Difference Between CMA and CIMA

The full form of CMA is Certified Management Accountant and students will only need to clear one level for obtaining this degree whereas the full form of CIMA is the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the students pursuing this course will need to clear three levels for obtaining the degree of this course.

CMA examCMA ExamCMA is a certificate course offered by the IMA. Here are a few exam tips: 1) Don't panic if you don't know the answer 2) Don't get distracted during the multiple-choice section. 3) Keep track of the time and increase your more and CIMA certification hold such lucrative opportunities for management professionals abroad that often it leaves many confused about what to pursue. We help you understand the differences because we understand how difficult it is to build a career as a management professional.  Just read on.


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Below is the flow of the article –

  1. Infographics
  2. What is CMA?
  3. What is CIMA?
  4. Educational Requirements
  5. Why pursue CMA?
  6. Why pursue CIMA?

What is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA)?

The CMA or Certified Management Accountant is a globally recognized certified program offered by the U.S based Institute of Management Accountants. This certificate is a great attribution for management professionals who are looking to advance their knowledge and skills in the financial management fields.

The course equips a professional with skills in the area of financial planning, analysis, control, decision support, and professional ethics. A CMA-certified professional can avail the opportunity of working in different sectors in a management capacity.

They can work in industries and organizations, which include manufacturing and services, public and private enterprises, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, government entities, and multinational corporations.

What is the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)?

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, a UK based body, offers this certified course to help management professionals to develop their knowledge and expertise in the area of management accountancy. The course provides training and qualification to allow accountants to attain mastery over the subjects related to this field.

It provides a good grounding and insight into how the different areas of accounting relate to the business world. This accounting qualification is most relevant to the current times and trends of the industry, helping individuals to unleash their talent and accelerate their careers in the business field.

The course is a knowledge refresher and a bridge to the CIMA Professional Qualification. CIMA-trained people work in the commerce industry, management consultancies, banks, and not for profit and public sector organizations.

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CMA vs. CIMA Infographics


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Educational Requirements

A candidate is required to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university to qualify for the exam. The CIMA course is open to everyone, as the course is a rigorous program in itself. A high school diploma is a minimum requisite required to become eligible for the exam. However, exemptions to the exams are provided on the basis of the qualification of each individual.
The CMA is a two-part exam, each exam consisting of 100 multiple choice questions and two 30-minute essay questions. The CIMA course comprises of 15 papers, and each paper is tested by a two-hour computer-based assessment.

CMA vs. CIMA – Comparative Table

Organizing BodyThe exams are managed and controlled by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), USA The exams are managed and controlled by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), UK.
PatternThe course consists of 2 parts


  • Part I – Financial Planning, Performance and Analytics
  • Part II – Strategic Financial Management
 The professional course is divided into 3 levels – Operational level, Management level, and Strategic level. Additionally, there is a basic qualification named Certificate in Business Accounting.
Duration of courseAlthough candidates are required to complete the course within 36 months, most of the candidates are able to complete it in 12 to 18 months. Each level takes around 1 year for completion and so candidates can complete the entire course in 3 to 4 years.
SyllabusThe course covers the following topics


  • Financial Reporting Decisions
  • Planning, Budgeting & Forecasting
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Corporate Finance
  • Cost Management
  • Performance Management
  • Internal Controls
  • Decision Analysis
  • Risk Management
  • Investment Decisions
  • Technology & Analytics
  • Professional Ethics
 The course covers the following topics


  • Management Accounting
  • Finance Management
  • Strategic Marketing Management
  • Business Accounting
  • Information Management





Exam FeesFor professional members, the cost is $1,080, which includes an entrance fee of $250 and the exam fees of $415 per part. For students, the cost is $810, which includes an entrance fee of $188 and the exam fees of $311 per part. The cost varies in the range of £2,500 to £3,000, which includes the exam fees and cost of the required study materials.




JobsSome of the common profiles include


  • Financial Risk Manager
  • Cost Accountant
  • Financial Consultant
  • Financial Analyst
  • Internal auditor
 Some of the common profiles include


  • Business Analyst
  • Forensic Analyst
  • Finance Controller
  • Management Accountant
  • Project Manager
DifficultyThe exams are moderately difficult as indicated from a historical pass rate of 50%. During January-February 2020, around 45% of the aspiring candidates passed both Parts I and Part II exams. The exams are moderately difficult. During May 2020, the pass rates for the 3 levels under professional qualification were:


  • Operational level – 57%
  • Management level – 67%
  • Strategic level – 69%
Exam DateThe schedule for the upcoming exams for the year 2021 (both Part I and Part II)


  • Jan 01 – Feb 28
  • May 01 – Jun 30
  • Sep 01 – Oct 31
 The schedule for the upcoming exams for the year 2021


  • Feb 10-26
  • May 14-28
  • Aug 11-27
  • Nov 10-26

Why Pursue CMA?

  • CMA enjoys a strong global presence and is much more recognized and accepted by employers across the nations.
  • It finds favor with students and professionals alike due to its fast-paced completion.
  • The CMA course is divided into two parts and most of the candidates complete the course in 12 to 18 months.
  • However, one needs to keep in mind that the minimum qualification requisite remains a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
  • CMA entitles an individual with an advantage in the job market as the course develops your decision-making capability allowing you to produce results in a critical situation for your company.
  • Also, the CMA certificate brings more visibility to a candidate’s resume and allows an employer to evaluate the professional’s ability to be suitable for higher positions in the company.
  • CMA is a course that specifically targets to improve your skillset and thus is a much more applicable educational experience.
  • The CMA course study is very relevant to modern-day situations, and it does not limit its scope for financial professionals. The very obvious reason is CMA designation holders are paid 30% more than there non-certified colleagues, and it is a must to do the course if you want to build your career in corporate accounting.

Why Pursue CIMA?

  • Traditionally it is a known fact that CIMA enjoys a better global presence than CMA due to its tie-up with Common Wealth countries. Thus employers understand the experience, knowledge, skills, and professional commitment that a CIMA will bring to the table.
  • Moreover, the course is designed to impart not only financial education to the candidates but also equip them with the skills in business management, capable of advising on business strategy and risk management.
  • CIMA definitely gives a boost to your earning potential while preparing you for roles in the business and finance sectors. Also, CIMA is not rigid in its idea of pre-requisites required to be eligible for the exam. Thus a wide range of professionals is open to give the exam, creating wider job opportunities.


There is neither an easy qualification nor a better one, which makes it easy and better is your dedication and determination to achieve it. Thus make your decision wisely, keeping your long terms in mind before choosing a program for yourself.

Recommended Articles

This has been a guide to CMA vs. CIMA. Here we discuss the key difference between CMA and CIMA along with infographics to help you choose the right management professional. You can learn more from the following articles –

Reader Interactions


  1. Oladipupo Bajulaiye says

    with cima qualification Bsc in Soil science am qualify to sit for CFA examination

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Yes ofcourse. My take is any graduation would do. However, please do check with the CFA Institute first on this. You may contact them here

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