Forensic and Fraud Examination

Degree Offered

  • Master of Science

Program

The 30 credit-hour program is comprised of a core curriculum of forensic and fraud examination classes centered on data analytics for success in this career path. Students complete an intensive 12-month program with online classes and two required residencies.  The core curriculum is paired with a focused selection of online MBA courses to create a well-balanced approach to the field. Courses build throughout the program to incorporate previously acquired skills and allow students to immediately put those skills to use through hands-on experiential learning.  During the residencies, students will evaluate a simulated crime scene in order to make a pitch to a prosecutor as to whether or not an indictment should be pursued and serve as an expert witness in moot court. Content incorporates auditing, information technology, financial, and managerial accounting, etc. particularly as these topics interface with forensic and fraud examination material.

To apply to the MS in FFE program:

  • Application: A West Virginia University Application for Graduate Admission. This can be accomplished online.
  • Official Transcripts: Official transcripts from all prior academic work must be forwarded to the Office of Admissions and Records, PO Box 6009, Morgantown, WV 26506-6009.
  • Graduate Management Admissions Test® scores: Applicants must have scores submitted from the Graduate Management Admissions Test® (GMAT). Anyone who scores below the 50th percentile should re-take the exam. Two years of related professional experience may be substituted for the GMAT.
  • Resume: The Official Transcript and GMAT performance provide some quantitative evidence about an applicant. Applicants round out their profile with other evidence found in their résumé. The resume should include enough information for the admissions committee to trace the applicant's entire professional work history and should indicate any relevant affiliations.

Additionally, applicants have the option of submitting:

  • Letters of recommendation (up to three): We recommend that references provide some information that is not found in the other materials being submitted. Anecdotal comments from the reference writer's shared experience is encouraged.
  • Statement of Purpose: Often the resume, transcripts, and GMAT scores fail to capture important characteristics that the individual offers for the program. The Statement of Purpose refers to a short essay in which an applicant reflects on the contribution of the MS in FAFE degree to the applicant's future and the special characteristics that the applicant brings to the MS in FAFE program. We are interested in value-added experiences, both from the program to the student and from the individual student to the program.

Fraud and Forensic Examination Master of Arts Requirements

Overall 3.0 GPA required.
Minimum grade of C required in all courses applied toward the degree.
ACCT 580Forensic and Fraud Examination (FFE) Skills3
ACCT 581Fraud Investigation3
ACCT 582Fraud Data Analysis3
ACCT 583Fraud: Criminology/Legal Issues3
ACCT 584Advanced Fraud Investigation3
ACCT 585Advanced Analytical Techniques3
MBA Electives12
Total Hours30

Suggested Plan of Study

First SemesterHours
ACCT 5803
MBA Elective3
MBA Elective3
 9
Second SemesterHours
ACCT 5813
ACCT 5823
 6
Third SemesterHours
ACCT 5833
ACCT 5843
 6
Fourth SemesterHours
ACCT 5853
MBA Elective3
MBA Elective3
 9
Total credit hours: 30

Major Learning Goals

Forensic and Fraud Examination

After completing the program, graduates will be able to:

  • Discuss the impact of legal, societal, and ethical considerations on business decision-making and strategic planning in forensic and fraud examination, and how civil litigation and fraud interact with and impact the global economy.
  • Explain how money laundering schemes and policies influence organizations around the world from a microeconomic perspective, and how these issues affect economic profitability and success.
  • Evaluate financial reports focusing on fraudulent financial statements and the associated nuances regarding fraud examination.
  • Evaluate evidentiary material associated with asset misappropriation (i.e., theft of assets) and complete fraud examinations that meet judicial standards of investigation
  • Complete examination of facts and circumstances associated with fraud acts and other financial violations of the law with the goal of remediating those issues based on investigative outcomes.
  • Discuss and apply the various investigative tools in forensic and fraud examination across different industries.
  • Develop an analytical skill set including the utilization of electronic techniques and data mining software used to assist forensic professionals and fraud examiners in developing litigation.
  • Develop anti-fraud knowledge, skills, and abilities that address the issues of prevention, deterrence, and detections of financial shenanigans.

