CMA Exam Requirements: Two Straightforward Steps Towards Certification

CMA exam requirementsOne of the benefits of pursuing the CMA certification is that the CMA exam requirements are very straightforward — as long as you hold a bachelor degree you are qualified to sit for the exam. Let’s look into the details below.

Is There A Prerequisite?

There are two level of exam requirements you need to fulfill in order to become a Certified Management Accountant:

  • Educational requirements
  • Experience requirements

CMA Exam Requirements #1: Educational Experience

For educational requirements, as long as you have a Bachelor degree in a “decent” university in your country, you are qualified.

In other words, it can be 3-year or 4-year bachelor degree. By “decent”, you can check whether your school is listed  list.

If not, don’t worry as you can still get qualified with an extra step to get your transcript evaluated. You can choose any agencies that is a member of NACES or AICE. Then, ask them to send an evaluation to IMA. You will also have to send an official transcript (in English) to IMA for their reference.

Students may sit for the exam before they complete their degree, provided they’re registered for at least 6 credits per semester during the academic year.

CMA Exam Requirements #2: Working Experience

Each candidate will have to complete two continuous years of management accountant or financial management. The experience has to be verified but not necessarily by CMAs.

The nature of work can include the following:

  • Financial analysis
  • Budget preparation
  • Management information systems analysis
  • Financial management
  • Management accounting
  • Auditing in Government, Corporation and Public Accounting
  • Management consulting
  • Research, teaching and consulting in related field


  • This requirement may be completed prior to or within seven years after completing the examination. There is no such limitation on experience gained before the exam. Teaching experience can be counted as well.
  • For part-timers (minimum 20 hours per week), each 2 years of part-time experience can be used to substitute for 1 year of full-time experience.
  • Internships, trainee programs as well as non-technical positions in sales & marketing, IT, HR and administration will not be considered as relevant.

Need More Information?

For more information on the CMA exam as well as tips on study tactics, consider signing up to my e-course which is completely free. You can learn about the mini e-course here or sign up directly below:


  1. Kyle Schaffner says

    Do you have to have 2 years of professional work experience in accounting before even signing up for the CMA or just before you sit for the test. Could you register and start the course work and studying before two years of accounting work experience?

    • Stephanie says

      Yes certainly you can do that. You only need to get the experience within 7 years of passing of the CMA exam. I think IMA is trying to be very flexible on this for candidates who weren’t accounting majors but would like to get into accounting.

  2. Riz says

    Hello Stephanie,
    I have completed my B. Com (3 yr degree) from an accredited university in India. I plan to write my exam in India, work here for a couple of years and then move to US, Canada or Australia. I would like to know if my CMA certification would be acceptable in those countries or will I have to write the CMA certification exam again as per those country’s requirements????

    • Stephanie says

      Hi Riz, I have to say Canada has its own version of CMA (CMA canada) so if you are sure you want to go to Canada, it is better to get the other one.

      But if you aren’t sure which country you may work some day, the US CMA is more recognized around the world and it would be a useful investment when you have the time to get it done. Cheers, Stephanie

  3. Stephanie says

    Hi Riz, I have to say Canada has its own version of CMA (CMA canada) so if you are sure you want to go to Canada, it is better to get the other one.

    But if you aren’t sure which country you may work some day, the US CMA is more recognized around the world and it would be a useful investment when you have the time to get it done. Cheers, Stephanie

  4. Nadia Mirza says

    I have Masters degree in economics. I have 18 years of expereience working as accounting and finance managers with various organizations. Do I need a degree in accounting to pass CMA exam? Or do I need to complete some accounting courses from a college before appearing to CMA exam.

    • Stephanie says

      Sure it can be counted. I don’t know the statistics but non-US candidates represent a substantial percentage of the CMA population.

