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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 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.

CMA (Canada)

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.

CMA US vs CMA Canada: Prerequisite and Experience Requirement


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.

CMA (Canada)

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.

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 passing rate is very high, around 90%.

CMA US vs CMA Canada: Statutory Rights and Recognition


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 (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 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.

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 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:

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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  • Gunner says:

    I agree with your assessment. The IMA CMA exams are much tougher, but the Canadian CMA is a more restrictive designation.
    I am not sure if the CPA merger is going to benefit Canadian CMA holders, time will tell.

  • Gideon Goldmann says:

    Hi, Stephanie

    Just wanted to find out if there are exemptions for CMA (USA) holders who wish to sit for the CMA (Canada) designation. Cheers.

  • Gunner says:

    You get no exemptions for the US CMA from CMA Canada. The CGA association gives you credit for MA1 and MA2 which is not much.

    BTW: The pass rates for the CMA Canada entrance exam are around 90% and the case exam pass rates are usually close to 80% which means pretty much everybody passes.

    It would be nice for the designations to work together a bit more since they are constantly telling us how “global” business has become. But I guess they all want to collect membership and exam fees.

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Gunner, can’t agree with you more… thanks for your input on the MA1 and MA2 credits. Stephanie
      From what I heard also, the Canadian exam is really easy but the whole process is more restrictive (pretty much open to Canadians only) and it takes longer. Stephanie

  • Jerry says:


    Im just done with bachelors in commerce from India, just wanted to know whether i can study CMA (usa) in canada.

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Jerry, sure you can study for the exam anywhere if you take the online courses. I have more info here: https://ipassthecmaexam.com/cma-review-course.

      Having said that, if you live and work in Canada in a longer term, the Canadian CMA should be a better fit for you. Regards, Stephanie

      • Gunner says:

        Hello Stephanie,

        Just letting you know that the Canadian CMA is gone in most provinces and is accepting no more candidates; the only other option besides the IMA CMA is the Canadian CPA

        • Stephanie Ng says:

          Oh I see, thanks a lot Gunner. I’ll do some research and update the page, or at least point people to the Canadian CPA page. Cheers, Stephanie

          • Gunner says:

            Hello Stephanie,
            Your information on this page is still very good; the Canadian CMA will be around for another 10 years, only the program has ended;
            This is a good page to get more info on the “new” CPA http://www.cpapro.ca
            As the CPA becomes the only designation, the provincial bodies will develop their own sites. Now they can charge more for courses and membership fees since there is no more competition.
            I still prefer the US CPA certification process; at least you do not have to pay $ 1,200/year in basic membership fees to keep your CPA.

          • Stephanie Ng says:

            Thanks, very helpful Gunner. $1200 is outrageous!

  • amna says:

    I wanna immigration to Canada and i live in Pakistan so what would you suggest CMA USA is not wothful for me.

  • andrew says:

    I’m from egypt, passed US CMA, But I will move to Canada How US CMA will not benefit me there, Iam so frustrated… Anybody please tell me if I could even use it to obtain equivalent to Canadian bachelor degree or not?? As I emailed different organizations like wes.org, and they did not benefit me as they want to see my documents “with charges” first, even if it will not be useful for me

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Andrew, unfortunately Canada has its own set of CMA certification (to be rolled into the new CPA Canada designation). I don’t think in normal circumstances, the CMA certification would be seen equivalent to a Canadian bachelor degree, but maybe there are a few ways to work around it. That’s why evaluators won’t tell you the answer right away as they need time to go through your education as a whole. If it takes their time, it means $$. Hope you understand.

      If you think their service is not useful (which I tend to agree with you, because likely it won’t be considered equivalent), then don’t get the report then. If you are approved to go to Canada, why need to get this equivalency done? For work in the future?

  • Andrew says:

    Thanks so much for ur reply
    yes I need it for work directly as accountant even at first at Canada

    Also, if I want to take Canadian CPA pro, will I need first to take bachelor university degree or not ??

