CIMA vs MBA – What Suits You More? You may get confused about what to choose between CIMA certification and MBA? The confusion is natural. At one side you would have a certification that cuts off all the fluff, offers you a smart alternative to learning comprehensive business skills and on the other side, you’re being championed as a hero in the professional world as you now would complete what everyone dreams of doing, an MBA.
The question is often not what you want. Rather what you’re programmed to believe. Here in this article, we will provide you the details of each of the courses with a hope that you would put your beliefs in light and see what’s more important to you – a degree with charisma or certification with a promise to become something extra-ordinary? The choice is really up to you.
Read the article in full and then decide what makes you tick.
The article is articulated in this order:
- CIMA vs MBA Infographics
- What is the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification?
- What is the Masters of Business Administration (MBA)?
- Key Differences – CIMA vs MBA
- Why pursue CIMA?
- Why pursue an MBA?
CIMA vs MBA Infographics
Reading time: 90 seconds
Let’s understand the difference between these two streams with the help of this CIMA vs MBA Infographics.
CIMA vs MBA Summary
|Certification Organised by:||CIMA is being organized by one of the most reputed management accounting institutes in the world, i.e. Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, United Kingdom.||MBA in Finance is recognized by a lot of top universities in the world. There’s nothing specific about it. The top notch universities which offer MBA degree are Harvard University, Stanford University, and MIT University among many.|
|Number of levels:||CIMA has three levels to clear – Operational Level, Management Level & Strategic Level.||There are many variations in MBA programs. Thus, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Each MBA has different curriculum designed by different universities. Usually, students need to study for 2 years to get their MBA degree. First year they learn about General Management and the last year, they’re allowed to take a specialization (sometimes one major and another minor).|
|Mode/Duration of exam:||Examinations to obtain CIMA are being split into two steps. First, you need to clear a 90 minute objective test for each subject at each level. And then, you need to sit for a 3 hour case study to go to the next level.||MBA has different examinations. Take for example, case study. Case study examinations take more time than a subject related examination. And the duration of the examinations is solely the discretion of the institute you study.|
|Exam Window||There are four windows a year when you can sit the case study exams (February, May, August and November). |
Operational Level Exam Date:- 7th - 11th February 2017
Management Level Exam Date:- 14th - 18th February 2017
Strategic Level Exam Date:- 21st - 25th February 2017
Operational Level Exam Date:- 9th - 13th May 2017
Management Level Exam Date:- 16th - 20th May 2017
Strategic Level Exam Date:- 23rd - 27th May 2017
Operational Level Exam Date:- 8th - 12th August 2017
Management Level Exam Date:- 15th - 219h August 2017
Strategic Level Exam Date:- 22nd - 26th August 2017
Operational Level Exam Date:- 7th - 11th November 2017
Management Level Exam Date:- 14th - 18th November 2017
Strategic Level Exam Date:- 21st - 25th November 2017
|MBA exams generally happen twice a year. It’s called semester exams. Other than semester exams, students need to go through internal exams and project works which are evaluated by internal faculties.|
|Subjects||1. Strategic management|
2. Risk management
3. Financial strategy
4. Project and Relationship management
5. Advanced management accounting
6. Advanced financial reporting
7. Organizational management
8. Management accounting
9. Financial reporting
|The core subjects include:
• Analytical- accounting, managerial economics, operations research, organizational behavior, economic policy, and business statistics/quantitative analysis
• Functional-financial management, human resource management, marketing management, and operations management
• Ethics-business ethics, corporate social responsibility, or corporate governance
|Pass Percentage||CIMA November 2016 results:|
|In MBA, pass percentages don’t count much. Because if you’re doing an MBA from a top notch institute, then there almost zero failure rate. Thus the first thing is to get an entry to a top notch MBA institute through an entrance exam like GMAT, CAT etc.|
|Fees||The fees for completing CIMA are usually higher than other professional qualifications. It’s around US $2500 if students pass all the exams in first attempt.||The fees for a top-notch MBA are almost 20 times of CIMA. It is on an average US $50,000. The reason it is so costly is mainly because most of the time MBA is a residential program.|
|Job opportunities/Job titles||The opportunities for CIMA are magnificent. People who have cleared CIMA can work in sport, media, fashion, publishing and in many other industries. As CIMA has a consistent focus on business perspective, many students have also joined as managing directors, chief executives of many companies.||After completing an MBA, you can choose any industry to work. Depending on your specialization, you can join in the top management if you have done your MBA from a world class university.|
What is the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification?
- CIMA is not a course for faint-hearted. If you want to complete this course, you need to put effort very few are ready to put in professional life. A small percentage of people do and they make all the difference in their career, organization and at a global level. CIMA needs you to complete the operational and management level first. Once you complete them, you can sit for the strategic level. The pass mark is 50% and truth to be told it’s hard but worthy.
- Unlike other accounting courses, CIMA offers a comprehensive course which emphasizes on accounting as well as business. CIMA not only focuses on the accounting domain of knowledge but also helps students understand strategy and mitigation of risk in business.
