From practitioner to educator

What are your options in teaching fraud examination?

By George R. Young, Ph.D., CFE, CPA;George Curtis, J.D., Educator Associate

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 Fraud EDge: A forum for fraud-fighting faculty in higher ed



Late last year, one of us (George Young) was trying to fill an adjunct position with someone interested in teaching an undergraduate fraud examination course. He contacted the local ACFE chapter and received an overwhelming response from members who wanted to teach. Approximately half of the respondents met the qualifications for the position, but all were very interested in teaching.  


Practitioners periodically say: “I’ve thought about pursuing a career in academia. What do you suggest I do?” First, we commend them for asking the question; collecting information is the first step towards making an informed decision. Like many of you, we have experience as practitioners and, years ago, had an interest in pursuing a full-time career in education. We’ve taught part-time as adjuncts and as full-time faculty members and have had experience teaching at community colleges and at universities.  


This issue’s column is for those of you who have never taught but are interested in teaching or those of you who presently teach as adjuncts or instructors and need more information about your academic options. The information addresses only U.S. academic settings. The academic structure outside the U.S. varies by country. Also, the information here might not apply to every U.S. academic institution; institutions and their administrations might vary slightly.  


So … what are your options? 

Those interested in working in academia have three choices: adjunct, instructor and professor. The “professor” choice is, at most universities, made up of three levels: assistant, associate and full. Here we discuss the workload of these choices in the semester system. (Some schools use the quarter system rather than semesters; quarters are shorter in length.) 


As an adjunct, you can teach while working as a full-time practitioner. (And it’s a good way to try out teaching.) The typical workload is one or two courses a semester, and the school issues your contract semester by semester. The primary benefit is that the adjunct is allowed to focus on teaching. No service (e.g., sitting on committees, speaking to groups outside the university) or research is required. The pay, however, is low and there are no benefits such as health insurance. 

Adjuncts teach courses for which they are credentialed to teach; this means that an adjunct teaching undergraduate courses must have a specific number of graduate semester hours in the subject area he or she is teaching. For example, an adjunct teaching an undergraduate course in criminology at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) must have 18 graduate semester hours in criminal justice. (This is a requirement of the regional accrediting agency that accredits FAU.1) To teach master’s courses, the requirement is either 1) a terminal degree (Ph.D., DBA or J.D., whichever applies) in the area and 18 graduate semester hours in the subject or 2) 18 graduate semester hours in the subject and significant relevant work experience.


An instructor teaches full time. At some colleges, the instructor position is called “clinical professor” or “professor of practice”; the position and responsibilities are the same. Typically, the course load is four courses for each semester and the contract is usually for the nine-month academic year, which is two semesters long. Summer teaching can be an option, but those courses usually are offered first to faculty members who are tenured or are earning tenure (described below). Instructors, just like adjuncts, must be credentialed. The requirements are essentially the same as the requirements for adjuncts.


To be considered for a tenure-earning position (professor), one usually must have an earned doctorate (Ph.D.2) in the area, e.g., accounting, in which one is hired or a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) if teaching in the criminal justice/criminology area or tax, or law in colleges of business. 


Some accounting schools will only hire professors who received their doctorates at schools accredited by the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate School of Business (AACSB).3 The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) recently developed a certification program for criminal justice/criminology programs but so far hasn’t employed a distinction similar to AACSB. Therefore, before you begin a doctoral education in business, you should decide whether you want to work at a school that only hires — for tenure-earning positions — those who have doctorates from AACSB-accredited schools. (AASCB-accredited schools will sometimes hire persons who have doctorates from non-AACSB accredited schools but only as instructors, which means that the compensation is significantly less and those hired usually won’t be able to earn tenure and be promoted.)   

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