Updated on April 22, 2024
Article bySayantan Mukhopadhyay
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Difference Between CFA and CQF

CFA is the short form used for Chartered Financial Analyst. This degree can be pursued by individuals who want career advancements and are interested in showcasing their knowledge and skills by specializing in finance. In contrast, the full form of CQF is Certificate in Quantitative Finance, and this course allows aspirants to secure relevant jobs in finance, investment, hedge funds, etc.


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There shouldn’t be any doubt about choosing a CFA or CQF exam. Both are quite different in scope, but most importantly, each is done at a separate time of anyone’s career. Usually, CFA is done when the professionals have a few years of experience and want to get into investment analysis. On the other hand, CQF is done with more than 10-15 years of experience. So it’s a general observation, and you can do CQF whenever you choose. All you need to do is to pass the test.

CFA vs CQF – Comparative Table

To make a mark in financial analysis and investment, one may either choose CFA or CQF as per the skills, qualifications, and aptitude they have. However, both these courses and their examinations require putting arduous efforts, but once cleared, career aspirants will have a lot of career doors open in front of them.  

In case of confusion, whether to go for CFA or CQF, individuals must explore the differences between the two fields. Let us have a look at a few of the differences between them in the form of the comparative table below:

CFA helps individuals advance their careers by levelling up their knowledge.CFACQF
TypeIt is a course that has three levels, all of them being mandatory for career aspirants to go through.It is the course that comes in two level, but these are optional for the aspirants to go through.
DurationIt is the course that comes in two levels, but these are optional for the aspirants to go through.CQF is a six-month comprehensive course.
CostIt is less expensive than CQF.It is a costly course and is criticized for the same very often.
OpinionIt takes around 2 to 3 years on average for individuals to complete this course successfully.CQF is a program that gives individuals access to lifetime financial resources, using which they can keep updating their skills and knowledge. Hence, the cost involved in pursuing this course becomes worth it.

What is Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)?

CFA is not for the faint-hearted. It’s considered one of the toughest exams in the finance domain. So if you want to be a Chartered Financial Analyst, make sure that you’re committed to the program till the end. It’s a long haul, and it would take 2-3 years to complete. Till then, you need to commit to studying hard and give your best shot.

  • If we dig into the statistics, we would see that 134,762 members have passed out CFA exams, and they belong to 145 countries worldwide. So you can say that CFA brought together students from all over the world to experience the finest ideas and explore magnificent career options.
  • The best part is you can pursue CFA even while you are working. You must also have four years of full-time work experience (not always investment-related) to get your certification.
  • CFA is considered one of the most comprehensive courses in the entire domain of finance. So once you get the certification, you would be considered an authority in the sub-domain of investment analysis, portfolio management, and equity research.
  • The work opportunities would be countless.

What is a Certificate in Quantitative Finance (CQF)?

There are three magnificent benefits of pursuing a Certificate in Quantitative Finance (CQF).



  • First, this is one of the most reputed courses in the world in quantitative finance. Second, the course duration is six months, making it easy for professionals to manage work and study. Third, this course doesn’t require you to leave the job and pursue it full time; you can do it in your spare time and clear it while working simultaneously.
  • The course is designed so that students can easily broaden their skill-base. But if you think studying a little will do the trick, you’re wrong. Many students have mentioned that the curriculum is perfect for one year, but covering it in 6 months is arduous.
  • CQF is purely dependent on self-study. If you want to make your mark, you mostly need to depend on yourself and how much you can study independently. Even if you get full access to the faculty members, the hard work needs to be put in by you.

Key Differences between CFA & CQF

The major differences between CFA and CQF can be identified with respect to the following parameters.

