Differences Between NCFM and CPA

There is a significant difference between NCFM vs CPA Certifications. And you need to pick one, according to your career aspirations. Don’t worry we are here to help. NCFM emphasizes the stock market whereas CPA is all about handing accounting for public enterprises. Both courses are from the finance domain and but they’re significantly different in scope, job opportunities, areas of work and curriculum. Let’s look at a few guidelines on the basis of which you should pick one of the courses.

  • Think about your career aspirations. Not everyone wants to be a public accountant or stockbroker. And if you think money is the distinguisher between these two, forget money for some time. If you’re good at your subject matter, you will earn a lot of money without any hassle. The problem is not money; rather concentrate on the curriculum. We will describe in detail everything that you need to know to make a decision. But make sure you know where you want to go.
  • Think long term, not short term. The usual trend is to choose something which is chosen by your friends and colleagues. But don’t do it just because your friends are doing; do it because you want to grow bigger in 5-10 years down the line. Long term perspective is important as that will help you make better decisions.
  • Finally, make sure that you have the persistence to stick to the course until its last. If you leave in between then money, time spent and investment in your career will all be wasted.

To make sure that you get to make the best decision, we have put together this article in a proper sequence which will enable you to know about these courses in detail and will also help you see the key differences and exam requirements for each of the courses.


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What is NCFM?

NCFM is one of the best online testing and certification programs that help students get into the financial market. If you would like to go into financial analysis, you should opt for other courses (like CFA/MBA) in the financial domain. But if you want to be an expert in the capital and financial markets, then NCFM is the right course for you.

  • The best part of NCFM is its flexibility. You can give an exam online and at the same time, you can give an exam on the internet as well. It allows the students to give the exam beyond the scope of test centers. By allowing this flexibility students can also choose to give an exam at their convenience. Thus they can set convenient times, dates, and places to sit for the exams.
  • NCFM is not for the faint-hearted. Even if they have so much flexibility to sit for the exams, the exams are usually very tough and to get the certification students have to clear many modules.

What is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)?

Once you have passed out of CPA you will be able to advise people from all domains of business. You will be able to analyze and understand the need for public enterprises and will be able to offer customizable solutions to the organizations. Students who aspire to be the best accountant for public enterprises should pursue CPA.

  • As per the statistic is given by AICPA, it is seen that students who are certified under CPA earn at least 15% more than the students who are non-CPA. 15% is not a small amount. Because once you join an organization, usually you get a promotion of 15% at the end of the year. But if you do CPA, you get that additional 15% right away.
  • Once you complete your CPA you would be able to charge for your services as an authority in accounting. But the main emphasis of CPA is public enterprises and public accounting. Even if you would be thorough with accounting for other enterprises, your forte would be public accounting. So before enrolling in the CPA program, think through and then decide.
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NCFM vs CPA Infographics

Reading time: 90 seconds

Let’s understand the difference between NCFM vs CPA.


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NCFM vs CPA – ComparativeTable

Organizing BodyThe exams are managed and controlled by the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. (NSE), India.The exams are managed and controlled by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), USA.
PatternThe course consists of 3 modules

  • Foundation module
  • Intermediate module
  • Advanced module



The course consists of 4 parts

  • Financial Accounting & Reporting
  • Business Environment & Concepts
  • Audit & Attestation
  • Regulation
Duration of CourseSince there isn’t any time limit, candidates can complete the modules at their own convenience. The candidates usually take a few weeks to one month to complete each module.The candidates usually complete all four assessment exams in a span of 1.5 years.
SyllabusSome of the main topics that are covered during the course are

  • Mutual Funds & Debt Market
  • Investment Analysis & Portfolio Management
  • Derivative Instruments
  • Banking. Insurance & Capital Markets
  • Options Trading and Commodities Market
  • Operations and Market Risk
  • Fundamental & Technical Analysis
  • Project Finance and Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Wealth Management
  • Venture Capital & Private Equity
  • Depository Operations
Some of the main topics that are covered during the course are

  • Financial Statement Accounts
  • Entity Federal Taxation
  • Corporate Governance
  • Professional Responsibilities
  • Ethics & General Principles
  • Individual Federal Taxation
  • Economic Concepts & Analysis








Exam FeesMost sub-modules cost around $30 with a few courses that go up to $100. The cost of the course includes exam fees as well as the applicable taxes. Overall, candidates need to spend around $1,500 to complete all 48 sub-modules.The cost of the course includes application fees, registration fees, exam fees, and license fees. The application fees vary across the US states. Overall, the cost of the course comes around $1,500.


