Master of Forensic Accounting

In times of economic hardship and instability, companies can face serious financial issues, possibly leading to the distortion of financial records in an effort to avoid potential bankruptcy. This is where the forensic accountant comes in. In situations such as this, a forensic accountant puts his or her keen investigative skills and accounting expertise to work along with the use of auditing software in order to detect financial fraud.

The Program

Southeastern’s 14-month master’s program in forensic accounting, which was designed by forensic accountants actively involved in the field, enables practicing CPAs, attorneys, and those in other professions to develop the necessary skills to work in this crucial branch of accounting. The program focuses on real-world experience; for example, students participate in a capstone mock trial in front of a judge in an actual courtroom as well as perform a financial statement analysis in a forensic accounting engagement. Students work through the program as part of a cohort of students, thereby benefiting from the unique blend of the professional backgrounds and experiences of their colleagues.

Course Descriptions

Forensic Accounting Main GraphicOur hybrid delivery approach enables working professionals to complete the five 12-week courses (also referred to as modules), each to be taken one at a time, while still maintaining full-time careers. Courses are offered primarily online, with students coming to our Lakeland campus at least once per semester for 16 contact hours, equaling a total of 112 hours of face-to-face contact. In addition, a two-hour online meeting is held every other week, equaling a total of 48 online contact hours. These face-to-face and online meetings complement the online learning, giving students beneficial contact with faculty and their colleagues while still granting them the flexibility to complete course work according to their own schedules.

The five 12-week courses are detailed below and are listed in the order they must be taken throughout the duration of the program.

This course introduces students to the world of forensic Module 1accounting and reviews foundational investigative and research concepts, including forensic accounting skills (such as critical thinking and reasoning), the nature of forensic accounting assignments, methodologies, and ethical considerations. Students will learn to think “beyond the numbers,” integrating and applying knowledge of related disciplines such as accounting, economics, finance, criminology, psychology, organizational behavior, law, and computer science. Students will learn to think like investigators and develop skills leading to the presentation of investigative/research results in a clear, concise, and professional manner.

This course prepares students to work effectively in a legal environment. Students Module 2will learn the importance of civil rules and procedures and the rules of evidence as components of a forensic engagement. The concepts of evidence gathering, how a trial is conducted, and methods of proof will be emphasized. Students will also learn the differences between a consulting and a testifying expert, the criteria for forming and expressing a legally sufficient expert opinion.

This course prepares students to perform a financial statement analysis in a Module 3forensic accounting engagement. The context of a forensic accounting engagement will be explored through a focus on fraud theory and white-collar crime. Students will work through a comprehensive case analysis in which the tools and techniques of financial statement analysis and fraud investigation will be applied. In addition, the role of data analysis in forensic accounting engagements is discussed and methods of data collection and preparation are considered. Students will be introduced to concepts related to computer forensics.

This course introduces students to business valuation theory, methods, and techniques.  Students Module 4will develop an understanding of various business valuation approaches and methods and how they are incorporated into the five-step valuation process. The course will also explore the relationship of a business valuation engagement to the legal framework and students will gain insight into the structure and content of a business valuation report.

This course requires the integration and application of the concepts learned Module 5in the previous modules. Students are challenged to manage a forensic accounting engagement through each stage of the litigation process — engagement, development of case facts and assumptions, discovery/research, selection and application of appropriate methodologies, preparation of a written report, discovery deposition, and mock trial testimony. Successful completion of this module requires critical thinking, researching, investigating, writing, and communicating within a litigation context.

Admission Criteria

To be admitted to our master’s program in forensic accounting, you must fulfill the following requirements:

  • An undergraduate degree in accounting from a regionally accredited institution, a law degree with the equivalent of a minor in accounting gained through course work or experience, or a CPA credential with relevant experience
  • A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Letters of recommendation addressing the applicant’s career potential and ability to take on graduate-level course work
  • An interview with the director of the forensic accounting master’s program

Your Impact

Forensic accounting can be an exciting, satisfying, and well-compensated career, opening the door for you to work in a variety of areas, including the following:

  • Banking, insurance, and other financial services industries
  • State and local governments
  • Law enforcement
  • Nonprofit sector
  • Private practice