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Q&A - Forensic Accounting Programs

What other areas of study are related to my forensic accounting program?

Most students enrolled in forensic accounting programs have studied or hold a degree in general accounting. These students may also be interested in financial auditing, a similar field that involves digging through financial records in search of clues. There are several kinds of auditing, such as cost auditing, which entails checking the costs of materials used for the manufacturing of goods, or integrated auditing, where auditors declare whether a publicly traded company’s financial reporting is effective.

Another common area of study for those interested in forensic accounting is the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in forensic accounting. Students enrolled in this forensic accounting program study topics such as fraud examination and computer forensics for accountants.

Because forensic accounting involves a good deal of investigative work, those interested in the subject may also be interested in other criminal fields such as private investigation or criminal justice. Both of these areas involve the use of investigative and research skills to solve crimes, though not necessarily financial ones. For example, a detective may be a private investigator or a member of a police force and solve crimes by gathering evidence through research and crime scene investigations.

What internships should I pursue during my on-campus or online forensic accounting degree program?

A great way to supplement a top forensic accounting program is with a challenging internship that may lead to a career in forensic accounting. In addition, many degree programs offer credit hours for internship experience.

The best internships for students enrolled in accredited forensic accounting programs are those offered by accounting offices or firms. While general accounting internships may be beneficial in teaching the basics, internships that focus on fraud detection or auditing are especially advantageous. In addition, forensic accounting students may want to try an internship in the legal system, particularly in business law at a prosecutor’s or district attorney’s office. While you don’t need a law degree to be a forensic accountant, knowing financial regulations is an essential aspect of detecting fraud, and working in a financial legal office is a great way to learn.

While forensic accounting online programs may not offer the same career or internship placement help as traditional universities, you may still be able to receive credit toward your online degree through an internship, though you will likely have to arrange it yourself. If you are interested in pursing an internship, check with your online institution first to see if you can receive credit for your work.

Are there any movies or TV shows that I might enjoy during my forensic accounting degree program?

Students studying forensic accounting may be interested in seeing forensic accountants in popular culture. A recent movie featuring a forensic accountant in the starring role is The Other Guys (2010), a buddy cop comedy starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. In it, Will Ferrell plays a forensic accountant turned detective who uses his skills to investigate a corporate Ponzi scheme. It is the unique accounting knowledge and investigative skills of Will Ferrell’s character that end up cracking the case rather than tough guy heroics.

Forensic accounting employs the detective work of other types of forensic investigations, so chances are you’ll enjoy the mystery of shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its many spinoffs based in different cities. The show centers on a team of forensic investigators working with the police at crime scenes to solve murders and other mysteries by finding minute clues left behind by the criminals.

Another forensics-themed show is Forensic Files, which is about the use of forensic science in solving mysteries. Unlike CSI, however, Forensic Files is based on reality, taking cases of unsolved crimes throughout history and using the tools of forensics to uncover their mysteries.

Are there any accelerated campus-based or online forensic accounting programs to help me finish my degree faster?

In general, the best forensic accounting online programs are designed for students who would like to complete their studies faster than at a traditional university. Most of the accelerated online options are certificate programs aimed at students who already possess a bachelors in accounting or a related field and would like to take an exam to earn their certified fraud examiner (CFE) or certified forensic public accountant (CFPA) certification.

One such program is offered by Post University. The university’s Online Forensic Accounting Certificate program can be taken in 8-week modules, meaning students can earn a certificate in 12 to 18 months, rather than the standard 2 years, and be prepared to take the CFE examination. All of the classes are online-only so you never have to step foot in a classroom, but you will still have access to your professors online.

Another accelerated online certificate program is offered by Southern New Hampshire University. Upon completion of the program you will receive an Online Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination Graduate Certificate. The program is designed for students with an undergraduate degree in business and 2 years of accounting experience who plan to take a CFE or CFPA exam.