Graduate Certificate in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination (FAFE)

The widespread growth in white-collar crime, litigation disputes, the illegal international movement of money and terrorism financing have greatly raised the demand for forensic accountants, fraud examiners and for accounting professionals who possess those skills. Federal, state, and local governmental agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, The US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security, and the Offices of Inspector General all need professionals with forensic accounting and fraud examination skills. In the private sector, legislation (e.g., Dodd-Frank of 2010,  Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002) and auditing standards (Statement on Auditing Standard No. 99) require companies and their auditors to be more aggressive in detecting, preventing and deterring fraud.

CFE Exam Prep Course: Included in your tuition is the ACFE Exam Prep Course, making you eligible and qualified to sit for the CFE Exam.

Further, our experiential learning assignments are designed to ensure that graduates can "hit the ground running" in their jobs using their knowledge, skills and abilities developed in the FAFE program.

A unique program creating employment opportunities for graduates.

The WVU Department of Accounting has responded to the demand for forensic accountants and fraud examiners by developing an academic program designed to prepare students for careers in litigation support, forensic accounting and fraud examination. Although many schools offer a single fraud examination or forensic accounting course, very few offer a multi-course program. The 12-credit graduate Certificate Program in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination (FAFE) is offered via three options:

  • Option 1: Complete the four course Graduate Certificate program curriculum on-line over two semesters.  The on-line option requires two, 2-day on-campus residencies (described below)
  • Option 2: Complete the four course Graduate Certificate program curriculum during the summer
  • Option 3: Complete the Master of Professional Accountancy (MPA) on-campus degree plus complete two advanced FAFE certificate courses to earn the both FAFE Graduate Certificate and the MPA over 11 months.  To explore the MPA program, please click here: http://www.be.wvu.edu/mpa/index.htm.  All MPA students are exposed to essentially all of the material covered in ACCT 581 and ACCT 582. Various fraud-related topics are covered in several MPA courses, but the primary overlap with ACCT 581 and ACCT 582 is in ACCT 556 Fraud Detection & Deterrence and ACCT 521 Information Technology Auditing, respectively. ACCT 556 is a required MPA course that responses to changing demands of the accounting profession. ACCT 521 covers data analysis techniques.

FAFE students are eligible to participate in all College of B&E's Center for Career Development (CCD) services.  Even for on-campus interviews, on-line students not residing in Morgantown, WV can participate via phone call / internet-based interviews. WVU typically has more than 25 employers visit campus each year seeking qualified accounting students, several of which also recruit students with FAFE credentials. Please see http://www.be.wvu.edu/careers/index.htm.

Admission Requirements 

ACCT 201Principles of Accounting3
ACCT 311Intermediate Accounting3
ACCT 322Accounting Systems3
ACCT 451Auditing Theory3
  1. A bachelor's degree with two years of relevant work experience, Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate, a related Certification by an approved credentialing body, law degree or admission to an accredited law school OR a
  2. A bachelor's degree with an overall GPA of 2.9 or above, and a score of 500 on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or a score of 1000 on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  3. The following courses, or equivalent in terms of professional experience, are prerequisites for admission to the Certificate Program:

The prerequisites may be taken at any accredited institution of higher education including online courses. Two years of related professional experience may be substituted for the prerequisite courses. An Admissions Committee for the Department of Accounting will assess prior experience.

Not all applicants may be admitted to the program. Because the program consists of intense hands-on cases and specialized assignments, enrollment in the program is limited. An Admissions Committee of three accounting faculty members will review applications and will accept individuals demonstrating the greatest potential for success.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide proof of English language proficiency. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is used as the measure of English language proficiency. A score of 250 on the computer-based TOEFL or 600 on the paper-based TOEFL is the minimum required of all such applicants. Applicants who have received a high school diploma or a bachelor's degree in the United States need not submit a TOEFL score.

