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Forensic Accounting Degree: Accounting with a Side of Justice

By Brendan Conway updated on Monday, January 28, 2013

Maybe you've heard about forensic accounting, and want to know more. Or maybe you already know that it's what you want to do, and you're just looking for some specific detail. Either way, we've got you covered.

What can I do with a forensic accounting degree?

Forensic accounting is a very particular type of accounting. While it still uses some of the same principles, tools, and ideas of accountancy in general, forensic accounting fulfills a different function, and will require special skills above and beyond those required of accountancy in general.

Forensic accountants are generally hired in order to function in a kind of anti-crime capacity; the investigate companies and other financial institutions in order to look for instances of potential fraud or other wrongdoing. Forensic accountants are thus often hired by companies performing internal investigations; by parties involved in financial dealings that might suspect other parties involved in the same dealings of some kind of wrongdoing; by law enforcement agencies, and by even more companies or organizations.

Earning a forensic accounting degree would thus be a key pathway into a rather niche profession of accountancy. This particular branch of accountancy is obviously much smaller than the whole of the profession of accountancy, but for someone interested in pursuing forensic accounting, a forensic accounting degree would be a tremendous boon to his or her career.

A forensic accounting degree would enable an individual to pursue both litigation support, in which the forensic accountant would provide assistance to one of the parties in a pending litigation, or investigative accounting, in which a forensic accoutnant would outright pursue an investigation of potential wrongdoing, be it in terms of employee theft, securities fraud, or some other form of theft.

Additional requirements beyond forensic accounting degree

A forensic accounting degree will obviously not be the only requirement necessary for an individual to enter into work as a forensic accountant. While it might be of significant help, an individual is also likely to need additional qualifications and/or certifications in order to be hired as an expert forensic accountant.

Earning a forensic accounting degree can be a major boon towards transitioning into a position as a forensic accountant, but the individual in question will very likely have to be a certified public accountant (CPA) before being able to make the transition.

Earning a forensic accounting degree at the graduate level

Any undergraduate forensic accounting degree programs are unlikely to provide all of the information and expertise necessary in order to allow an individual to pursue a successful career as a forensic accountant. Forensic accounting is in many ways a discipline that is better served by a graduate-level education. Master's degrees in forensic accounting are available for pursuit by those who are interested.

That said, one can pursue either an undergraduate forensic accounting degree, or can pursue programs which owuld be likely to help in the later pursuit of a career in forensic accounting, or a graduate level forensic accounting degree.

The forensic accounting degree is not a law enforcment badge

Pursuing a forensic accountant degree does not mean pursuing any kind of law enforcement degree, and this is an important distinction to be aware of and understand. A forensic accountant is not a law enforcement officer, although a forensic accountant might assist a law enforcement officer to perform his or her duties through additional research. A forensic accountant is instead likely to be an advisor, either to law enforcement agencies, or to other companies.

See all Schools that Offer Forensic Accounting Degrees on Peterson's
About the Author

Brendan Conway is the Web Content Editor for Peterson's Interactive and is well-versed in the world of higher education and admissions. He is a graduate of Hamilton College, and has been working in admissions advice, test-prep advice, career planning advice, and similar fields for the majority of his career since graduation. Brendan endeavors to provide the most relevant, useful, and interesting information via Peterson's Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds. Brendan enjoys lexicological oddities and voraciously reading in his free time.

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