- CIMA has a foundation of 90 years and since 1919 it has been serving its students. So, without quality education, no course can sustain for so long. It’s also committed to providing the students’ value and excellence. There’s no doubt why after doing CIMA, professionals join companies even as CEOs, MDs, etc.
What is the Masters of Business Administration (MBA)?
- It’s the most popular course ever and if you are in the field of education or any professional field, you would know the value of an MBA. MBA is a course that is offered by many top-notch universities in the world. MBA is valuable if you can choose top class business schools over the second and third-tier business schools in the world.
- MBA is beneficial only when you put your heart and soul out into the course. MBA is much more comprehensive than any other professional qualifications. You need to cover so much in a matter of 2 years (sometimes 1 year). So there is almost no time to sleep (think IIM and Harvard) and you’re on your way.
- MBA allows you to choose your specialization. By letting you choose your specialization, you can choose what you want to read more than other subjects and in which direction you want to go. Very few professional courses have this flexibility of choosing your own specialization.
- MBA bridges the gap between being a student and being a professional. If you let go of the hype and give your whole heart to it, you will definitely succeed.
Key Differences – CIMA vs MBA
There are significant differences between CIMA and MBA. Let’s look at them one by one.
- Popularity: You already know that an MBA is a more famous professional degree than CIMA. No matter what background you are from, there is an MBA available for you. New subjects like Corporate Social Responsibility, Leadership, Business Intelligence, etc. are being introduced as specialization. Whereas CIMA is more popular in UK. But gradually, professionals in the finance domain have been realizing the value of CIMA.
- Fees: This is a huge difference. If you want to pursue an MBA, you need to expend a fortune whereas CIMA is much more affordable. If you clear all the levels of CIMA in one go, your cost of completing the course would be around US $2,500. But if you want to pursue a top-notch MBA from a world-class university, your average expenditure would be around US $50,000, twenty times of CIMA fees. Thus, if you want to pursue CIMA, you can afford the fees by yourself, whereas for an MBA, you can take a loan from the bank or you can use the savings of your parents to afford it.
- Value: Compared to fees if we compare the values both of these courses offer in terms of salary at the end of the day, there’s not much difference. The average salary after completing CIMA is around the US $89,000 a year whereas if you complete your MBA from a top-notch university like Harvard, Stanford, your average salary would be around the US $100,000 a year.
- Comprehensiveness: MBA is much more comprehensive than CIMA. If you want complete your MBA you need to study at least 20-25 subjects on an average. But in case of CIMA, you need to study only 9 subjects in total. If you look at from other side, you get more time study per subject in CIMA than you can do in MBA.
- Focus: Recently, the top-notch institutes have understood the value of qualitative skill-building. Thus along with teaching students about quantitative aptitude, they also concentrate on leadership skills, communication, and interpersonal skills and presentation skills. MBA now thus prepares students for everything that they need in a business setting. Whereas CIMA focuses on accounting (fully) and business (partially). You need to do an extra course to gain the soft skills of the business.
- Residential: Top-notch MBA programs are mostly residential though there are options for Online and Part-time MBA. But if you want to get full out of MBA, you should choose a residential program. Whereas CIMA is not a residential program.
Why pursue CIMA?
- Pursuing CIMA doesn’t put you at risk of losing your money for a long time. MBA does. The fees are affordable, the course is comprehensive (without the fluff) and the subjects covered in the course are relevant. Why shouldn’t you pursue CIMA?
- After completing your CIMA, you would be able to earn a huge salary around the US $90,000 (in the USA, it could be lower in developing countries). Now compare the cost of study and benefit of the study. You won’t have any second opinion.
- You don’t need to study 20-30 subjects to get your certification. You can just study 3 at each level and you’re ready to go. Thus your depth of these subjects would be better than anyone who studies 20 subjects in two years. That’s one of the biggest reasons for which you should pursue CIMA.
Why pursue an MBA?
- Now you know that the fees for MBA are so much that you would take 10 years at least to pay off the debt. But still, an MBA is a residential program (in most cases). The connections you will make, the faculties you will get the guidance from and the group study you would be able to do is one of its kind. This is how the company is shaped and teamwork is done. Why not an MBA then?
- MBA is one of the most hyped courses ever, we agree. But why not? Global recognition, amazing placements, 5 figure salary, top-notch career, what not? Who will not want all these things and more?
- MBA is a course which doesn’t only teach one thing, but all the skills you need to learn to run a business. Why not do it then?
Also, You may find the following comparison beneficial –
- CIMA vs CFA?
- FRM vs MBA?
- CIMA or CPWA – Which is better?
- CIMA or CFP?
- CIMA or ACCA – What suits you more?
- CIMA or CMA – What’s better?
- CFA or MBA or Both?
- CFP or MBA or Both?
It would be very rare if one do MBA and CIMA afterward. If you have both these qualifications together, you are the best of all. If you have done CIMA, you may have thought about doing an MBA. But, once you do your MBA, you won’t consider doing CIMA. From the above details, choose your course. Choose the one that speaks to you and makes you think better. And if you want to do these two, better you choose CIMA and then you can pursue your MBA career.