  • Craig says:

    I will migrate to canada next year and want to do a cam course, which should I do, how can I do CPA canada without being Canadian..

  • Husni hamade says:

    Actually I’m preparing CMA US courses , but I want to know if CMA US can converted to CMA Canada and acceptable as a CMA certificate with all Canadian benefits related ?
    Thank you

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Husni, I see. As far as I know, the two institutes do not have reciprocal arrangements and agreements. They are completely separate entities. Also, CMA Canada is being rolled into the new CPA Canada so its previous agreements with other certifications around the world may no longer be valid. It’s best to check with CPA Canada directly. Regards, Stephanie

  • Moh says:

    Actually, I have a US CMA and I will move to Canada next summer permanently but I need to know can my CMA respected and recognized in Canada ?

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Moh,
      I don’t think it’s officially recognized (they have their own CMA Canada, now being rolled in to be CPA canada), but if you work in US companies esp the big ones, it is helpful. Hope it helps! Stephanie

  • sed says:

    Hi There,

    I am currently in Ontario, Canada and I am planning on doing the Canadian CMA(CPA) now as I will be working in Canada in the next few years. But in the long run, I plan on working abroad preferably in the Middle East. So I was wondering if you could tell me whether the Canadian CMA or the US CMA would be beneficial in the long run. Because I dont want to spend 2 years doing the Canadian CPA and then again wasting time doing the US CPA.

    Thanks a lot,


  • Sulman says:

    I am from Pakistan
    I want to know may I migrate to CANADA on the CPA CANADA
    If yes please tell me the procedure
    Because I want to go CANADA but as well as I want to do study higher accounting course
    An other questions if it is impossible the may I study CPA CANADA course in PAKISTAN.

  • Ali says:

    Hey Everyone!

    I have the US CMA from the IMA, moved to Canada and wondered if there is an equivalent to the Canadian CMA and i e mailed the IMA directly and they were very responsive with the following:

    IMA CMA members should freely promote the fact that they are CMAs. IMA always recommends that you put the place of issue of your CMA on all correspondence (i.e. CMA (USA) or something similar) with the public to avoid any confusion. In Ontario, Alberta and Quebec, laws were recently passed which restricts the use of CMA by anyone without a CMA from CMA Canada. IMA recommends that you put Certified by the Institute of Management Accountants or IMA Certified Member as part of your professional credentials if you reside or work in one of these three provinces.

    Ontario Bill 158 is the newest and most restrictive piece of legislation affecting IMA CMA members. In part, it states that a member:

    · Cannot use the designation “Certified Management Accountant” or the initials “C.M.A.”, “CMA”, “F.C.M.A.”, “FCMA” alone or in combination with other words or abbreviations

    · Cannot put CMA or Certified Management Accountant or similar on business cards. Adding the country of origin (i.e., CMA (USA)) is expressly prohibited

    · Can recognize themselves as a CMA in a speech or other presentation given at a professional or academic conference or other similar forum

    · Can call themselves a CMA in an application for employment or a private communication or RFP respecting the retainer of the individual’s services, if the reference is made to indicate the individual’s educational background and the individual expressly indicates that he or she is not a member of CMA Canada and is not governed by the CMA Canada.

    Meaning it depends on what you would require from the certificate itself, the CMA is with regards to managerial finance rather than CPA which has to do with audit etc… where it is required that you have the CPA designation to sign on official financial reports which usually takes place by the auditor in the audit firms rather than Director level or Leadership Team personnel, as confirmed by people on this forum and other forums that most employers accept the IMA CMA in Canada.

