Auditing is the field of financial reporting involved with examining financial statements and data to find fraud or opportunities for business improvement. If you are interested in earning a degree in auditing, you might wonder what classes you will need to take. Auditing programs exist at both the undergraduate and graduate level and are closely related to accounting programs. Most auditing programs exist as specializations, concentrations and sequences within an accounting major, though there are a few schools that offer specialized bachelor’s degree programs in internal auditing, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Generally, students of auditing will need a broad business background, a deep knowledge of accounting principles and practices and focused coursework in auditing practices.
Business Requirements in Auditing Degree Programs
Auditing and accounting degree programs are part of a university’s business school. It is important that aspiring auditors understand business as a whole, rather than merely the theories and technical practices of financial reporting and examination. To achieve this outcome, colleges offering undergraduate auditing degrees usually include a list of required coursework in business subjects outside the field of accounting. To earn your bachelor’s degree in auditing, you may need to study organizational behavior, business law, business strategy, principles of finance, principles of marketing, microeconomics, operations management, business calculus and business statistics. Graduate auditing students typically complete a more narrowly focused curriculum, since they already studied these important disciplines of business during their undergraduate education.
Because auditors look for opportunities to improve business operations as well as for evidence of fraud, they must be able to understand how businesses function and how to help a company improve its operations.
Accounting and Auditing Classes
Accounting and auditing are such similar fields that the BLS lists the two career path as a single occupational profile. It is no surprise, then, that aspiring auditors must complete a great deal of coursework in accounting, or that more specialized auditing classes are offered by accounting departments.
At the undergraduate level, an auditing student’s core accounting courses may include principles of accounting, financial accounting, managerial accounting, cost management, accounting information systems, international accounting and intermediate accounting. Accounting coursework in a master’s degree program is more complex and might include advanced studies in tax planning, accounting systems and data processing, managerial accounting, financial accounting, business law and business ethics.
Specialized auditing coursework may include fraud examination, information systems auditing, computer assisted auditing techniques, case studies in internal auditing, international internal auditing, professional interviewing skills and an auditing internship experience. A master’s degree in auditing program may explore subjects such as auditing theory, auditing practice, fraud auditing, auditing and assurance services, fraud examination, forensic accounting, internal auditing, white collar and financial crimes, taxation of business entities and accounting for government and nonprofit organizations.
The extent of your specialized auditing coursework depends on your degree program. An auditing concentration in an accounting program may be more specialized than a minor in auditing, while a master’s degree in internal auditing may have an even narrower focus.
Job Opportunities in Auditing
Why should you study auditing specifically, instead of taking only the basic auditing coursework required in a general accounting curriculum? For candidates with the right personality type, abilities and ambitions, auditing can be an interesting and rewarding career. Your work allows you to catch perpetrators of fraud, embezzlement and other financial crimes or to find ways to save businesses money so that they can operate more efficiently.
There are many different career paths for auditors. Some work in internal auditing, reviewing the finances of their own company to identify mismanagement of funds or to act as consultants offering advice on how to save money and reduce waste. Other auditors are external, or independent, auditors. They are brought in by another party, such as a government entity or a group of investors, to inspect the company’s financial reports. If you are as interested in technology as you are in the practices of auditing, then you might make an excellent information technology auditor, a type of internal auditor who focuses on examining the reliability of computer system controls.
You can advance your auditing career with a credential such as Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP), Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA), Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA), Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).