JobsSome of the common profiles include

  • Relationship Manager
  • Stock Broker
  • Analyst
  • Risk Manager
  • Financial Market Consultant
Some of the common profiles include.

  • Financial Advisor
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Public Accountant
  • Financial Analyst
  • Internal Auditor


DifficultyThe candidates need to score 50%-60% in each sub-module and candidate feedback suggests that the difficulty level is reasonable. However, no information about the historical pass rate is available in the public domain.The difficulty level of the exams is moderate as indicated by a historical pass rate of ~50%. During 2020, the pass rates for all assessments remained in the range of 55% to 65%.



Exam DateThe aspiring candidates can take the exams online on all working days.The candidates can take the exams throughout the year as the CPA exams shifted to the Continuous Testing model.

Key Differences

  • Entry barrier: NCFM has no entry barrier. It is one of the toughest exams to clear as it goes in-depth and students need to learn and study a lot to clear all the modules, but still, this course can be done by anyone who has a keen interest in the capital and financial market. But if you want to sit for CPA and get certified, you need to complete 150 hours of credit hours. And even if you clear the exam of CPA you will not get the license. You need to handle the licensing procedure separately.
  • Exam: To pass NCFM, all you need to do is to prepare for one module and give the exam. Each exam is of different duration and the numbers of questions are also varied. But the exam procedure is much more flexible than the CPA. CPA has four parts exam schedule and it’s being seen that sitting for an exam is not always convenient for students.
  • Approach: The main focus of NCFM is to cover and educate students about the capital and financial market. From a novice to an expert trader, anyone can do this course and learn the basics as well as the advanced levels module. Thus it has more relevance with the way the financial marketThe Way The Financial MarketThe term "financial market" refers to the marketplace where activities such as the creation and trading of various financial assets such as bonds, stocks, commodities, currencies, and derivatives take place. It provides a platform for sellers and buyers to interact and trade at a price determined by market more works and it’s not just theoretical questions. Whereas CPA is more comprehensive in its approach. It teaches public accounting along with business skills. But it lacks a practical approach like NCFM.
  • International Repute: NCFM is a course that is recognized nationally. The modules and the curriculums of NCFM have more relevance with the Indian financial market and thus it has only national repute. Whereas NCFM is a global certification. Even if a CPA is more prevalent in the USA, it has a base of students from all over the world including India.
  • Flexibility: NCFM is one of the best courses in terms of flexibility. If you want to complete an NCFM curriculum, you need to study on your own, give an exam on your own and you can choose the time, date and place of the exam. Can you imagine any other course which offers this sort of flexibility? NCFM not only offers online testing opportunities, but it also helps students to avail of the exam via the internet and at their own convenience. Whereas the CPA is not as flexible as NCFM.
  • Length of the course: NCFM is a huge course. You need to complete a lot of modules to get the certification. But in the case of CPA, you need to clear 4 subjects and it has only one level.

Why pursue NCFM?

Why pursue CPA?

  • Once you have done your CPA, you would have expertise in accounting, auditing, and taxation and you would be considered as an authority in these fields.
  • Once you complete CPA, you will receive a license that will help you practice accounting and charge for your service. You can also join a public enterprise. The report says that 20% of accountants join public enterprises. Doing a CPA will help you bridge the gap.
  • Passing CPA is much easier than any other course in the finance domain. Look at the pass percentages. It’s higher than any other course in the financial domain


We began the discussion with what to pick and what not to? But now after the articulation of details, you can get it that you can do CPA along with NCFM certification. Both courses will not be mutually exclusive;Mutually Exclusive;Mutually exclusive refers to those statistical events which cannot take place at the same time. Thus, these events are entirely independent of one another, i.e., one event's outcome has no impact on the other event's more rather NCFM & CPA, both certifications will help you become a better professional.

This has been a guide to NCFM vs CPA. Here we discuss the difference between NCFM and CPA along with infographics and comparative table. You can learn more from the following articles –

Reader Interactions


  1. Kriti says

    Best comparison that I have found so far, thanks for posting this blog. Would like to tell me whether there is any eligibility criterion to enroll for NCFM certification module Exam?

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks for the note. There are no special criteria to enroll for these NCFM modules, but you need to keep fluency in English and basic computer literacy, apart from this, there is no need of knowledge and experience in financial sector to sit for NCFM Certification exam.

  2. Saya T says

    Thanks for this article. Good and relevant content. I have a question. Are there any similarities between NCFM and CFA?

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks for the note. Yes there are significant differences between NCFM and CFA certifications – do have a look at this article NCFM vs CFA