counterintelligence and/or terrorism
- Customer fraud
- Family/marital disputes
- Hidden or misappropriated assets
- Insurance claims
- Money laundering
- Tax fraud
Earning a forensic accounting certificate as a complement to your bachelor's degree in accounting can give you an enviable skill set.
"This is a good certificate for someone already working in accounting, with a bachelor's in accounting, and wants to move into a forensic accounting and fraud examination position," said Mona Stephens, accounting faculty lead at Southern New Hampshire University.
She said that forensic accountants may be asked to:
- Trace funds and identify assets for recovery
- Conduct analysis of financial data
- Prepare reports from financial findings
- Prepare data for litigation and testify as needed
You'll also need to be on the watch for both internal and external perpetrators. In a 2020 survey, they were both about an equal risk to a company.2
How do you become a certified forensic accountant?
You can become a Certified Forensic Accountant through the American Board of Forensic Accounting.5
So, how can you earn this certification?
- Apply for ABFA membership, and share your accounting education and experience.
- Take the review program.
- Pass the certification exam, which includes sections on cyber, fraud, litigation, practice/theory and valuations.
You may also consider earning the Certified Fraud Examiner credential through the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.3
And how can you become a CFE?
- Join ACFE, and share your education, affiliations and experience.
- Study and prepare with provided resources.
- Apply to take the exam.
- Pass the certification exam, which includes sections on financial transactions/fraud schemes, fraud prevention/deterrence, investigation and law.
SNHU's online forensic accounting courses could help put you in a position to do well on the exams and get the certifications that employers like to see on a resume.
What is the best forensic accounting certification?
The best forensic accounting certification is the one that gives you both the skills you need and the recognition from employers.
Many would argue that the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential is the one that organizations look for in a forensic accountant. Administered by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), it's considered the world's largest anti-fraud organization.
The ACFE notes that CFEs are different because they have a "unique set of skills that are not found in any other career field or discipline; they combine knowledge of complex financial transactions with an understanding of methods, law and how to resolve allegations of fraud."3
The organization reports that to become a CFE, you must meet high educational, professional and ethical standards – and that's because the certification is considered one of the most marketable credentials out there today.3
How much do forensic accountants make?
In 2019, the median annual salary for accountants and auditors was $71,550 – well above the wages for all workers.1 But forensic accountants may be able to earn quite a bit more.
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the median annual salary for forensic accountants in 2017-18 was $82,938.4
However, that salary has the potential to increase with certification. And when you earn an online forensic accounting certificate at Southern New Hampshire University, you become better prepared to sit for the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) exam.
According to ACFE, these credentialed CFEs earned a median salary of $104,500 in 2017-18 – a substantial jump in pay.4
Certified or not, you should find that your paycheck as an accountant is both professionally and personally rewarding.
Which is harder, CA or CPA?
Whether you choose to become a CA (Chartered Accountant) or a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), you definitely gain the respect of organizations and clients, who know the recognition comes with hard work.
The certifications are different, and you need to have a good understanding of what each is before pursuing such ambitious goals.
A CPA is a U.S. credential that is overseen by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) that allows you to provide accounting services to members of the public. Once you become a CPA, you must keep up your licensure through continuing professional education.6 Licensure requirements vary by state.
A CA is the title used by many other countries as an equivalent to our country's CPA designation. Some countries – like Canada, Ireland, Mexico and others – have an agreement with the U.S. that allows CAs in those countries to take an equivalency exam to become a CPA here.6
If you plan on practicing accounting in the U.S., it would seem to make most sense to sit for the CPA exam. If you are a citizen of another country, you may find it harder to pass an exam for another country's accounting and financial laws.
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, 4, 5, 6)
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 Oct. 8, 2020). Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
2PwC, Fighting fraud: A never-ending battle – PwC's Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey, 2020 [PDF], on the internet, at https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/forensics/gecs-2020/pdf/global-economic-crime-and-fraud-survey-2020.pdf (viewed Oct. 12, 2020)
3Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, on the internet, at:
- https://www.acfe.com/cfe-membership.aspx (viewed Oct. 8, 2020)
- https://www.acfe.com/career-path-forensic-accountant.aspx (viewed Oct. 8, 2020)
- https://www.acfe.com/become-cfe-qualifications.aspx (viewed Oct. 8, 2020)
4According to a survey responses from over 9,200 SNHU online students conducted in the fall of 2019.
5American Board of Forensic Accounting, Steps to Certification, on the internet, at http://abfa.us/steps/ (viewed Oct. 12, 2020)
6Accounting Institute for Success, CPA vs. CA (Chartered Accountant): Which is Better for Your Career, Salary, and Wallet?, on the internet, at https://www.ais-cpa.com/cpa-vs-ca/ (viewed Oct. 12, 2020)