  • Kam says:

    In my opinion the most prestigious “Management Accounting” bodies in the world are CMA Canada and CIMA UK.
    CMA Canada is full member of IFAC (International federation of accountants) where as CMA US is not. And CMA Canada is quite comprehensive as compare to CMA US.
    CMA Canada has an entrance exam (which can be exempt based on your educational background); however you have to complete the two years Strategic Leadership Program (SLP) which is the core of the program. The 2 years SLP is spread over 6 Modules, 1 Annual Case exam and 1 final Board Report Exam and you need 2 years Canadian work experience to get the designation.

  • sri says:

    I would like to study and work in Canada. I did master of commerce in accounting branch in india.what shall I do?can you suggest me? Should I go for CMA Canada? Or any other?
    Please guide me.
    Thanking you.

  • kam says:

    If you want to live and work in Canada, no more options available except to go for CPA CANADA, as recently all the 3 top accounting bodies (CMA, CA, CGA) were merged as CPA.

      • Ali says:

        Well again am not in favor of that assumption, once you are certified by a strong body (IMA) what matters the most is your attitude towards your job and your input as a CMA holder, CMA isn’t looked down at in many financial communities in Canada, having an IMA CMA in Canada shouldn’t affect anyone who doesn’t sign financial statements (i.e: Auditors) while if you are working in corporate finance/banking or any other sectors or even becoming a CFO having a Canadian CMA or an IMA CMA is always an added benefit.

        After looking at so many CVs and having dealt with people who have a Canadian CMA the added value of it is extremely minor in comparison to the IMA CMA whereas the holder would be a Controller or a Finance Director at a minimum, also IMA CMA is cheaper to maintain (approx. 250$) while the Canadian CMA is around 1,200 CAD per year which is quite a substantial amount

        • Stephanie Ng says:

          Thanks for sharing your opinion Ali.

          Sri, the best way to find out is to type in “IMA CMA” or “US CMA” vs “CPA” (or “CPA Canada”) in online job search website, either within your area or in Canada, and see what kind of job pops up.

          Regards, Stephanie

  • Jasdeep says:

    I have been coming to the blog every now and then, just to check on things or get my questions answered..
    I just wanna say you are doing a great job. It’s really helpfull and provides a lot of knowledge frm 1st hand experience of ppl..


  • Ann says:

    Sir, I am a CMA student in Kerala. Whether i got the job opportunities in Canada or it may require any other additional course for securing jobs in there??

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Ann, I am not sure about the situation in Canada, but generally speaking, no professional qualification can guarantee jobs. Also, if you are aiming to go to Canada, I encourage you look at the Canadian CPA qualification vs the US CMA covered on this site. Regards, Stephanie

  • Vikas says:


    It seems to me that CPA Canada has obliterated the CMA, correct me if I am wrong. And the losers are wannabe CMAs and the beneficiaries are people who had CMA or CPA earlier gained. CMAs got CPA (a higher qualification) and CPAs increased their strength, though increased competition for themselves. People who have desire to do CMA (but have no interest in CPA) have no option but do CMA (IMA).

    Is my understanding correct?

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Vikas, it is an opinion so I can’t say it’s right or wrong, but I can’t say I agree with you.
      I believe you begin by referring to CMA Canada. But then your later argument is on CMA US. I am quite confused.

      On the second point which I believe you are making, there are certainly people who could have qualified for both US CPA and US CMA but still choose CMA. There are also CPAs who get CMA as their second qualification. There aren’t a lot but I’ve known quite a few here. So again, can’t agree with your last point on people going for CMA because they have no option.

      If the CMA qualification is not useless, I don’t think there is a need for this site to exist 😉

  • CMA Canada says:

    Not sure where you got the pass rate from;
    But I can assure you Canada CMA is probably way harder to get than CMA(US) and AICPA
    People who fail from Canadian CA/CMA program go down to US and easily passes all the tests

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      I respect your opinion, but this exam is no longer available and therefore I would probably focus on the new CPA exam. Regards, Stephanie

    • Gunner says:

      I got the pass rates directly from CMA British Columbia, Canada at the time. I have heard this false statement a million times from Canadians regarding the ease of attaining a US designation which is just based on hearsay and no actual experience.
      I have done both the Canadian CGA (now CPA) and US CMA and did not find the US tests easy to pass. As a matter of fact (yes fact) I found the Canadian exams easier.

