Forensic Accounting CurriculumInformation compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated December 2010
A growing area within accounting, forensic accounting is accounting that would support legal proceedings. Forensic means “belonging to, used in, or suitable to courts of judicature or to public discussion and debate.” (Mirriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary) The two major areas in this discipline are litigation support and investigative accounting. An example of litigation support would be quantifying economic damages such as the loss created by a breach of contract. Investigative supporting could cover a variety of areas such as insurance or securities fraud or employee theft. Particularly with investigative accounting, the forensic accountant is part detective, in search of clues to solve a mystery. Forensic accountants also provide support in other interesting areas – for example they have played a significant role in tracking terrorists globally post 9/11.
Studying in the field
In a sense, all accountants operate in a commercial legal environment, but forensic accountants are engaged “where they anticipate that their finding or analysis may be subject to adversarial or judicial scrutiny or administrative review, the professional accountant seeks a level of evidentiary detail and analytical precision which will be sustainable within the legal framework of such scrutiny or review” (Journal of Forensic Accounting). So, you've really got to know what you're doing. Most forensic accounts have accounting degrees and are either CPAs or Certified Fraud Examiners. An advanced degree in forensic accounting allows focus specifically on the disciplines that support forensic accounting.
Job opportunities in the field
Forensic accountants fill a number of roles today including supporting litigation in commercial and domestic (most often divorce or child support) lawsuits, fraud investigation, risk prevention and reduction, advisers, auditors, evidence gatherers, etc. This opens a variety of options in terms of private practice and roles in government and commercial organizations. Forensic accountants would typically be retained by lawyers, police, insurance companies, banks, courts and other businesses and government organizations.
Check out: Forensic Accounting Graduate Programs