Difference Between CFA and CQF

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

There shouldn’t be any doubt about choosing a CFA exam or CQF exam.  Both of them are quite different in scope, and most importantly, each of them is done at a separate time of anyone’s career. Usually, CFA is done when the professionals have few years of experience and want to get into investment analysisGet Into Investment AnalysisInvestment analysis is the method adopted by analysts to evaluate the investment opportunities, profitability, and associated risks in their portfolios. In addition, it helps them to determine whether the investment is worth it or more or sort. On the other hand, CQF is done when one has more than 10-15 years of experience. It’s a general observation, and you can do CQF whenever you choose. All you need to do is to pass the test.


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CFA vs. CQF Infographics

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

cfa vs cqf

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What is Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)?

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 the domain of Quantitative Finance. Second, the duration of the course is just 6 months, which makes it easy for professionals to manage both work and study. Third, this course doesn’t need 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 in such a way 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 an arduous task.
  • 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 would get full access to the faculty members, the hard work needs to be put in by you.

Key Differences between CFA & CQF

  • 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 is.
  • Duration: If you want to pursue CQF, all you need is 6 months to complete. 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, the level-1 acts as a nice foundation for students. Because level-2 and level-3 are much more complex and comprehensive, in the case of CQF, they offer primer courses on Mathematics, Finance, and Programing 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 do these courses. CFA is usually done at the beginning of a career (not always, but mostly), and CQF is done when the students already have many years of experience in the relevant domain. So naturally, there would be a significant gap between the compensation. 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 the US $47,000 to the US $52,000 per annum. Once he has more experience, he begins to earn more and reaches six figures soon. On the other hand, mentioning the salary of a person 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, from a layman’s point of view, CFA may seem more valuable. 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 Masters 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 and pursue CFA, 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 in regards to CQF, the fees are huge, around US $18,000, almost six times of CFA course.

Why pursue CFA?

Why pursue CQF?

  • 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 experience little or no time to pursue a big course. So Fitch Learning came up with a curriculum that can be covered within 6 months. However, many students mention that they would be able to do it better if they would have been given more time. However, still, it’s worthy of pursuing a course that is intense, globally recognized, and adds tremendous value to your professional curve and just of 6 months duration.
  • Now, as it’s a self-study course, it’s natural to expect hindrances. So what would you do if you are not able to pursue the course immediately, and what if you have realized it after registering for the course? You would delay the program by 6 programs, including the one you have currently enrolled for.
  • The application process is merit-based. You give a test, you pass, and you would be allowed to do the course. There is no fluff and no hidden eligibility criteria.


If you want to make your mark in financial analysis and investment, you choose CFA over any other financial course. But make sure that you are willing to pass CFA as it needs arduous effort to clear all levels. Even if CQF is severely criticized for its cost, it allows you to have access to lifetime programs, which will update your knowledge over time, and you will remain an industry expert for a long period. Again, CQF is not for everybody. Before enrolling for the program, know that you’re a good match.

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.