CMA IMA vs ICWAI: Which Certification is Better?

There have been interesting debate on the merits of CMA granted by IMA (US) versus the one by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI, or better known by its former name, ICWAI) of India. Here is my attempt to compare the two. Your thoughts and comments are most welcome.

Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICWAI)


ICWAI recently changed their name to Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI). This is an institute formed by an Act enacted by Indian Parliament. The members are allowed to practice and to conduct cost audit, excise audit and VAT audit. Their members are active in both industry and public accounting.

Coverage of Knowledge Base

From what I gather from my Indian readers, ICWAI offers a rigorous program — in addition to covering the core strategy, management and accounting, it also focuses on regulatory. This makes sense because in India, accountants need to be knowledgeable on these matters given the many regulations that affect businesses.

Exam Structure and Years Required to Earn the Title

The minimum theoretical time taken for the ICWAI and CA (including article ship) courses are 2 years and 4 years, respectively, assuming the candidate can pass in the first attempt.

ICWAI candidates get only two chances to sit for the exam during the year and this inflexibility makes it a much longer process. On average ICWAI / CA students take 5-7 years to pass their exams.

Passing Rates

The passing rate is not disclosed but it is believed to be quite low.

Global Recognition

It is understandable that, at the current stage at least, ICWAI is not much recognized outside of India. One of the reasons is that non-Indians neither have a convenient way nor incentive to go through the necessary steps to become an ICWAI member.

Institute of Management Accountant (IMA)

Coverage of Knowledge Base

The coverage of IMA is arguably less comprehensive — it focuses on cost accounting and financial management but not regulation, audit or taxation. One important reasons is that the CMA title is more strictly designed for management accountants, and for general accountants they go for the CPA.

Because of this, as well as the fact that the process is very exam-oriented, getting the US version is usually the quickest way for candidates anywhere in the world to get a “CMA title”.

Exam Structure and Years Required to Earn the Title

There are two parts in the CMA exam — each part covers a considerable amount of materials, but the benefit is that you can complete the process much faster. It is quite normal that candidates can complete the exam within a year.

Also, the exam is computerized and therefore can be available any weekday within the testing window, which open 6 months out of the 12 months in a year. The flexibility allows you to get fully prepared before attempting the exam, and can choose to take the exam at a time when you are not as busy.

Passing Rates

The passing rate is low — 33% in Part 1 and 48% in Part 2, but given the low barrier of entry I expect that many candidates do not have solid accounting knowledge and this tends to pull down the overall rate.

If you have a background in accounting or you are determined to study using effective review materials, you have a much higher chance of success.

Global Recognition

CMA (US) enjoys a good brand-name recognition both within and outside of the US, especially in the Middle East and china. The title is particularly useful if you aspire to work in these places in the future.

Check out this Video on CMA exam for Indian Candidates


I have a few readers who are ardent fans of ICWAI because of the intellectual challenges and rigorous program. However, if you are like most people who simply want the CMA title for the sake of credentials and global recognition, you could have an option between the CMA and ICWAI.

For Your Further Reading

I also have a free mini-course to kick-start your CMA journey. You may sign up directly below:

Join us if you want to get tips on how to plan,
study and pass your CMA exam… on your first attempt!

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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  • haris says:

    hi stephanie, its good to see you compare both these credentials. i am from india and so i know what u say about ICWA and CA are correct. it will really help those who are looking for these credentials.
    thank you.

    • Ali Syed says:

      I completed CMA in the last year and secured package of 2.75 Lakhs INR from Genpact. I also got offer from Wells Fargo at 2.9 LPA. My friend did ICWA and got 5 lakhs package INR. Hard work always pays. IMA CMA is an easy course which even a BCom 1st year guy can complete with minimal efforts where as ICWA’s toughness is comparable to CFA. My humble suggestion, go for CPA

      • Ashok Goud says:

        i want to join CMA the next month but after seeing your message i am rethink whether to join or not cpa is very costly and you say that cma is getting no jobs in market. what I should do now!! I paid half fees i should ask refund the full fee now!! is sap fico course better than cma? i plan other courses now.

        • Ali says:

          Take complete refund and if finances are constraint in your case, then go for ACCA. If you still want to stick to management accounting, go for CIMA instead which is a little expense. CMA is not a bad course either but it is just recognized here in India as much as it is say in USA, Europe or Middle east. Maybe in the coming years, I expect the things to change. SAP FICO certification is very specific to SAP jobs and can never replace an academic course.

          • Ali says:

            Sorry for typos, my mobile’s autocorrect sucks. I mean CMA is less recognized and not just recognized. And CIMA is a little expensive and not expense.

      • Pahlaj says:

        I want to clarify two things here. 2.75 is definitely not the package given for CMA candidates, you were looking for jobs in companies which knew nothing about CMA designation. Secondly, CMA is not less recognized in any of the ways. I know a lot of people who took up this course after completing the Indian CA course. It is better that you develop skill sets like excel, macros etc. No course will straightly place you into a job that you want. It will take a little time.

