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CMA Education Requirements: Verifying Your Education for CMA Certification

cma education requirements

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.

Overview of CMA Requirements

The CMA education requirement is one of the seven requirements that stand between you and the CMA certification.

  1. Hold active membership with the IMA
  2. Pay the CMA entrance fee
  3. Fulfill the education qualification
  4. Pass both parts of the CMA exam
  5. Fulfill the experience qualification
  6. Comply with the IMA Statement of Ethical Professional Practice
  7. Complete the annual CPE requirements

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.

Specifics of the CMA Education Requirements

What are the CMA education requirements exactly?

The CMA education requirement says you must have achieved at least 1 of 2 educational statuses:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  2. Have another approved professional certification

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.

Meeting the CMA Education Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree

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.

Bachelor’s Degree Verification

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:

  • Candidates in China: cmarenzheng@imanet.org.cn
  • Candidates in all other countries: CMAEducationDocuments@imanet.org

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 ima@imanet.org. When you do so, they will tell you how to proceed.

Non-Accredited Bachelor’s Degrees

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.

2- and 3-Year Bachelor’s Degrees

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.

Incomplete Bachelor’s Degrees

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.

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Meeting the CMA Education Requirements: Professional Certification

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:

Approved Professional Certifications for CMA Education Exemptions

  • Australia
    • Chartered Accountant (CA), Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
    • Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA), Australian Society of Certified Practicing Accountants
  • Bangladesh
    • Associate (ACMA), Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh Fellow
    • (FCMA), Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh
  • Canada
    • Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
  • France
    • DCG, le diplôme de comptabilité et de gestion (Diploma of Accounting and Management)
  • Germany
    • Geprüfter Bilanzbuchhalter / Geprüfte Bilanzbuchhalterin
  • India
    • Associate or Fellow, Institute of Cost Accountants of India
    • Chartered Accountant (CA), Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Intermediate and Final Levels
    • Institute of Company Secretaries of India, Executive and Professional levels
  • Ireland
    • Chartered Accountant (CA), The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ireland
  • Japan
    • Certified Public Accountant (CPA), The Japanese Institute of Certified Public Accountants
    • Certified Public Tax Accountant, The Japan Federation of Certified Public Tax Accountants
    • Association Securities Analyst, Chartered Member of the Securities Analysts Association of Japan
  • Kenya
    • Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK)
  • Pakistan
    • Associate or Fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan
    • Associate or Fellow (ACMA or FCMA), Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan
  • People’s Republic of China
    • Certified Public Accountant (CPA), The Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants
    • Qualified Accountant (QA) or Senior Qualified Accountant (SQA), The National Accountant Assessment & Certification Center (Semi-Senior and Senior levels only)
  • Saudi Arabia
    • Fellowship, Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants
  • Scotland
    • Chartered Accountant (CA), The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
  • Sri Lanka
    • Associate or Fellow (ACMA or FCMA), CMA Sri Lanka
  • Switzerland
    • Diplomierte Expertin/ Experte in Rechnungslegung und Controlling
  • Taiwan
    • Certified Public Accountant (CPA), The Securities and Futures Bureau of Financial Supervisory Commission
  • United Kingdom
    • Associate or Fellow (ACCA or FCCA), Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
    • Chartered Accountant (CA), Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales
    • Chartered Member, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
    • Chartered Public Finance Accountant (CPFA), Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy
    • The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)
  • United States
    • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Institute of Internal Auditors
    • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), CFA Institute
    • Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
    • Certified Treasury Professional (CTP), Association of Financial Professionals

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ACCA Membership

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.

Professional Certification Verification

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.

  • Emails should be sent to: CMAEducationdocuments@imanet.org

Meeting the CMA Education Requirements: Appealing to the IMA

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.

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More Information about the CMA Education Requirements

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 ima@imanet.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.

Meeting the Additional CMA Certification Requirements

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.


About the Author Stephanie Ng

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.

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