CFP vs MBA – Differences

CFP exam is Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, USA and prepare you for roles in estate planning, retirement planning, risk management and financial management. Whereas, MBA is usually a 1- 2 year full-time course offered by various institutes and focusses on preparing students for a large number of careers depending on specialization like Finance, Marketing, IT, Operations, HR etc

We will discuss the following in this article –

  1. CFP vs. MBA Infographics
  2. What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?
  3. What is a Masters in Business Administration (MBA)?
  4. CFP vs. MBA Exam Requirements
  5. Why pursue CFP?
  6. Why pursue an MBA?

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CFP vs. MBA Infographics

Reading time: 90 seconds

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


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CFP vs. MBA – Comparative Table

Organizing bodyThe exams are conducted by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board), USA.The exams are organized by individual institutions and universities.
PatternThe course consists of only one level divided into two 3-hour exams, which can be written in a single day.The course is distributed across semesters (2 terms per year) or trimesters (3 terms per year).
Duration of CourseThe course can be completed within a period of 36 months.The duration of the courses varies in the range of 1 to 2 years based on the type of program as well as the institute.
SyllabusSome of the main subjects are The course curriculum includes
  • Managerial Economics
  • Accounting
  • Business Statistics
  • Operations Research
  • Financial Management
  • Marketing Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Business Ethics
Exam feesThe exam fees vary in the range of $825 (early) to $1,025 (late) depending on the time of registration. The standard registration fee is $925.The cost of an MBA degree varies across institutes and it mostly lies in the range of $40,000 to $60,000. It also depends on the type of program (regular, executive, part-time, etc.)
JobsIn the US, approximately 20% of the financial advisors have CFP credential. Some of the common profiles include MBA graduates have a large number of career options based on their specialization, which can be finance, marketing, operations, IT, etc. Some of the common profiles include
  • Financial Analyst
  • Operations Manager
  • Financial Advisor
  • Human Resource Manager
  • Marketing Manager
DifficultyThe exams are moderately difficult. During 2019, the overall pass rate was 62%, while that for the first-timers was even higher at 66%.It is difficult to get into Ivy League colleges. But once enrolled in a program, almost all the students pass the MBA exams.
Exam dateThe schedule for the upcoming exams during the year 2021
  • Mar 09-16 (Registration started from Nov 12, 2020)
  • Jul 06-13 (Registration to start from Mar 18, 2021)
  • Nov 02-09 (Registration to start from Jul 15, 2021)
The exam dates vary across institutes. For semester format, exams take place every 6 months. On the other hand, the exams take place every 4 months in the case of the trimester format.

What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?

CFP helps you gain a seal of professional certification as a financial planner. This course is conducted by the Certified Planner Board of Standards or the CFP board. This board is based in the USA. Twenty-five other organizations are authorized to conduct this certification course examination because of their affiliation with the CFP. CFP gives you international recognition as a financial planner, affiliated organizations outside the USA, and the international owners of CFP.

The examination continuously for 2 days for 4 hours per day gives you the designation of CFP for which you need to pay a fee for registration, examination, and study material. And along with paying the fee, the candidate needs to meet the course’s education criteria by appearing for examinations, experiencing financial planning, and following its ethical standards by following is code of ethics. The specifications of this course or this certificate are different for both the USA and the UK candidates.

What is a Masters in Business Administration (MBA)?

This master’s degree is not just a certification; it’s a fully-fledged degree with options of multiple specializations. Depending on the institution you clear your MBA from, you will have your national and international recognition added to your career. This degree helps develop your talent and know-how important in building your career in business and management. This course helps you build your career in either a private or a public sector or even in a government sector company. MBA focuses on important subjects of commerce such as economics, accounting, marketing, and also operations, along with other optional subjects that the candidate would like to pursue. The candidate can use the optional subject for either his personal or professional requirements. The most exciting part of the MBA is its internship program that the candidate can pursue in a company; this guides them to their right and required job opportunities after completing their course.

CFP and MBA exam requirements


Requirement for examination

  1. This examination does not need to be taken lightly as it is a two-day exam for approximately 10 hrs with many multiple-choice questions.
  2. The examination window opens in March, July, and November in different locations.
  3. If you are not good at studying by yourself or you have difficulties understanding the subject, please seek guidance as you need to pay the examination fee.


Requirements for examination

  1. Only after clearing a GMAT or a GRE test the candidate can seek admission to an MBA institute.
  2. MBA is a 2-year program followed by graduation.
  3. An internship is a part of this program.
  4. In some institutes, only candidates with professional experience can apply.

Why Pursue CFP?

If client management is on your mind and if you are also good at planning finances for your clients, that is their money, then you must complete CFP as it will add value to your career by boosting your talent and know-how skills. You can work for individual clients by handling their financial goals by guiding them through legal restrictions, financial laws, investment and tax planning, insurances and benefits, etc.

To understand the client better, you need to understand his financial requirement. For that, you need to understand the client’s business better. To do so, you need to prepare a background, do a little homework by interviewing the client, know about his finances, incoming and outgoing money, prepare a financial plan for your client, execute the plan accordingly and finally monitor the outcome of the plan. That’s the financial planner’s moral responsibility,

CFP gives you the option of working as a self-employed, or in an organization as a financial advisor. These organizations can be an insurance company, a bank, a mutual fund company, or an AMCAMCAsset Management Company is a company that takes the financial assets of a person, company or another asset management company (generally this will be high net worth individuals) and use the assets to invest in companies that use those as a operational investment, financial investment or any other investment in order to grow the more.

Why Pursue an MBA?

To add value to your existing career MBA is just perfect. Even if you are a fresher and have just passed out of an MBA institute, you definitely will start your career well. MBA is added value to your career, to your education. Besides giving you the option of choosing your specialization MBA also trains you in economics, accounting, operations, and marketing in depth. The internship is an important part of the MBA, gives the candidate the corporate world exposure required as most of the students need to join a company to know and live in the work culture.


The decision between CFP vs. MBA can be made easier if you are clear on what genre of knowledge you wish to pursue. The answer lies between financial planning or management. The scope gets restrictive to financial planning with CFP and wider with management in MBA. Make your choice wisely, keeping in mind all that we discussed above.

Reader Interactions


  1. Austin Joseph says

    Nice article and great comparison. I was searching the notes on CA and MBA, the differences between these two. But I didn’t found it, so please share me if you have any kind of study material on CA vs MBA differences. Thanks in advance.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Hi Austin, Thanks for the note. You can check this link – CA vs MBA to know the differences between CA and MBA.

  2. Ashley Maverick says

    First I want to thank u for sharing this article and making my confusion a bit clear. I also wanted to ask you something that is, i am preparing for an MBA interview and I am a bit scared and actually don’t know what questions do the interviewer asks during the interview? Can you tell me some common questions that are usually asked?

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Many thanks Ashley! And good to hear that you are preparing for an MBA interview. Well you don’t need to worry and don’t be scared. I can’t tell you the actual question which the interviewers ask but I can tell you some common MBA interview questions.
      1. How would your colleagues describe you?
      2. Give your view on management
      3. What is your definition of success and failure?
      4. Do you know who our competitors are?
      5. Do you feel that you are an organized person?
      6. How do you manage your time?
      7. Are you a risk taker or do you like to play it safe? Give reasons
      These are some of the common MBA interview questions. I hope this may help you. Good Luck!!

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