  5. m says

    hye, i have more then 10 years work experience in financial and non financial roles. i have pass grade 10 school and enroll in acca and pass my six acca papers. is em eligible to apply cma? and my previous work experience will count towards my membership? as an student what will cost me. regards

    • Stephanie says

      Hi m, if you are a ACCA full member then you can get your exemptions on the CMA education requirements. Your work experience should work to fulflil the experience part of the requirement as long as you got it within 7 years of passing the CMA exam. You might be able to get discounts as a student if you are eligible to the following:

      To qualify for Student membership, individuals must be enrolled in at least six (6) undergraduate or graduate credit hours, or the equivalent, per semester. Student membership can be held for a maximum of six (6) years. Student members who move to another membership category cannot revert back to Student membership.

      Please check the official website for the current rate:

  6. m says

    for registration i need institute or as an private candidate i can apply registration?
    for online registration which documents required to send IMA?
    for full time student registration fee is 39$ plus 75$ is it?
    if i apply registration today than may i eligible to attempt exam in june 2013 ?

    • Stephanie says

      Hi M,
      You can apply as an individual – that’s what I did and I am sure it works. Once you register online, you will need to ask your school to send in the official transcript. I understand that some schools may not want to do it and if so, you can send an email to IMA and see what they suggest. From my experience they are helpful and give prompt answers.

      On the fees, yes but please include the exam fee ($300-350 for each section) in your budget. Also, once you are no longer considered a student, the student fee doesn’t apply and you should expect to pay the regular fee.

      And on your last question, if you apply in April/May you can sit for the exam in the May/June window, or other windows within 12-month period.

      Hope it helps! Stephanie

    • Stephanie says

      Hi Raisa, for CMA review courses you can get more information on this page:
      These are self-study courses and you can take it at the comfort of your home.

      There are live courses available in major cities around the world, but since the quality of lecturers vary greatly (especially those outside of the US), I usually recommend candidates to get these self-study courses instead. Stephanie

  7. Sana Khan says

    Hi Stephanie,
    I am a recent college graduate (BBA in Accounting and Finance) from India. I am currently in Qatar looking for a decent job. I have no work experience but can I still sit for the CMA exams and complete my 2 years work ex. while passing the exam?
    Also is there a different version of the CMA for the middle east. Do you suggest I do the US – CMA and if so How do i go about doing that.

    • says

      Hi Sana,
      Yes, you can definitely sit for the CMA exam before you get any working experience, but you are supposed to finish the whole program within 3 years, so be mindful of this.

      There is only one version of CMA from IMA and you can take it in all major cities around the world. There are other CMAs e.g. the one from Canada, but it’s from a different organization. The most international version should be this one, i.e. the one from US / IMA. It is especially well recognized in the Middle East. Cheers, Stephanie

  8. Raza Mohammed says

    I have done Bachelor’s of Commerce ( 2 years ) and 2 years of working experience in a multinational company in Finance Dept. Am I eligible for the CMA ??

    • says

      Sure m, it took me half an hour to get registered… but then it does time a few days for the transcript to arrive to their office to complete the exam registration process. Stephanie

  9. Federico says

    Hello Stephanie.
    I think that the “You can gain your experience up to 7 years prior to taking the exam” statement is wrong. Actually there is no time limit for prior experience, and the 7 year limit counts AFTER taking the exam.
    Please check it out (my experience is 11 years ago, so this is an important issue).
    Thank you!

  10. Shailaja Pramod says

    Dear Ms.Stephanie

    I have done B.Com MBA in Finance and having 4 yrs of Banking experience.

    Am I eligible to take up the CMA Exam. If so how long i will have to invest my time in studying and getting prepared for the exam?

    Please help in this regard. Now I have a 5 yr old kid so i have taken break in my career so i’m planning to take up CMA exam.

    Thanks in Advance.

