SUNY Old Westbury to offer a forensic-accounting first

Line items: Starting this fall, SUNY Old Westbury will offer Long Island's first forensic accounting master-level degree program.

In a Long Island first – and a New York State rarity – SUNY Old Westbury will begin offering a Master of Science in Forensic Accounting program later this year.

The 12-month, 30-credit trek – offered in a three-semester arc – is for graduate students seeking a career as a forensic accountant or fraud examiner. The first forensic accounting master class is scheduled to kick off with SUNY Old Westbury’s Fall 2018 semester.

Designed to satisfy the 150-credit hour requirements required of New York State CPA licensure, the program also “serves as a strong foundation for those seeking Certified Fraud Examiner certification,” according to the university, by weaving the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ CFE Manual into the curriculum and providing “a comprehensive overview of materials covered in the CFE exam.”

Raj Devasagayam, dean of the SUNY Old Westbury School of Business, referenced ACFE studies showing that worldwide businesses lose nearly 5 percent of annual revenues – as much as $3.5 trillion each year – to occupational fraud.

That’s clear evidence, the dean added, of the need for skilled fraud examiners.

Calvin Butts III: Highly accountable.

“We will prepare professionals with the skills and preparation to identify fraud when it occurs, and to inform decision-making processes and develop procedures to protect against it,” Devasagayam said in a statement.

Despite those heavy losses, finding a master-level program in forensic (meaning “suitable for use in a court of law”) accounting can be a daunting task. Buffalo’s Canisius College, the SUNY College at Brockport and the SUNY Albany School of Business are the only other New York colleges or universities offering a specific forensic accounting master of science degree.

Other schools, including New York University and Stony Brook University, offer master of accounting degrees that include forensic-accounting studies, but not specific master of forensic accounting programs.

Manhattan’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice offers an advanced certificate in forensic accounting, while Utica College offers an MBA in Economic Crime and Fraud Management and an MS in Financial Crime and Compliance Management, both loose equivalents to SUNY Old Westbury’s new master’s program.

But insofar as straight-up forensic accounting master degree programs in New York State, the pickings are slim  though theyll soon grow to include SUNY Old Westbury.

SUNY Old Westbury President Calvin Butts III said the university was excited to expand its “high-quality stable of graduate business programs.”

“An Old Westbury education in accounting has for decades prepared our graduates to excel when they sit for the state’s certified public accountancy exam,” Butts said Wednesday. “Now, by combining our existing undergraduate and graduate programs with our new program in forensic accounting, we are offering among the most comprehensive services in the preparation for the CPAs of tomorrow.”