I 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.
The certification is offered by IMA, a US-based organization 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 and candidates can take it in any order and within the same window.
The CMA designation is granted by 12 provinces and jurisdiction. 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 an 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.
Bachelor degree is accepted from virtually any country. After passing the exam, candidates are required to fulfill 2 years of relevant experience in order 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.
I will take Ontario’s requirement in this example. Candidates are required to have a post-secondary degree. They also need to complete 17 designated topics with a minimum grade of 60% in each undergraduate course or 70% in each graduate course. If candidates take business, commerce or accounting degree programs at the university, the courses should be covered.
Certain university programs have been accredited by CMA Canada, and graduates of these programs may qualify for an exemption of the entrance exam.
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%.
I cannot find supporting data but from what I gather, the exam is not particularly easy, but passing rate is very high, around 90%.
CMA granted by IMA is a professional certification without any statutory rights e.g. signing of 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 American version — if it is a global firm they might even prefer the one from IMA.
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 January 1, 2013, to create Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) as the national organization to support 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 path towards the designation is quite different.
CMA (US) is global designation with large portion of certificate holders outside of the US, e.g. in China and the Middle East. The process 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 the restrictive educational and experience requirements. If you are a Canadian, the benefits of getting CMA (Canada) is that the exam is easier and you can get a “CPA” title now with the CA/CMA/CGA unification drive.
For Canadians here are more helpful blogs and sites relevant to the Canadian CMA exam:
If you are not a Canadian, or you plan to work in places other than Canada, I would recommend that 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 to 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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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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