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Follow the money: New degree in financial forensics

2014-12-10 00:00:00.0

Financial fraud is everywhere, whether it’s the latest email scam, a corporate scandal on the scale of Enron or an elaborate Ponzi scheme targeting unsuspecting investors, like those involving Bernie Madoff or Fair Finance.

The University of Akron

Thomas Calderon, Ph.D.

“When you look at the world of business, one of the biggest challenges is essentially following the money,” says Thomas Calderon, Ph.D., chair of the George W. Daverio School of Accountancy at The University of Akron.

But following the money to unwind financial fraud requires a combination of skills: knowledge of business and finance law on one hand, and the ability to understand and analyze financial transactions on the other. Lawyers have some, but not all, of those skills, as do accountants. What if investigators were trained to do both?

The University of Akron is introducing a new joint degree program in which students will learn all those skills, earning both a law degree and a master’s degree in accounting. The J.D./M.S.A. in Financial Forensics is the only program of its kind in the country, Calderon says.

'Everybody is concerned about fraud'

The FBI, the Secret Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau all need people who can spot fraud and follow the money. Those who prosecute white-collar crime, however, often were non-business majors before law school, Calderon says. “They have no idea of what the money is.”

The Financial Forensics program, which will enroll its first students for Fall Semester 2015, is the result of a partnership between UA’s School of Law and the School of Accountancy, part of the College of Business Administration.

A full-time student with an undergraduate background in accounting could complete the program in seven semesters, Calderon says, which is one semester more than it takes to earn just a law degree.

Professional certifications in financial forensics for accountants are based on much narrower curricula than students will experience in the J.D./M.S.A. program. Just one of the program’s courses in financial fraud would provide a student with the background needed to take the exam for Certified Fraud Examiner, Calderon says.

“Everybody’s concerned about fraud,” Calderon says. “It’s not because it’s anything new. But we have had a series of perfect storms. And so having a program like this responds to what has been happening in the market.”

More information about the joint J.D./M.S.A. in Financial Forensics.

Media contact: Roger Mezger, 330-972-6482 or

The College of Business Administration is introducing a new joint degree program in which students will learn how to detect fraud, earning both a law degree and a master’s degree in accounting. More about the degree.