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Quick Analysis on CMA US vs CMA Canada: Which is Better?

CMA US vs CMA CanadaI am often asked about the difference between CMA US vs CMA Canada. Here is a quick analysis for your information.

UPDATE: Please note that CMA Canada is now part of CPA Canada. This Canadian CMA program is no longer open for new candidates. You can learn about how to become a Canadian CPA here.

CMA US vs CMA Canada: Exam Structure


The certification is offered by IMA, a US-based organization that focuses exclusively on advancing the management accounting profession. To start the process, candidates must first become an IMA member (pay the fee) and register for the exam. There are two parts of the exam; candidates can take it in any order and within the same window.

CMA (Canada)

The CMA designation is granted by 12 provinces and jurisdictions. Each of them can have different CMA exam requirements, but as far as I know, the process is similar.

To get a CMA, candidates have to take an approved university program. After completion of the program, they take a CMA Entrance Examination. After passing, you perform case studies under the 2-year CMA Strategic Leadership Program, a case examination, and then present to the CMA board.

CMA US vs CMA Canada: Prerequisite and Experience Requirement


A bachelor’s degree is accepted from virtually any country. After passing the exam, candidates must fulfill 2 years of relevant experience to become a CMA. There is much flexibility in the process: candidates can take the exam before they graduate, and the experience can be gained before, during, or after the exam.

CMA (Canada)

I will take Ontario’s requirement in this example. Candidates are required to have a post-secondary degree. They must also complete 17 designated topics with a minimum grade of 60% in each undergraduate course or 70% in each graduate course. The courses should be covered if candidates take business, commerce, or accounting degree programs at a university.

Certain university programs have been accredited by CMA Canada, and graduates of these programs may qualify for an exemption from the entrance exam.

Pass Rates


The exam is tough, with pass rates of 31% for Part 1 and 48% for Part 2. North American candidates have higher pass rates at around 50%.

CMA (Canada)

I cannot find supporting data, but from what I gather, the exam is not particularly easy, but the passing rate is very high, around 90%.

CMA US vs CMA Canada: Statutory Rights and Recognition


The CMA granted by IMA is a professional certification without any statutory rights e.g. signing of an audit report. You can call yourself a CMA in Canada, but it has to be stated as “CMA (IMA)” or “CMA (US).” According to my friends in Canada, most employees are happy with the American version — if it is a global firm, they might even prefer the one from IMA.

CMA (Canada)

CMA in Canada may perform audits in certain provinces, but some provinces require a CA or CGA to sign off on a CMA. Outside of Canada, if you call yourself a CMA people presume that you’ve got the US version. While not strictly required, you might want to put CMA (Canada) on your business card.

At the same time, CICA and CMA Canada joined together on January 1, 2013, to create Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) as the national organization to support the unification of the Canadian accounting profession under the CPA banner. In other words, by becoming a CMA Canada, you can now be known as the CPA Canada as well.


Going through the US or Canadian version of the CMA help you develop the same knowledge base, but the path toward the designation is quite different.

CMA (US) is a global designation with many certificate holders outside of the US, e.g. in China and the Middle East. The process is more exam-oriented: the prerequisite and experience requirement is very flexible, but the exam itself is much tougher.

The CMA Canada designation is pretty much designed for Canadians only, with restrictive educational and experience requirements. If you are a Canadian, the benefits of getting CMA (Canada) are that the exam is easier and you can get a “CPA” title now with the CA/CMA/CGA unification drive.

What Is Your Recommendation?

For Canadians, here are more helpful blogs and sites relevant to the Canadian CMA exam:

If you are not a Canadian or plan to work in places other than Canada, I recommend you go for the US CMA designation. You may find the following links useful:

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

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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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