        • Hi Ali and Pahlaj, thanks both for your sharing. It’s great to get different views 🙂

        • naman says:

          hi pahlaj please share the name of the company which give 5 laks package for cma. i did my cma long back, i am good with excel and macros. i got a very useless job in small company. i feel like wasting money.i am think of giving up qualification as it has become costly for working professionals. 16300 we will have to pay for membership and extra cots for cpe.

  • Azharuddin Abubaker says:


    My name is Azharuddin currently employed in Bahrain as a Senior Accountant, i wish to know about CMA- USA course & fee stucture…

    It would be kind of you if you could explain me about it..

    Thanks & Regards

  • aspirant says:


    I am MBA in marketing with 4 years of work experience as an EA to VP -India. I am not finding this role very fulfilling.
    Will CMA help me in moving to a role of financial analyst outside india.
    Please suggest.

    • Hi Aspirant, it is possible, but I have to say having a certification alone cannot guarantee any jobs. If you are looking for analytical roles in cost/inventory accounting in any companies, strategic planning in big companies, or any accounting/finance role in companies with strong manufacturing capabilities, CMA is the most value add. Service companies e.g. a bank don’t tend to appreciate CMA certification as much. This is my opinion and some people might disagree, but hopefully this gives you a direction. Regards, Stephanie

    • Ali Syed says:

      If you just want to add a credential to flaunt it on your LinkedIn profile or resume, do CMA. If you want a course that truly gives you a quantum leap in your career/salary- go for CPA/CFA. The investment in CMA both financially and non financially is not worth. If finances are a constraint for you, go for ACCA even if it takes time. There is not much value for CMA IMA in India, I am trying by all the means in Big4s and MNCs from the past 6 months, having tough time. I am now saving every penny for my CPA exam. I am writing this out of utter disappointment, exhaustion and regret.

  • Shahab says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    I m B. Tech with 5 years experience.
    Would this course enhance or open nice future opprtunities for me.
    Should engineers go for this course.

    Pl. guide!

    • Hi Shahab,
      Thanks for your note. I would say that unless you are looking into either switching to management accounting, or that you see there is an opportunity with an accounting angle within your engineering experience, don’t do it. Apart from the discussion on relevancy, you must have two years of experience in accounting or finance to get the certification. Engineering experience cannot be counted.

      Having said that, there a lot of emerging opportunities that is cross-discipline, e.g. project management in engineering that requires accounting and financial analysis skills. If you know of anything like this, I would love to learn more about that.

  • nik says:

    hi, i m from india an icwa inter. Student. Feel gud after reading u r article, i wish to do cma us also, but i have a small dout is that if a complte the cma us program, then can i get some exemption from icwai/icai or i get directly membership from icwai/icai, if so then can i do pracaticing in india also…plz help..

  • luckson says:

    hi sir, my name is luckson ,i ‘m pursuing and i want to do cma bt,reali confuse to take registered to us cma or india cma.and the advantages? and, what are the step to become a cma person please do tell me full details from from begin.and how many exam should do i need to clear also how to pass the exam

    but,sir reali afraid that after spending of money if i fail can i try how many exam in a year?

    please help me out.thanking you and i ll pray for u sir,

  • R.Kumar says:


    I did,PGDCA ,PGDM- with dual specialization of Finance and marketing , working as Sr. Manager – Finance and accounts in manufacturing company with 5+ year experience. Fully core accounting Job.

    Please suggest why i would select CMA-US , How it will help me?

    Is any other course is available for future growth. Your valuable revert is awaited.


  • nina says:

    Im a final year student . I wish to join for icwa or cma. I would like to know which qualification have higher salary scale ?

    • Ali says:

      Go for Indian CMA or US CPA. Nobody in India wants US CMA. The starting salary for US CMA is 3 LPA where as ICWA is 5 LPA.

  • Kartik K says:

    Hello Stephanie,

    I’m Kartik Kamdar (from India) having 7.5 years of experience in Lean Six Sigma stream (in India) whereby I’ve worked in Market Research, Logistics, Technical Helpdesk, and IT-Telecom domains. And, now I would like to switch over to financial domain (in the same Lean Six Sigma stream). Will CMA help me? My bachelor degree is in IT and post graduate in MBA (Marketing Management). Lean Six Sigma stream focuses on cost reduction and accuracy of the products/services. So, in this context, I thought of doing CMA. Kindly advise.

    Kartik Kamdar

    • Hi Kartik, it sounds very relevant (and interesting!). On a practical side though, you can check if your company or your potential boss over at the finance department knows about the CMA in the US. It’s great that you want to take the exam for personal development, but an important reason for most people is for career advancement. I obviously want you to go for the CMA, but given the time commitment, it has to be whole-heartedly without regrets 🙂 Stephanie

  • Savan says:

    Dear Sir/Mam,

    I completed my and I wish to go for CMA but still have confusion for that I should go for CMA India or CMA USA? And one more thing i wants to know is that which way I can get a membership of CMA USA if I am already member of CMA India ( ICWAI)??

