As you may know, the CMA education requirements are just one set of requirements to become a Certified Management Accountant (CMA). The CMA requirements are fairly straightforward and easy to fulfill compared to other accounting certifications, though. But meeting them still involves time and effort. To ensure you satisfy each requirement effectively and promptly, you should learn about them as soon as possible in the CMA process. And you may want to start by focusing on the CMA education requirement, as it will help you take and pass the CMA exam, too. You may already have the education you need for this requirement, so learn more to check your CMA education requirement status.
The CMA education requirement is one of the seven requirements that stand between you and the CMA certification.
To some extent, you also must meet these requirements in this order. For example, you can’t enter the CMA program without an IMA membership, and you can’t take the CMA exam without paying the CMA entrance fee.
While you can pass the CMA exam before completing the entire education requirement, you do need to be enrolled in higher education courses to sit for the exam. For this reason, the education requirement is one of the first major CMA requirements candidates finish in the certification process.
What are the CMA education requirements exactly?
The CMA education requirement says you must have achieved at least 1 of 2 educational statuses:
As you can see, these are pretty basic expectations for your education. Both of these options are useful for life both before and after you earn the CMA, so the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA) isn’t asking anything extraordinary of CMA candidates.
Many CMA candidates have already met this requirement before starting their certification journey. However, in case you have not yet reached one of these two educational positions, or to ensure that you have, you can learn what the ICMA is looking for with these requirements.
The first educational option explains that you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
What is an accredited college or university according to the ICMA? Well, they’ve answered that question with a partial list of accredited U.S. and international institutions, which you can find on this website: http://univ.cc/world.php.
CMA candidates from the U.S. can find their university by clicking the link, then clicking the “United States” link, selecting your state, clicking “Search,” and looking for your university. If you attended an accredited U.S. university, you should be able to find it.
International CMA candidates can find their university by selecting their country, clicking “Search,” and scanning the list.
Once you find your college or university on that site, you know that the ICMA will accept your transcripts upon submission.
Please note that the IMA has changed the submission process to verify your bachelor’s degree.
In the past, candidates had to submit their college transcripts to the IMA via the mail. But at least temporarily, all transcriptions should be emailed to the IMA. Don’t fret, though, because the process is easy.
To get started, scan your transcripts and save them as a PDF. (Some institutions will even email you an official scanned PDF of your transcripts, saving you a step.) Then, email the PDF and your IMA membership number to the following:
Plus, if you have recently submitted your CMA education documents to the IMA via mail, you should re-submit them via email, too.
If you can’t find your college or university on the accredited listing but believe your educational institution is accredited, you can contact the IMA at email@example.com. When you do so, they will tell you how to proceed.
On the other hand, if you received your degree from a non-accredited institution, you must have your transcript evaluated. This is a common procedure, and you can find a list of qualified independent transcript evaluation agencies at www.aice-eval.org or http://www.naces.org/members.htm. You will still need to send an official transcript (in English) to the ICMA for their reference using the above email addresses.
What if your bachelor’s degree is from a 2- or 3-year program?
Good news: the ICMA does accept bachelor’s degrees from programs that last for a minimum of 3 years. Therefore, if you graduated from a 2-year program, you will need to check with the ICMA directly to see if there are any exemptions. I understand that 2-year programs are prevalent in some parts of the world, so I expect the ICMA has a plan for addressing degrees from these programs.
What if you haven’t yet finished your bachelor’s degree?
The IMA does allow students to sit for the CMA exam before they’ve completed their degree. If you’re a student, you must be registered for at least 6 credits per semester during the academic year to take the CMA exam. Then, you need to send confirmation of your degree to the ICMA within 7 years of passing the CMA exam.
If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, you can meet the education requirement by possessing certain professional certifications.
The IMA has a list of approved professional certifications. The ICMA explains that these certifications either do not require a bachelor’s degree or have alternate paths for meeting their education requirement.
The list includes the following certifications from the following countries:
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Thanks to the strategic partnership between the ACCA and the IMA, ACCA members can have the education requirement waived if they seek to earn the CMA. The mutual agreement between the IMA and ACCA automatically qualifies ACCA members for the CMA exam, so they don’t need to have other certifications or a bachelor’s degree. However, ACCA members do need to fulfill the other CMA requirements, such as the experience requirement.
In order to have the ICMA verify that your professional certification satisfies the education requirement, you must have the organization that approved your certification email the ICMA a letter (in English and in a PDF format) confirming that you are a qualified member. The organization needs to send the letter, and they need to send it directly to the email address below. And remember, the email should include your IMA membership number, too.
If you are serious about earning the CMA but don’t feel able to meet the CMA education requirements, you may write to the IMA for a possible exemption. This is possible because the IMA states that exemptions may be considered in the CMA Handbook.
When you write to them, you may want to explain why you have not earned or cannot earn a bachelor’s degree (e.g., it is not common in your home country) and how your experience, local certifications, or other credentials can be seen as equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.
If you want to try this method of meeting the CMA education requirement, you can email the IMA at IMA@imanet.org.
If you want to learn more about the CMA education requirements, you can check the CMA Candidate Handbook.
If you have any other questions, you can also email the IMA at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, you can call the IMA at 800-638-4427 and ask to speak to the exam certification assistant. They can help you get any information you need.
Finishing the CMA education requirement before you sit for the CMA exam can be very helpful for candidates, so I do recommend it. And again, you have to at least be taking college classes in order to qualify for the exam anyway.
But, you don’t need to fulfill the other big requirement, the CMA experience requirement, until after you’ve passed the CMA exam. And then, you have 7 years to submit proof of your experience to the ICMA.
However, only after you complete the experience requirement will the IMA grant you the CMA certification. And because the experience requirement involves 2 years of your life, you should learn what exactly it entails sooner rather than later.
I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites.