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Q&A - Masters Degrees in Forensic Accounting

Can I work while studying for my masters degree in forensic accounting?

Many students earning an on-campus or online masters in forensic accounting choose to work while studying for a variety of reasons, including so they can continue to earn forensic accounting salaries and pay tuition and advance their forensic accounting careers while finishing school. If you choose to work while earning your MS in forensic accounting, you will encounter advantages and disadvantages.

One major advantage in working while studying for your forensic accounting masters degree is that most certification exams for forensic accounting require at least 2 years of experience in accounting. Because masters programs generally take 2 years, if you wait until you graduate to begin your career, you may have to wait an additional year or 2 before you can become certified as a forensic accountant.

Common challenges that some students face while working and studying are the lack of time to sufficiently do both and scheduling conflicts between classes and their jobs. A possible solution is to consider enrolling in an accredited online masters degree in forensic accounting program. In general, online programs are designed to be more flexible to accommodate working professionals while still providing the support and motivation that students need to complete their degree.

Are there any scholarships for traditional or online masters students in forensic accounting?

The kinds of scholarships and fellowships available to you depend on where you choose to get your MS forensic accounting degree. Students enrolled in masters programs offered by accredited brick-and-mortar universities, whether they are traditional or online masters in forensic accounting programs, are eligible for the same scholarships and financial aid as other graduate students and can find out more about what scholarships they can apply for at their institution’s financial aid office.

In addition, there are several nationwide scholarships specifically tailored to students studying accounting. One of these is the Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship Program offered by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). The ACFE awards 4 scholarships each year to students enrolled in accounting, business, finance and criminal justice degree programs, consisting of one $10,000 scholarship, two $5,000 scholarships, four $2,500 scholarships and twenty-three $1,000 scholarships.

For residents of Massachusetts, the Educational Foundation of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA) offers a number of scholarships, some of which are geared specifically toward graduate students in various accounting fields. For example, the Master’s Scholarship Program offers $2,500 per year to students enrolled in a masters program in any branch of accounting who demonstrate financial need.

Are there any notable people who have earned masters degrees in forensic accounting?

Many famous businesspeople throughout history have studied accounting, but forensic accounting in itself is a relatively new field, so there are no truly famous accountants who got their masters in forensic accounting. However, there have been plenty of famous CPAs with masters degrees in related fields.

One example is Nike tycoon Phil Knight, who earned his masters degree in business administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Knight first worked as a CPA for Price Waterhouse in Portland, Oregon, while waiting on an order of running shoes from Japan, which would ultimately launch the famous Nike brand.

Another celebrity who practiced accounting is novelist John Grisham. Though Grisham received his advanced degree in law, he did earn a BS in accounting from Mississippi State University before going on to study criminal law and working as a lawyer, experiences that fuel his bestselling novels.

Some of the most famous forensic accountants may not be celebrities, but their work inspired the growth of an entire field. These are the forensic accountants who exposed the Enron scandal in 2001. One of the lead whistleblowers was Sherron Watkins, a CPA with a masters of professional accounting from University of Texas, who was working for Enron and discovered some alarming accounting discrepancies just months before the scandal broke.

Are there any brick-and-mortar colleges that offer an online forensic accounting masters degree program?

There are several brick-and-mortar colleges where you can earn a top forensic accounting masters online. Stevenson University, for example, offers an online accelerated masters degree in forensic studies with an accounting track. The program, which is designed for working professionals, takes between 18 and 24 months and requires the completion of 12 courses on topics such as evidence, litigation practice and procedure, accounting fraud and white collar crime.

Stevenson University is a private liberal arts college located in Maryland, and students enrolled in its online masters programs are eligible for the same financial aid benefits and scholarships as on-campus students.

For students interested in a hybrid program featuring online and classroom instruction, University of Charleston offers an Executive Master of Forensic Accounting program. This masters program is specifically designed to accommodate the schedules of working professionals.