    I am waiting for your reply.


    • Hi Savan, I understand that for CMA US to get ICWAI membership, you have to go through the CMA program outside of India. For the other way round, there isn’t a clear way how to (or not to) do it. It’s best to check directly with ICWAI.

      If you stay in India and have no intention to live/work abroad or work in big US companies operating in India, then the clear choice is ICWAI. The flip side is that, according to my readers, going through ICWAI is a lot more time consuming and difficult… Hope it helps! Stephanie

    • bishal says:

      u get benifit from both way..if u complet cma from icai then by default u can become member of cma us by paying its membership fees and that gives u chance to work outside india. both cma india nd usa has good knowledge but indian cma also focus on cost audit nd cost taxation which cma usa dont. u can also do cma usa from outside india and apply for exemption in papers of india cma and become icai cma member

  • TEENA says:


    I am a final year student. I wish to go for CMA. I’m really confused in between ICWAI and US CMA. I am an Indian citizen. If i go for US CMA, is there no chance for getting a job within India, even in MNC’s??

    Plz reply

  • nida says:

    I have graduated recently and i plan to work in india itself. Which course should i pursue- CMA (US) or CWA (india) ?

  • thabeetha says:

    hi sir,
    i have graduated my bbm degree and am thinking to do icwa but am really confused whether to take cma or icwa.. i would like to work abroad if i get a chance . my confusion is if i take cma then i only can work abroad or can i work in india also?or if i take icwa then can i work abroad or only in india it is valid…plz give me a reply…am waiting for your reply to take a decision.

  • amal says:

    Sir I am an Indian Cs(company secretary final student).is it any scope for career advancement for me if I choose CMA USA with my Cs .

    • Hi Amal,
      As long as you like a long-term career in management accounting (or accounting in general), strategic planning and / or financial management, then yes, it will help. However, you need to be able to start gaining these experiences first as you won’t be able to get the CMA certification without it. Hope it helps! Regards, Stephanie

  • Smita says:

    I hv completed BBA & a simple accounting course. I dont hv concrete knowledge abt accounting like a BCom. student but now i want to get into this field & hv a CMA certification & more further. What do u suggest should i go for it ? Plz help. I am from India n i think i will go with ICWAI.

  • namitha says:

    I am in final now I dono what to icwa or cma can you just suggest me.


  • Raghav Gupta says:

    I’m a Chartered accountant (From The Institute of Chartered Accountants Of India) in India. Would CIMA / CMA be beneficial for me ?? or should i go for CFA?

  • prasanth says:

    I have completed my degree and I am planning to do CMA. SHOULD I GO FOR CMA INDIA OR CMA US ?

    • Hi Prasanth,
      Since this is pretty much a self-study program, you can take the exam anywhere and shouldn’t matter much unless you are aiming to take advantage of the MRA between IMA and ICWAI. In general, if you are living in India, it makes sense to study and take the exam there. Regards, Stephanie

  • nikhil says:

    hi……..i m from india, can u plz tell me…….can cma us certification help me for a better carrier in india……..thanks in advance

  • Govind Agarwal says:

    Hello dear… Myself Govind Agarwal, I pursuing CMA ( India) after certified CMA ( India) can I recognize CMA (us) member, is it possible??? And what benefit we get???

  • Payal says:


    I am a accounting honors graduate with second division from a university in India which I don’t think is accredited. Also I am persuing my company Secretary course and also working in a company in UAE as a finance executive since last one and a half year.

    Am I eligible for the CMA US course ? And how can I start from UAE if I am eligible ?

    • Hi Payal,
      Please take a look at this page and if your school isn’t on the list, then you can get an evaluation report. I suggest that you double check with IMA with the specifics (as I didn’t personally go through the evaluation for CMA myself).

      Once this is done, you should be eligible for the exam. Good luck! Stephanie

  • Ritz says:

    Hey Stephanie myself Ritz.I am in class 12 of the commerce stream from India and am thinking to go for CMA after doing my

    I want a job in US.
    Would CMA be enough to reach there?

    Is there any combination with CMA that would outshine the other CMA’s while getting a job..
    For example Mba + CMA for instead…

    Thank you in advance.. 🙂

    • Hi Ritz,
      Thanks for your note. While it can be useful, I have to say CMA (or any other qualifications) can’t gurantee a job in the US. I have this article with my thoughts and opinion on this topic:


      • Ritz says:

        Sorry I didn’t got my answer… What could be other qualifications that
        would help me to get a job in US.

        And are there any combination with CMA that would outshine the other CMA’s while getting a job..
        For example Mba + CMA for instead…

        Please tell me

        • Hi Ritz, sorry to be very blunt but there is no professional certification that will get you a job in the US. All the certifications such as CPA, CMA, CIA etc helps, but nothing would guarantee a job.