FAFE Program Details

Students will complete four courses. All four courses are taught using actual and simulated case materials, a hands-on approach to prepare students for their careers in litigation support, forensic accounting and fraud examination. To mimic real-world expectations, students are required to perform two actual case engagements and report their findings both in writing and orally – see pitch-to-prosecutor and moot court exercise description below.

The four courses are:

ACCT 581Fraud Investigation3
ACCT 582Fraud Data Analysis3
ACCT 583Fraud: Criminology/Legal Issues3
ACCT 584Advanced Fraud Investigation3

The program includes two in-class / on-line case investigations and two investigative engagements that students must complete in a team format. Both require students to present and defend their work in front of practicing professionals as follows:

“Pitch to Prosecutor” Exercise in Accounting 581 - Students will complete one major case investigation (MCI) over the course of study in Acct 581.  The purpose is to provide students with experience in performing basic investigative tasks and analysis.  These projects involve analyzing simulated case information based on actual frauds / financial crimes as well as related corporate and business records to determine if fraud has occurred, who did and how.  Students mimic investigative processes used in conducting analytical reviews, soliciting information from clients, and reporting suspicious activity for a fictitious client / target company.

The exercise culminates in a ("Pitch to Prosecutor") exercise where students “pitch” the results of their investigations to a "prosecutor" to see if the case merits taking it to the next level.  The "prosecutor" is a role played position by a qualified professional with experience in the area.  The job of the prosecutor is to listen to the presentation, ask appropriate questions and then critique the team on the areas where they excelled, met expectations, or were deficient.  Students have 20-25 minutes for their presentation and the prosecutor has 5-10 minutes for Questions and Answers.  The critique by the prosecutor has a major impact on the student's grade for this portion of the case investigation.

Prosecutors are expected to come to the pitch "blind," meaning that they are responding to a request for a meeting by an investigative team.  The prosecutor has no advance preparation.  The prosecutor simply attends the pitch meeting, listens, asks questions, and evaluates whether the case should be moved forward and formal action taken against the alleged perpetrator(s).  Students must utilize a variety of communication tools during the exercise including direct and indirect financial analyses, Excel spreadsheet financial analyses that highlight important case points, PowerPoint, link charts, flow diagrams and time lines, and the hypothesis-evidence matrix.

“Moot Court” Exercise (Capstone Experience) in Accounting 584 Supported by attorneys from the IRS and Steptoe & Johnson, PLLC

This course includes an integrative capstone experience using simulated actual case material as a basis for conducting an investigation throughout the course. In order to complete the assignments, students must integrate and draw upon the knowledge and skills developed in the other three courses, including the use of digital tools and techniques, developed in Fraud Data Analysis. 

The purpose of this integrated exercise is to provide students with experience in performing complex investigative tasks and analyses.  (These cases are complex financial crimes / frauds that include money laundering, RICO, mail fraud, wire fraud, tax fraud and conspiracy.  The cases are usually centered on organized crime, drug trafficking or terrorism financing.)  These projects involve analyzing real-world case information (public data and open source research techniques) as well as corporate and business records to determine if fraud or a financial crime has occurred.  Students mimic investigative processes found in practice by conducting analytical reviews, soliciting information from clients, and reporting suspicious activity for a fictitious client company.  Finally, the capstone experience culminates when students testify to their findings in a moot court scenario using direct and in-direct financial analyses, other Excel spreadsheet financial analyses that highlight important case points, link charts, flow diagrams and time lines and the hypothesis-evidence matrix.  The role of “judge” in the moot court exercise is played by practicing attorneys with related professional experience. 

