Economic Crime Investigation: Bachelor, Associate & Online Degree Info

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Associate and bachelor's degrees in economic crime investigation can lead to careers in law enforcement, forensic accounting and computer security. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and career options, and find out what you can do with your degree.
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Studying Economic Crime Investigation: Degrees at a Glance

Economic crime investigation combines knowledge of criminal justice, accounting and computer science to combat business fraud and cyber crime. Degree programs in the field prepare graduates for crime prevention and investigation in a variety of situations, including identity theft, credit card fraud, information protection, tax evasion, cyber terrorism and computer security.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), increasing cyber crime and financial fraud have created a corresponding demand for investigative services. Graduates with a degree in economic crime investigation can find employment as fraud examiners, forensic accountants, computer crime investigators and information security managers. They may work at law enforcement and government agencies, telecommunications companies, banks, insurance corporations, credit card companies or in private consulting.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? - Individuals looking for an entry-level job in economic crime investigation
- Individuals interested in transferring to a 4-year degree program
Individuals seeking careers in crime prevention and investigation, in the fields of financial fraud and computer crime
Common Career Paths (with approximate 10th-90th percentile salary ranges) - Loss prevention investigator ($21,000-$52,000)*
- Fraud analyst ($25,000-$54,000)*
- Fraud investigator ($30,000-$79,000 - may require previous industry experience)*
Depending on experience, there may be some overlap in jobs available to associate and bachelor's degree holders
- Financial examiner ($41,000-$101,000 - 1 month to 1 year of on the job training is typical)*
- Forensic accountant ($46,000-$130,000 - could require previous experience as a junior accountant or in a similar position)*
- IT security consultant ($44,000-$142,000 - experience in a related area is typically required)*
- Information security manager ($63,000-$132,000 - several years of experience may be required)*
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Approximately 20-23 courses, including general studies and core courses - Approximately 35-40 courses, including general education classes, major requirements and core corses
- Internship and/or senior project
Common Prerequisites - High school diploma or GED
- Some schools may require completion of certain high school classes
- High school diploma or GED
- Some schools may require or recommend credits in certain high school subjects
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *PayScale.com (June 2012 figures).

Associate in Economic Crime Investigation

Associate degree programs in economic crime investigation can provide students with fundamental knowledge of criminal justice, accounting, finance and/or computer systems operations and security. These programs can prepare graduates to seek entry-level position in the field or to transfer into bachelor's degree programs at 4-year colleges or universities. The exact type of associate degree available tends to vary by location. Some states - particularly New York - offer the broader degree in economic crime investigation, while others typically offer more specific degrees in forensic computing or forensic accounting.

Although earning an associate's degree in economic crime investigation can help you develop your investigative knowledge and skills, it's important to realize that a degree may not be necessary to seek a position in economic crime investigations. This is because many of these professionals learn the requisite skills through on-the-job training and experience. Conversely, you could be competing with bachelor's degree holders for the same positions.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • An associate degree can be completed in as little as two years
  • You may be able to transfer credits towards a bachelor's degree at a four-year college
  • The interdisciplinary approach introduces students to a variety of fields
  • Can provide access to entry-level positions

Cons

  • Associate degree programs in economic crime investigation are few in number and tend to be clustered in certain states
  • You could be competing for jobs with bachelor's (or even master's) degree holders
  • Many entry-level positions don't require a formal degree
  • The interdisciplinary approach can make it difficult to develop specialized knowledge in a single area

Courses and Requirements

Most associate degree programs combine general education coursework with a core sequence in economic crime investigation. The general education classes frequently include history, English, foreign language, math or physical education credits. The economic crime investigation portion of the program is usually interdisciplinary, involving classes in criminal justice, accounting, computer science, business and/or finance.

Some schools combine the diverse aspects of economic crime into one program, while others ask students to specify a concentration, such as financial investigation or computer security. Associate degrees in economic crime investigation could include the following core courses:

  • Principles of accounting
  • Introduction to criminal justice
  • Introduction to economic crime investigation
  • Computer operating systems or applications
  • Microeconomics
  • Criminal law

Online Degree Options

A handful of associate degree programs in economic crime investigation are available online. A school may offer its associate program - with the same requirements, courses and admissions criteria as for on-site students - completely over the Internet. Alternatively, a school may offer a hybrid program, with some courses taken in an e-learning format and the remainder taken on campus.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Companies hiring for jobs in the field may prefer candidates familiar with the specific software programs used in economic crime investigation and prevention. You should therefore seek out classes and additional opportunities that can help you master such software during your course of study. Employers may also seek out individuals with strong communication and interpersonal skills. You can develop these skills through communications and public speaking courses or by participating in extracurricular activates in a leadership role.