          The best way, in my opinion, is to work in a multinational company, does an excellent job, then request an internal transfer to the US office. Best wishes, Stephanie

  • Anurag Kumar Singh says:



    This is Anurag from Bangalore India,an aspiring CMA USA student ,i have 4.6 years of work experience with IBM,in Finance and Accounting domain,currently i have quit my job and looking to write both the papers in month of Jan and Feb-2016,have couple of queries:

    1)Wanted your thoughts if it would be advisable to take break and prepare for both exam parts for 6 months and or look for a new job and simultaneously prepare for Cma Exam

    2)can we write for the part exam in Same examination Window for Example both Exam Part 1 And 2 in January or one of the part in jan and Next part in Feb

    • Hi Anurag,
      1) Typically it is not necessary to study for the CMA exam full time. In my opinion, even if you want to complete it quickly, I think you can at least keep looking around for jobs.

      2) Sure, both scenarios are fine.

      Good luck! Stephanie

      • Anurag Kumar Singh says:

        Hi Stephanie,
        Thanks for your information

        Also I wanted to know if both the part exams 1 and 2 could be written in same month for example Jan-2016 or one part examhas to be written in Jan “16 and other in Feb16?

        Also Being An Indian student i am planning to write the exam from outside India to Take Advantage of MOU between CMA USA AND ICAI INDIA

        • Hi Anurag,
          Hello, yes you can take both parts in the same month. In your example, both part 1 and 2 in January.
          And I believe so for your 2nd question. I am not 100% sure because the written rule is quite vague, but this is what my reader told me after her inquiry with IMA. You may want to double check just to make sure. Regards, Stephanie

  • Lakshmy says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thank you so much for your posts and mails. That’s surely an inspiration.
    I am an Indian working in UAE and would be writing exams in UAE. Will I be able to get the benefit of MoU? Also please advise if at all I get that benefit, if my work experience shall also be an abroad experience.

    • Hi Lakshmy, I believe it works, as you are working and taking the exam outside of India. But since I didn’t go through this myself, I suggest you double check with IMA anyway. Just a short email will give you a peace of mind 🙂 Regards, Stephanie

  • Vijay aron says:

    I’m a CMA student of IMA. Recently I contacted IMA & ICWAI for MOU established with them. After Number of mailings, I realized that MOU is Actually weak. ICWAI (Now its ICAI) does not want to reply/discuss with IMA and me regards MOU..Real beneficiary of MOU is ICAI only, They will get IMA certificate without write any papers, But In case of IMA member who completed course outside India , will not sure that Membership certification get from ICAI. Its still in confusing thing.The Students in India is not aware about this matter. I want help of you to reveal this Matter. If you have doubts regards that , Please discuss with this matter with IMA and ICWAI.,or I can forward mail to you what I received from IMA & ICWAI… Realise Facts….Without going Advertisement Propaganda

    • Lakshmy says:

      I contacted IMA ME on this matter. As per them the exam shall be written outside India. An Indian student can visit any other country even on a visit visa and write the exam. As far as work experience is concerned, it can be from anywhere, either within India or outside India. But I felt that the person who spoke to me was not that sure about the work experience matter.

      • Thanks Lakshmy for sharing. Yes that’s my understanding too — in practice they are quite lenient, for now.

        But the intention of this MOU is for those candidates living outside of India. Therefore, for an Indian candidate who takes a local coaching class in India and then flies to a neighboring country for a day for the exam, if his/her ICAI membership application gets rejected, I won’t blame anyone.

        • bharath says:

          i live in india im planning to write my xam in this january in nepal will my icai membership will be rejected ?? plss help me im have way down my way

          • Hi Bharath, I am not sure how the process will affect the ICAI membership… but my site covers the US CMA exam (instead of the Indian CMA exam), just to make sure we are talking about the same process. Thanks! Stephanie

    • Mallesh says:


      Could you please advise by doing CMA US, does this give an edge for my career?

      What would be the package for CMA US candidate in India by having 5 years of an experience in accounting field?

  • Vijay Aron says:

    Thank you Very Much Ms.Lakshmy & Stephanie Ng for informing this case,

    How ever I’m still confusing regards, work experience matter.

    If got information regards this, please forward that matter to me at anytime.

    My mail vijayaron24[@]

  • Ryan says:

    Dear Stephanie & Bloggers

    My Friend Told me that “Getting a credential without undergoing the ICWA exams will not give any competitive edge in the job market as the reality is different. This is only a title conferred on you like a honorary Doctorate whereas the ph.d in real sense is different.Getting ICWA designation thru’ CMA certification by CMA Exam appearance in any other country ( i.e. by MoU) may not however give any advantage in career.”

    Is any true regard this ?
    I’m Confused with this

    • Dear Ryan,

      To address the last sentence, quite frankly ICWA is a local designation that is only recognized in India (maybe recognized in Middle East and neighboring countries in South Asia, but not in US, Canada, Australia, Europe, even East and Southeast Asia).

      Second, when I interview a candidate, I can’t tell how this person gets his designation. The most I can do is to ask for the certificate as a proof, which should be the same no matter how you get it. Because of this, I don’t agree with what your friend say.