Other experiential learning activities:

Crime Scene Investigation – Financial (CSI-F).  As part of the advanced courses, student visit the West Virginia University Crime Scene Complex where they are offered instruction and then collect evidence that incorporated in the major case investigation, both the oral and written activities.  Click here to see video.

Advanced Data Mining.  Part of Accounting 582 is centered on “big data,” students’ developing data mining skills, using data mining such as IDEA or ACL.  As part of the advanced courses, student visit the West Virginia University computer lab where they are offered supplemental instruction in advance data mining tools and techniques.  The data mining analytical findings are then incorporated in the major case investigation, both the oral and written activities.

Academic Standards

Students in the Master of Science Master in Forensic and Fraud Examination program are subject to the following performance standards:

  1. Students are required to maintain a 3.0 or better overall GPA for all courses completed as a Masters student at WVU.
  2. A student whose cumulative grade point average falls below 2.75 will be placed on probation. If the average is not brought up to 2.75 by the end of the following semester, the student will be suspended from the program. The suspension will last one year and the student will be eligible to re-engage in courses after that time period.

Courses

ACCT 501. Accounting/Economic Decision Making. 3 Hours.

PR: Admission into the Master's of Professional Accountancy program. This course exposes students to the theory and application within the accounting profession of the topics of corporate governance, economic theory, financial management, cost accounting, and strategic planning, particularly as it relates to decision making.

ACCT 511. Financial Accounting Theory and Practice. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Comprehensive examination of financial accounting theory as established by the opinions, statements and interpretation of professional organizations with special emphasis on their application and problem solving.

ACCT 512. Mergers and Acquisitions. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Strategic perspectives of mergers and acquisitions, their valuation, and evaluation of their subsequent performance. Accounting for business combinations and foreign operations and related financial accounting and reporting issues.

ACCT 521. Information Technology Auditing. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Information technology auditing techniques, issues, and current topics, including risk assessment, general and application control testing, computer assisted audit tools and techniques, and testing of databases and local area networks.

ACCT 522. Electronic Commerce and Internet Security. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Electronic commerce business models. Real options evaluations, accounting distinctions, and case analysis of Web-based business models, with emphasis on the Internet security risks to the integrity of financial information.

ACCT 541. Federal Tax Research and Writing. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Study of federal tax authorities and hierarchy, the research resources available, development of federal tax research and writing skills, and the application thereof.

ACCT 551. Assurance Services and Professional Standards. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Professional objectives, principles, and standards for assurance services, including risk assessment, attestation reports, and related communications. Case studies covering sampling, professional ethics, legal liability and reporting.

ACCT 556. Fraud Detection and Deterrence. 3 Hours.

PR: Restricted to MPA Students. The auditor's responsibility with respect to fraud detection and investigation and management's responsibility for fraud deterrence and implementation of effective prevention measures. Identification, analysis and examination of fraud using actual and simulated data.

ACCT 561. Governmental and Not-for-Profit Accounting. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Theory and practice of accounting for governmental and not-for-profit entities with an emphasis on the conceptual foundation of fund accounting, budgetary control and accountability.

ACCT 571. Accounting/Business Consulting. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Translating complex information into critical knowledge for engagements beyond basic financial/managerial accounting, assurance, and tax services. Consulting experience examined through exposure to consulting professionals, cases and/or a business simulation.

ACCT 580. Accounting for Forensic and Fraud Investigators. 3 Hours.

A basic introduction to financial and managerial accounting, auditing, and technology applicable to accounting, and the relationship of those areas with forensic accounting and fraud examination.

ACCT 581. Fraud Investigation. 3 Hours.

PR: Restricted to FAFI students. Types of fraud, documents, sources of evidence, and analysis of internal and external fraud schemes with an emphasis on the skills needed to identify and investigate fraud.

ACCT 582. Fraud Data Analysis. 3 Hours.

PR: Restricted to FAFI students. Computer-aided data analysis techniques for detecting and investigating fraud cases, issues related to the collection and use of digital evidence, and collection of data from electronic devices.