    • says

      Hi Shailaja, yes, definitely can qualify if you have BCOM + MBA. For banking, it depends on the job nature but if it involves financial management it should be fine.
      On the time, it is suggested by IMA that candidates need 100-150 hours for each. I think I needed less than that but it all depends on the background of candidates.
      It’s a good idea to “restart” your career with a certification! Best of luck to your exam! Stephanie

  11. Tim says

    How does one gain experience when no one will give me an opportunity. I have not taken the CMA exam. I would like to pass it in the near future. However, I graduated five years ago with a B.S. in accounting and I still haven’t found any work in my field of study. I have been working in a manufacturing environment all this time.. I continue to search and apply for accounting positions with the same luck. I don’t have any experience other than an internship. Do you have any suggestions? I am thinking that by passing the exam that I will become more appealing to potential employers. Thanks in advance for the help!

    • says

      Hi Tim, yes it helps, but maybe what is needed is a resume that can fully highlight your skill set. I am in the process of writing a bunch of posts on resume and interviews on accountants. Hope it will help. Stephanie

  12. Sufeyan says

    Can anyone help me?

    I have passed my CA Intermediate examinations from Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan. I also worked as finance manager in local organisation for 5 years. I do not have any bachelors degree. Am i eligible for CMA?

    • says

      Hi Sufeyan, I think they do need a bachelor’s degree, but you may want to double check with IMA and see if it is possible to consider your CA as equivalent to a bachelor’s. A quick email will do. Good luck! Stephanie

  13. JC says

    Hi Stefanie,

    Just wondering, does my work experience in public accounting (both attest and tax) count for the two-year experience requirement? I saw the words “public accounting” in your list of acceptable experience, but is it still acceptable if it is the only experience that one has?

    Thank you,


    • says

      Hi JC, I am quite sure it is ok, but if you want to confirm (which I encourage you to do), contact IMA and they will tell you the exact answer. They have been doing that for my other readers. Good luck! Stephanie

  14. Pankaj Kumar Patel says

    Hi…Stephanie ji
    i am final year student of chartered accountant of india . my question is that can i join cma course & can i pass this exams within 9 months after join. i am intersted to make carrier in the field of finance. i have completed 3 years degree course from recognised university of india with only 50 % marks.

  15. Allan says

    I have a B’com degree from a listed university in India. I also am presently working as an Assistant Accounting Manager and has a work experience of 15 years in similar field. I want to pursue US CMA. Firstly, please let me know whether I can enroll for CMA. If so, are there any coaching institutes in Bahrain(where Iam presently working) for CMA?. What are the fees for CMA? What are the enrollment requirements and process?

  16. Vanessa says

    Good day, Stephanie!!
    I am recent graduate of BSBA- Major in Management Accounting. Do I need to have 2 meaningful years before taking up the CMA Exam? Thank you.

    • says

      Hi Vanessa, by meaningful years do you mean working experience? You can take the exam first and fulfill the working requirements later. If I misunderstand your questions just let me know. Cheers, Stephanie

  17. C says

    Hi Stephanie,

    I am a B.Com graduate from India staying in the US. I want to pursue CMA course. I have an year’s work experience. I worked in an Audit Firm before moving to the USA. I have a couple of doubts for which I need clarification.

    1) Does doing CMA help me in satisfying the 150 Credit Hour Rule for CPA?
    2) Will my work experience be taken into account for the Professional work experience requirement in CMA???
    3) Would you suggest self studying or are there any online coaching classes for CMA????

    Thanks in Advance.


    • says

      Hi C, on your questions,
      (1) I am afraid CMA cannot be used to waive any CPA educational or licensing requirements.
      (2) Sounds like it is fine, but you can double check with IMA with an email before you apply.
      (3) Sure, most of my readers do that, and I believe it is more common to self-study at least in the US. Here are the pros and cons of major CMA review providers:

  18. Ganesh says

    I have done my from an accredited university in India. I would like to take up my CMA exams in Dubai, can I take up the exams with the tourist visa or should i take up a resident visa or work permit? Please help me out with this.

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