      He/she is most welcome to provide a different opinion here 🙂


  • Vijay aron says:

    I’m Partly support Ryan, Because if you want to do CMA(US) or CMA(India), whatever you get extra is just an addon and may increase your credibility in certain cases but essentially the secondary certification is just a addon.

    There are also increasing number of candidates from India. Everyone who looks at CMA(US) should have a plan to move abroad in a couple of years .Indian candidates who go for the CMA (US) because they find ICAI (or CIMA) too difficult. While I totally understand the rationale, getting it easier doesn’t mean that it is as useful.there are also a large group of candidates taking the exam in the hope to find a job in the US. Some are even told that CMA can land you a visa and a job right away. Please don’t believe in those nonsense.

    In order to work in the US, most people need the H1B visa which is very hard to get. The most natural and easiest path is to arrange an internal transfer through your current employer.

    This is only possible if this company has a regional office or headquarters in the US (and that you have great track record in the company).

  • mahesh says:

    sir,I’m from Kerala ..I completed my graduation in commerce…CMA USA is better for my future ?I’m the first person to join CMA USA ..I not know anything about CMA and their job opportunity.

  • Ryan cruise says:

    Dear Mahesh,

    Search in Job portals in India.All of them Asking about ICWA(CMA)/MBA/CA for Cost accountant Jobs, In case of Finance Manager Jobs , they are asking about MBA/ etc….

    Here I did not see any job posting requires CMA (US) in India, Additional Specifications of job requirement is Tax & laws only.(ICWA) CMA india means Cost & Mgmt Accountant

    CMA(US) means Certified Management Accountant

    Both are Different ,CMA US just test Knowledge of understanding only.

    IMA never control the number of CMA graduates, While ICWA controls their Nos of members as per demand in market

    Getting a credential without undergoing the ICWA exams will not give any competitive edge in the job market as the reality is different. This is only a title conferred on you like a honorary Doctorate whereas the ph.d in real sense is different.Getting ICWA designation thru’ CMA certification by CMA Exam appearance in any other country ( i.e. by MoU) may not however give any advantage in career.

  • vijay aron says:

    I agree with ryan cruise, ICWAI established 1959 & members total in last 56 years is near 56000 And students in a year more than 5.5 Lakh . Compare with IMA , its totally different ,This means that “IMA never control the number of CMA graduates, While ICWA controls their Nos of members as per demand in market”

    Exam pass rate is not disclosed by ICWAI , How ever its expected to be less than 5 % ,

    We can not compare Indian CA also, Its established on 1949 & members strength is 2.4 lakh & students strength is more than 12 lakh.

    CMA (US) beneficial if you are at middle east, US & maybe in china also, How ever Educational qualification is not much important for Jobs in these countries.


    Sir , I am a btech student . i would like to do CMA USA with btech . will there be any problem by doing so . I am intrested in cost management field

    • Hi Faize, the CMA exam welcome bachelor degree holders in any discipline, so you are qualified, but the examiners expect candidates to have a basic understanding of accounting so you may want to spend more time on the studying. Regards, Stephanie

  • navya reddy says:

    Hi Im Navya from India.currently pursuing mba nd also taken cma usa exam part 1.I want to move to us to do my masters eill this cma certification help me to fetch jobs there in USA?please help me.

    • Hi Navya, I think the certification helps you stand out especially in companies that value the CMA, e.g. in the big companies with most costing functions. But I don’t think it will land you a job in the US, definitely not “fetching” you a job…

  • Ritz says:

    Does it makes sense with Cma mba combination?

  • Shiva says:

    Hi…I’m Shiva from India …I’m studying…after which would be useful for me to study whether CA or CMA? Please reply me….

    • Hi Shiva, it really depends on where you want to work long term. If you stay in India and may work in any type of industry and firms, then CA is good; but if you are looking beyond India (e.g. Middle East and US), and that you prefer to work in big multinational companies, then you may consider CMA. Regards, Stephanie

  • Rahul says:

    Which is better to STUDY ? ICWA or CMA (us) . I prefer working in the middle east. If we can get ICWA certificate by appearing for CMA Exams outside India. Then definitely CMA would be better course ryt ? Instead of completing ICWA for 4 years and then applying for CMA US certificate which would take a longer time.

  • vipan kumar says:

    I am CMA of india and presently working with governmet organisation as acccounts assistant..however, want to flourish my future in canada or usa …would u please guide me in this regard how i can get there.

    • aisha shaheen says:

      Sir CMA is a good course for outside job other than india.. U must try to get outside jobs… Many vacancies are available … U must try….
      I want an other question? Why do u does CMA? Not CA ( chattered accountant)? Is CMA is beneficial than CA?

  • aisha shaheen says:

    I am a student … I am intrested to do professional jobs… My aim is to be chattered accountant (CA)..and get a job in other conturies ….for this My sir offered me to do CMA … I do not understant what job is better for do in other conturies in better salary and good carrier… Please guide me… Sir

    • Hi Aisha, it really depends on your own interest and passion. It’s hard for me to pick that for you. Once you’ve found out what you like, search for the top qualification in that area and see if it is worth going for. Regards, Stephanie

  • Irfan says:


    If one gets ACMA membership of ICAI through MRA between ICAI (Cost) and IPA Australia, can one apply for CMA (US) certification without appearing for IMA exams in view of MRA between IMA and ICAI?