ACCT 583. Fraud: Criminology/Legal Issues. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Theories of criminal behavior, laws, rules of evidence, rights of persons under interrogation and interviewing, report writing and ethics, as these topics relate to forensic accounting with a focus on the behavioral aspects of fraud.

ACCT 584. Advanced Fraud Investigation. 3 Hours.

PR: ACCT 581 and ACCT 582. Major fraud case investigation with an emphasis on forensic and litigation support aspects, including presentation of cases in moot court setting.

ACCT 585. Forensic and Fraud Examination Advanced Analytical Techniques. 3 Hours.

An examination and use of advanced analytical techniques with respect to three forensic accounting and fraud examination special topics: civil litigation support and damage claims, valuations and financial statement fraud.

ACCT 591A-Z. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of advanced topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

ACCT 592A-Z. Directed Study. 1-6 Hours.

Directed Study, reading, and/or research.

ACCT 593A-Z. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

ACCT 594A-Z. Seminar. 1-6 Hours.

Seminars arranged for advanced graduate students.

ACCT 595. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

ACCT 691A-Z. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of advanced topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

ACCT 692A-Z. Directed Study. 1-6 Hours.

Directed Study, reading, and/or research.

ACCT 693A-Z. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

ACCT 694A-Z. Seminar. 1-6 Hours.

ACCT 694Z. Seminar. I, II, S. 1-6 hr. Special seminars arranged for advanced graduate students.

ACCT 695. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

ACCT 696. Graduate Seminar. 1 Hour.

PR: Consent. Each graduate student will present at least one seminar to the assembled faculty and graduate student body of his or her program.

ACCT 697. Research. 1-15 Hours.

PR: Consent. Research activities leading to thesis, problem report, research paper or equivalent scholarly project, or a dissertation. (Grading may be S/U.).

ACCT 698. Thesis or Dissertation. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. This is an optional course for programs that wish to provide formal supervision during the writing of student reports (698), or dissertations (798). Grading is normal.

ACCT 699. Graduate Colloquium. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. For graduate students not seeking coursework credit but who wish to meet residency requirements, use the University's facilities, and participate in its academic and cultural programs. Note: Graduate students who are not actively involved in coursework or research are entitled, through enrollment in their department's 699/799 Graduate Colloquium to consult with graduate faculty, participate in both formal and informal academic activities sponsored by their program, and retain all of the rights and privileges of duly enrolled students. Grading is P/F; colloquium credit may not be counted against credit requirements for masters programs. Registration for one credit of 699/799 graduate colloquium satisfies the University requirement of registration in the semester in which graduation occurs.

ACCT 711. Behavioral Accounting Research. 3 Hours.

This is a doctoral-level course designed to familiarize students to various behavioral topics within the accounting literature. The goal of the course is to survey some of the major theories, issues, and empirical findings within the behavioral-accounting literature. This approach is designed to build a foundation upon which the student may consider their own areas of research.

ACCT 712. Archival Accounting Research. 3 Hours.

PR: Admission to PhD program and STAT 511. This doctoral-level course is designed to familiarize students to various capital markets topics within the accounting literature. The goal of the course is to survey some of the major theories, issues, and empirical findings within the archival literature. This approach is designed to build a foundation upon which the student may consider their own areas of interest.

ACCT 713. Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination. 3 Hours.

This course familiarizes students with various special topics as it relates to forensic accounting and fraud examination. It surveys some of the major theories, issues, and empirical findings within and without the accounting literature.

ACCT 794A-C. Archival Accounting Research. 1-6 Hours.

ACCT 795. Independent Study. 1-9 Hours.

Faculty-supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

ACCT 797. Research. 1-15 Hours.

PR: Consent. Research activities leading to thesis, problem report, research paper or equivalent scholarly project, or a dissertation. (Grading will be S/U.).