Let us have a quick look at them:

  • Comprehensibility: If we compare the comprehensiveness of both of these courses, CFA is much more comprehensive. But that doesn’t mean that CQF includes very little in its curriculum. It’s intensive too, but not as much as CFA.
  • Duration: If you want to pursue CQF, all you need is six months to complete it. But to pursue CFA and to clear it, you need at least 2-3 years of rigorous study and continuous improvement in your knowledge base.
  • Primers: In CFA, level-1 is a nice foundation for students because level-2 and level-3 are more complex and comprehensive. In the case of CQF, they offer primer courses in mathematics, finance, and programming so that you can build a good foundation before actually digging into the curriculum.
  • Salary differences: Before going into salary differences, it’s important to note that students pursue these courses. CFA is usually done at the beginning of a career (not always, but mostly), and CQF is done when students already have many years of experience in the relevant domain. Naturally, there would be a significant gap between the compensations. So comparing the salary difference doesn’t add to our conclusions of how these courses are, as experience plays a huge role in determining salary. A newbie with a CFA degree earns between $47,000 to $52,000 per annum. Once they get more experience, they earn more and can reach six figures soon. On the other hand, mentioning a person’s salary with a CQF degree seems difficult as the person already has so many other qualifications along with CQF.
  • Value of the course: If you look at both the courses, CFA may seem more valuable from a layman’s point of view. But if we look closely, we would see that the value of the course depends totally on the knowledge-base and the experience of a professional. Generally, when a professional chooses to pursue CQF, he already has at least a Master’s or Ph.D. in Quantitative Finance or has 10-15 years of experience to appreciate the material of CQF. But in the case of CFA, people come fresh out of college, or in some cases, people pursue it while having only a few years of experience; thus, the value of CFA seems more than CQF.
  • Fees: The fees are very reasonable for a CFA course. Even if it’s for 2-3 years, you still need to pay around US$3000 as a whole. But regarding CQF, the fees are huge, around $18,000, almost six times of the CFA course.

Why pursue CFA?

There are many reasons that inspire individuals to pursue CFA programs. A few of them have been listed below:

  • CFA is one of the courses you can’t ignore if you want to make your mark in the investment field. CFA is the most comprehensive and globally recognized course. People who think of going into equity research or hedge fund. If you want to go to investment banking, you need an MBA in finance more than a CFA.
  • CFA is reasonably priced. You don’t need to expend a fortune to do the course. At the same time, completing CFA can be counted as a milestone in your career.
  • Experience is the key in CFA. If you think too much about the salary, you would be mistaken initially. With having relevant experience and CFA, ultimately, you will earn much more than your peers. As every plant needs time to grow bigger and better, CFA helps build your professional life in the same manner.
  • You can pursue CFA while working a full-time job, making it much more convenient than other heavy-weight courses.

Why pursue CQF?

There are many reasons that inspire individuals to pursue CQF programs. A few of them have been listed below:

  • The first reason for pursuing CQF is its flexibility. You can choose your time and place, and you can pursue the entire course at your convenience. Very few globally recognized courses provide this kind of flexibility.
  • People with little experience or no time to pursue a big course can’t prepare for courses. So Fitch Learning came up with a curriculum that can be covered within six months. However, many students mention that they would do it better if given more time. However, it’s still worth pursuing a course that is intense, globally recognized, and adds tremendous value to your professional curve in just a six months duration.
  • Now, as it’s a self-study course, it’s natural to expect hindrances. What if you have realized that you can’t pursue the course immediately after you have already registered for it? You would delay the course by six programs, including the one you have currently enrolled for.
  • The application process is merit-based. You give a test, pass, and be allowed to do the course. There is no fluff and no hidden eligibility criteria.

CFA vs. CQF Infographics

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Let’s understand the difference between these two streams with the help of these CFA vs. CQF infographics.

CFA vs. CQF Infographics

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This article has been a guide to the Differences Between CFA vs CQF. We explain the differences in the form of a comparative table, infographic & key differences lists. You may have a look at the following related articles to explore other topics on finance courses and programs.

Reader Interactions


  1. Patrick Snyder says

    Excellent Resource with informative and useful blogs. As I am a beginner and I really want to learn more about CFA. If you have any guide or any case study related to CFA? then please share I would really appreciate you for this.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      thanks Patrick! Thanks for your appreciation. You can refer to this complete beginners guide to CFA Examination for details about CFA Exam.

  2. Kaden Hunt says

    Thanks for giving a clear comparison between CFA and CQF. You really gave me the in depth knowledge between these two. Thanks once again. I want to change my field from Science to finance marketing. So which degree I must prefer?

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      thanks. If you’re thinking to change your field from science to finance or marketing, then you must try doing MBA which is a good fit for you. With an MBA Degree from a reputed institute will definitely help you in landing a good job in a good company and many of consulting industries are in search of fresh and unique talent.