    • Hi Irfan, I didn’t study the rules, but generally there are restrictions on how a membership gained through MRA can be seen as equivalent when it comes to getting waivers and exemptions. Because, otherwise, most of us would only need to take one qualification exam and be able to gain most others.

      So I suspect the answer is no, but please double check with IMA. Regards, Stephanie

  • Shruti says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    I am pursuing Chartered Accountancy from ICAI (CA) but im not really passionate about it. Ive been thinking of doing something else for quite some time now and i stumbled upon CMA.
    Can you advise me as to which is a better option – CA or CMA? Is the structure of CMA(India) same as CA? What about the job opportunities in India? Will it be better to have a CA or CMA if I want a well paying job?

    Thanks for such an informative blog. Really helpful!
    Shruti 🙂

  • racha ravi says:

    hello Stephanie, I have worked as an accountant in a trading company for 1.5yr,i have completed icwa inter and ca inter as well.and i have a ignou degree,i wish to study cpa course in us.after completion of my icwa final,by getting us cma certification.Am”i eligible to write cpa exam.
    please clarify my query.
    yours faithfully,
    racha ravi.

    • Hi Racha, I am not sure if I underestand correctly, but are you planning to (1) complete ICWA final, (2) go for the CMA exam, then (3) use the CMA (and othe qualifications)’s credits to apply for the US CPA exam?
      If (3) is your ultimate goal, I have to say it doesn’t really work, as the state boards no longer recognize these qualifications as they used to be years back. You can check out the educational requirements for CPA here:

      If you are interested in CMA as a standalone certification, then you can of course still go ahead with your plan. Regards, Stephanie

      • racha ravi says:

        thanx for your valuable words.with cma cetification.can i work in usa directely?if not, what else i should do for that.can you give me list of MNC”s which have headquaters located in america.

        • Hi Racha, as far as I know, the CMA certification (or any accounting qualifications that I know of) does not give you a direct advantage in applying for work visa. But if you are aiming to work at an MNC in your own country, especially if one with a sizable manufacturing arm, it should help. There are literally thousands of such MNCs. Simply type “MNC in US” in google to get the many lists available.

  • Aditya Pillutla says:

    Hi Stephanie,
    I have completed CMA inter, and came across this post while researching future avenues. Curious, I surfed through the ICAI Website, and summoned the patience to read through the entire MOU. Nowhere did I find a mention about this “Indians outside India” reference for admission into CMA IMA. Could you please clarify on this stand?

    • Hi Aditya, thanks for bringing this to my attention. I now provide additional link and information which hopefully will help other readers.

      On your question, the interpretation is based on the first paragraph of the procedure guideline from ICWAI. I have the quotation and link in the above.

      There is also a summary of MoU with further restrictions. You may also find the direct quote and link in the above. Regards, Stephanie

  • Chandra says:

    Could the procedure guidelines be interpreted thus: in case a candidate wants to apply for recognition in ICAI after completing CMA IMA, he should have completed CMA IMA from a location outside India.

    From my point of view, I think the guidelines mean to say that the candidate must be a member of CMA IMA without being a resident in India, and not the other way round?

    Also, urm, ICWAI has changed its name to ICAI (Institute of Cost Accountants of India) it would be really helpful if the suitable correction were to be made. Thank you

  • Haris says:

    I am an Indian student currently planning to take up ICWAI. Could you point out how much time would it take to complete ICWAI and how much time for CMA (Assuming you pass in the first attempt)?
    Also is it possible to pursue both in one time?

    • Hi Haris,
      I don’t know how much it takes to ICWAI but I am quite sure it takes longer because of the structure of the exam. Generally speaking, if candidates do not postpone their exams due to other commitments, they can complete the US CMA within 12 months.

      But as you can see from my bloggers, probably half of them postpone it due to various reasons.

      As for taking two together, for most people it doesn’t make sense because of the reason above, but if you think you have the time commitment and ability to do it, thee isn’t any restriction that prevent you from giving this a try. Regards, Stephanie

  • Jinay modi says:

    Its great.

    I m studying in Icwai inter. And i planning for job in usa after complete Icwai.

    As u say mou between Icwai and cma(usa) do i get the job easily???

    • Hi Jinay,
      For qualifications (CMA or other), it can only help us to a certain extent. How you craft your resume and your performance in interview is very important too. Good luck! Stephanie

  • Mohan rao says:

    plz suggest me should I apply for U.S. cma as I have recently qualified Indian with All India rank 43.
    will this addition add more credential

  • Muhammad shuhaib says:

    Hey there this is shuhaib and i want to do cma (usa) i am from India . Once i complete the course can i get a job in India itself??