Bachelor's in Economic Crime Investigation

Bachelor's degree programs in economic crime investigation provide an in-depth understanding of technology-based crime and business fraud, as well as advanced practical investigative and strategic management skills. Most programs are interdisciplinary, combining the fields of criminal justice, accounting and computer science.

While some schools offer a single major in economic crime prevention and investigation, others allow you to choose a specific track (financial investigations, accounting or computer security, for example). At yet other schools, you may receive your degree in a separate field (accounting or computer forensics, for example), with a specialization in economic crime investigation. Some programs can specifically prepare you for professional certifications, such as the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) exams. However, it's important to realize that you may need to take additional courses or possess a set amount of previous work experience in the field to qualify for these designations.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Many bachelor's degree programs in economic crime prevention include access to a research center and/or an internship, where you can gain hands-on experience
  • A bachelor's may qualify you to enter a career with a high top-end salary, such as IT security consultant, in which the highest paid ten percent of workers earned $142,000 or more*
  • The interdisciplinary approach prepares students for a range of career options

Cons

  • Bachelor's degree programs in economic crime investigation are limited in number and location, tending to be clustered in the Eastern U.S.
  • A bachelor's degree may not suffice for certain jobs - employers may prefer previous work experience and/or a professional certification such as the CPA, which in many states requires 30 college credits beyond the bachelor's degree (as well as a minimum number of accounting courses)
  • You could compete against individuals with master's degrees for the same positions

Source: *PayScale.com (June 2012 figures).

Courses and Requirements

A bachelor's degree program in economic crime investigation combines foundational courses in criminal justice, accounting and computer science with other courses in such fields as law, psychology and economics. Most undergraduate programs also require a general education core, which typically includes a number of credits in subjects such as math, science, foreign language and the humanities. Exact courses will depend on your degree program and specialization, but they could include the following:

  • Business or criminal law
  • Computer forensics
  • White-collar crime
  • Forensic accounting
  • Financial accounting
  • Computer networking and security
  • Research methods in criminal justice

Many bachelor's degree programs in economic crime management also include an internship portion, which can provide students with practical experience in such fields as business, computer forensics or managerial economics. At some schools, a technical elective or project may be substituted for or required in addition to the internship.

If you plan to become a CPA, additional requirements may need to be met, including a number of credits beyond the bachelor's degree and specific accounting courses. Check the requirements in your state to be sure your program will help you meet state standards.

Online Degree Options

Several economic crime investigation bachelor's degree programs are available via the Internet. While online and on-site programs cover many of the same foundational subjects - accounting, finance, computer science and criminal justice - a school may not offer the same specializations in its online and on-campus programs.

Some schools offer a single degree program online, while others offer concentrations in such areas as financial investigation or fraud prevention and detection. Online programs may specifically prepare graduates to take the CFE exam. A number of online degree programs are available in fields closely related to economic crime investigation, such as computer forensics and forensic accounting.

Stand Out with This Degree

Graduates with real-world experience often have an edge over job candidates without such a background. Therefore, economic crime investigation students should take advantage of any opportunities to put their education into practice during their bachelor's degree program. Select an internship in a field in which you are interested, learn to use specialized computer software programs and get hands-on experience in the school's learning center or research lab, if available.

Another way to stand out is pursue industry certification, such as the CFE designation. The certification is designed to demonstrate your ability in fraud detection and prevention. To earn it, you'll need to become a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, provide three professional references and pass the CFE examination.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BSCJ: Law Enforcement
      • BS in Corrections
      • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
      • BSCJ: Homeland Security
      • BSCJ: Juvenile Justice
      • BSCJ: Crime Scene Investigation
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA: Criminal Justice
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Homeland Security
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Post University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Criminal Justice, B.S.
      • Psychology, B.S. - Emphasis in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Trident University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Homeland Security (BSHLS)
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Corrections
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Edmond, OK

    University of Central Oklahoma

  • Online Programs Available
    8. Utica College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Cybercrime and Fraud Investigation
      • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
      • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation
      • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Fraud Prevention and Detection
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Argosy University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor - Business Administration

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • BSCJ: Law Enforcement
  • BS in Corrections
  • Bachelor: Criminal Justice

Which subject are you interested in?

Saint Leo University

  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Homeland Security

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Post University

  • B.S. in Criminal Justice

Education Level:

Colorado Christian University

  • Criminal Justice, B.S.
  • Psychology, B.S. - Emphasis in Criminal Justice

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Trident University

  • Homeland Security (BSHLS)

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

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Utica College

  • BS in Cybersecurity - Cybercrime and Fraud Investigation
  • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
  • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation

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