    • Hi Muhammad, I can’t really generalize, but I would say it helps if you work for a multinational company esp those with a strong manufacturing base in India. But it certainly can’t guarantee a job. Its recognition in India is not as obvious as in US, China or Middle East, but IMA is aggressively building its presence in the country. You can check out this page for further discussion:

      Regards, Stephanie

  • Tejas says:

    Currently pursuing CA but I do not feel one with the CA.
    As iam more interested in management I took up CMA and will appear in September

    What really worries me is will CMA certification provide a good base in India to work in a US subsidiary ?
    Parents are of the view it won’t.
    Please Stephanie I rely on your words. They mean alot

    • Hi Tejas,
      I think it helps, but the CMA title can’t guarantee a a job in a US company (or any company), you know. This is the same case for any certification.

      So while it is great that you go for the CMA, you should also work on your other skills, such as how to craft an impressive CV and the how to ace your interviews. Those count a lot (if not more).

      Regards, Stephanie

  • SAI NARAYAN says:

    Hi Stephan,

    I am your fan. I often go and read your articles in this Site. I a one question. Say Suppose I join the CMA IMA US course and unable to complete with in three years of time. then what will happen. you can re-register or that is the maximum time within which you have to completed. Thank you for the reply.

    • Hi Sai, thanks for your note! If say you pass Part 1 and not Part 2, then after three years you will lose the exam credit of Part 1. You’ll have to pay again to get into the program and start all over. You can keep doing this (although realistically you may not want to re-register more than once).

      Regards, Stephanie

  • Karan says:

    I am currently pursuing CA (chartered accountant) and i am looking for this course
    Is there would be any additional advantage for me at job level

  • Sinha says:


    I am from India. I have Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. I recently got a job as process associate in a US based company. My role is a team member working in a team working on payroll in Finance Department. If i clear the CMA US exams, will my experience in the current role be considered to become a member of IMA?.

  • Arfan says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    I’m planning to pursue for CMA(IMA), but am little confused. I wish to stay in India for 5-10 years and to shift abroad afterwards.
    So,if i obtain my CMA(IMA) and get CMA(INDIA) through MOU will I be able to get the same career opportunities as of CMA(INDIA) apart from practicing in India AND
    What are the plus points that CMA(INDIA) have over CMA(IMA) in career perspective when working in India.
    OR should I drop planning CMA(USA) and pursue for CMA(INDIA)?

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Arfan, if it is 5-10 years, I would personally go for the CMA (india) qualification, because the local one is always the best. Once you get that, you can also apply for the CMA (US) when you are ready to go abroad. This way, you don’t need to pay the fees when CMA (US) is not as useful.

      CMA (US) is expanding quickly in India but it’s still not a household name. You can still wait 😉

  • Sarath says:

    I really dont get it??
    Icwai membership will be awarded only those who complete the program from outside of India? What does that actually mean?

  • Sarath says:

    The MOU says that you have to take the exams from outside India to be eligible for ICWAI membership . I am an Indian having plans to pursue CMA(US). What do you think I should do to be eligible for ICWAI membership? i.e Where should I apply from? Where should I take the tests from and so on?

    • Hi Sarath, if you are an Indian living or working outside of India, then this applies. If you are an Indian living in India, it does not apply. The rule makes sure that people don’t game the system, e.g. try to take the “seemingly easier” CMA exam to get the ICWAI membership. (note: the CMA exam, being easier, may be a myth more than a fact)

  • Shikha Verma says:

    What are the fees for CMA India qualified for ima us degree ????

  • Vaibhav vemparala says:

    Dear madam,
    I am a resident of India and i have been preparing through a self review course.
    Can you please tell me if I take the exam outside of India say nepal or bhutan, will I get the ICAI certification of India as well.
    And please can you also tell me whether such countries have IMA testing centre.


  • Tejas Gore says:

    My question is..
    Iam from India and iam pursuing U.S. CMA.
    I want to get the benefit of the dual degree I.e. along with U.S. CMA I get the CMA, India as well.
    Iam giving my exams from Dubai.
    Will I be eligible for the dual degree ?

    • Hi Tejas, if ICWAI believes that you are taking the CMA program outside of India, then yes you should be able to get both qualifications. I don’t have enough info to determine whether it’s the case, but you can check it out with ICWAI or IMA (can use alias or remain anonymous if preferred)

  • Rajesh says:

    As a associate level what position I can get directly if I complete the cma

    • Hi Rajesh, the CMA certification won’t guarantee you any position as it depends on a lot of factors, such as your experience and how you perform in your interviews. So I am afraid I cannot answer your question this time.

  • Tejas Gore says:

    Hi Stephanie

    I have been attempting CMA part-2 mock tests recently and I have been scoring between the range of 71-75% in the mcq section.

    How can improve so that I touch 80% ?
    Will falling within 70% range help me clear ?

    Thank You 🙂

    • Hi Tejas,
      I would go through each wrong question very slowly and make sure you understand why the right answer is correct, and why the wrong ones are wrong. That’s pretty much the only way to improve. The questions you are going to get in the actual exam will be different, so there isn’t a black-or-white percentage that you need to achieve in the online test prep. But I would definitely work towards a higher percentage. Good luck! Stephanie

  • Tejas Gore says:

    Different questions as in ?

    • As in the style, nature and difficulty would be similar but one cannot expect to have the same exact questions pop up in the actual exam. I don’t think we can expect that to happen in any professional exams.

  • Tejas Gore says:

    It is possible to clear the CMA exam of iam not done with one of the section properly ?

    • Hi Tejas,
      As long as you have enough correct answers to get the passing score, it doesn’t matter how good/bad you perform in any section. Having said that, I wouldn’t risk underpreparing and of the sections 😉

      Hope it helps! Stephanie

  • bhanu prakash says:

    Hi I’m bhanu prakash my query is I don’t have work experience till now but I’m writing part one n next two months I want to do cpa for eligibility I did my mba(fin) now very tension point is trump is declared not to give jobs for abroad persons if I passed my cma exams I’ll get job n USA

    • Hi Bhanu, please note that getting the CMA, CPA or other US based qualifications does not directly lead to jobs in the US (that’s true even before the Trump administration). Therefore, if your sole purpose is to land a job in the US, then please think twice about these certifications. It might help but it’s not like people will guarantee you for a job, similar to the fact that ACCA members cannot automatically land a job in the UK. Regards, Stephanie

  • Chirag says:

    I had decided to do us CMA .. but after i went through ur comments here… m confused.. wic course pays high salary .. CMA or CPA?

    • Hi Chirag, I have to say that either CMA or CPA won’t guarantee higher salaries. It opens more opportunities, and some of my bloggers have been getting promotion (and higher salary) right after getting the CMA certification, but this is no guarantee.

      Because of this it’s hard to tell. You have to see this as a longer term investment. For benefits that you may get from the CMA certification, please refer to this page here. If they are attractive enough, go for it! If not, can always wait 🙂

  • AJ says:

    I want to study CMA USA without turion . is it a good ideas to sit without turion ? If yes then how ? I am going for this course as I have 10 years of experience in field of accounting doing various works.


  • Sandy says:

    hi i am MS CIT master degree, having 5 exp in accounting and management supervisor , which is best for me CMA or any other course boost up my career , i want settled to in Thailand with that course.

    • Hi Sandy,
      To be honest I am not sure if the CMA certification is well recognized in Thailand. you may want to check with the industry people there to get a better idea. Otherwise, your experience and background fit the CMA certification very well. Regards, Stephanie

  • Tarun gupta says:

    Sir what is the good thing in icwa and cma us and if I am doing cma us and not doing icwa is I am going to face some thing problem plz sir help me

    • Hi Tarun,
      There should be no conflict between the two. If you pass your ICWA exam, you can apply for an additional membership in US CMA without going through another exam (but needs to pay the membership fees). In your case I suggest that you focus on your ICWA and the option for the extra CMA certification is always open if you need it. Hope it helps! Stephanie

  • Bhanu prakash says:

    Hi I want to know one thing I’m doing second year can I pursue usa cma can I eligible to get for cma with atleast ug third year

  • preeti says:

    HI Stephanie

    Can I do CMA (ICWA) India and then apply for CMA USA, what is the process, since CMA India includes added topics.

  • Vishal says:

    Which cource is best CPA or CMA From IMA (USA)??


    I am Indian CMA & my age is 53 yrs having 27 yrs of experience. Can I get a job after completing CMA USA

    • Getting the CMA US will help you to stand out among your peers also seeking a job. The designation will not guarantee you a job but it will help you be more competitive in the job market. Having 27 years of experience and the CMA US will be attractive to potential employers.

  • Bhagya says:

    Sir, I’m doing my graduation in commerce in India. I want to do cma (india)after my graduation. But I’m rather confused which course is better (CMA(India)/CMA, (Us).Can I get CMA certification from IMA after Indian CMA?

    • There are some specific rules regarding the MOU. You’ll need to read the MOU to learn how that affects you if you decide to pursue the CMA India first rather than the IMA CMA. IMA CMA is global, and it is my preference because CMA India is very limited as to where it can benefit you.

  • SANTOSH says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    Recently I passed both the parts on my first attempts. and your blogs where big motivation during those tough period, you are real inspiration for all.
    I would also like to bring to your notice, recently when I mailed ICAI asking for procedure to apply for ICAI membership through exception for CMA member, they replyied “The reciprocal membership with IMA-USA is on hold since October 2017”
    and same reply I got from IMA “IMA and ICAI have decided to dissolve the MRA”
    I would request you to update this in your site, so that all other are aware or else people still think they can apply for ICAI certificate as well after completing CMA.

    • Hello,

      I did confirm with the IMA that there is no longer any reciprocity between ICAI and the IMA. Therefore, I have updated the article to remove any reference to this former MOU.

  • Sujit says:

    Hi, I have ICWA qualification and just checking if i can get CMA IMA course as part of MOU. Is it still valid ?

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