  • Engin says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I’m from Turkey and I prepare my file for immigration to Canada. I am a Finance & Admin. Manager and I’d like to get CPA Canada as I think that it would help me to find a job there. Could you please tell me if it’s possible to get CPA Canada before moving there?

    Or, what if I get CMA in Turkey, would that help me in Canada?

    Thanks a lot in advance,

  • Yash says:

    I wanted to know how I could get the CMA (US) assessed for immigration to Canada.

    Also, Anyone check out the CPA Ontario requirements to become a member. I think as a CMA I am eligible.


    Appreciate the help..


  • Musarrat says:

    Hey Stephanie! You are doing a great job.
    I will soon become a Chartered Accountant from ICAP Pakistan, and I have also qualified CMA (USA). I am currently working for a multinational firm.
    Now, when I search for job opportunities in USA or Canada, obviously they do not mention whether they would be willing to accept applications from foreigners.
    1.Do you think I have a chance of being accepted as a viable candidate for a job in USA or Canada?

    2.What would be the best way to approach them for a job?

    3.Is presence in the the relevant country mandatory?

    Thank you for your help

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Musarrat,
      Generally one needs a sponsor company to help arrange a H1B visa. It’s pretty hard to get though… You can google on H1B to find out more. Regards, Stephanie

  • Muhammad Ahsan says:

    Dear sir i hope you well I am Accounts and Finance professional 5 years experience in Finance field i have HDA Eloquent HND UK base on 6 Exemption in ACCA so I want to move Canada imigration or job etc so please guide me.

    Muhammad Ahsan
    Thanks Alot’s

  • harneet kaur says:

    Hey guys..? Need your help.. Hope I would get. Actually m from India and very soon I m about to join US CMA from India itself as I thought through global recognition of this course , I will be able to work anywhere across the world especially in Canada but now reading the stuff given above, getting in well of confusion. Please, help me out to know whether doing US CMA will enable me to work in Canada or not? Or if No then what should I prefer to do.

  • harneet kaur says:

    Hello sir,
    I have passed my CMA foundation from ICMAI and also m doing graduation in bachelor of commerce. Being in a state of confusion whether to do CMA US or CMA canadian? I m hoping you to fix my ambiguous situation. I m willing to work as a CMA in canada. As I got to know that CMA US have worldwide recognition but then it came to my knowledge it won’t be applicable in canada. So please i request you to help me out. That which is to be done by me to work in canada.
    Harneet k

  • Asif Sadruddin says:

    I am CPA-CMA from Ontario, Canada. I support CMA Canada, it is not as easy as people think. Yes the program is good for Canada only. Based on other professional qualification, a candidate will get exemplion upto entry level, they have to complete 2 years SLP program. SLP program based on 4 hour exam in year 1 and Board presentation year 2. 2 year SLP study classes cover the full end to end preparation that help passing the exams. Receiprocity between CPA-CMA and CGMA-CIMA UK

  • Asif Sadruddin says:

    Yes, right

  • Amit says:


    I am Indian CA having experience of more then 11 years. I am planning to migrate to CANADA.

    Kindly guide me whether I should go for US CPA or Should i migrate canada first then complete CANADA CPA.

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Amit, I would say the Canadian CPA is a lot more relevant in Canada. I suggest that you complete your immigration process first. Good luck in your exciting journey! Stephanie

  • Prashanth says:

    Thanks for sharing so much of information.I feel it really very useful but, I need a little clarification about
    whether persuing CMA US is possible from Canada as I am planning to move Canada for my higher studies in Canada relating to International management courses. I am from India basically.

  • Jinansh says:

    I have finished CMA (USA) from IMA. I am planning to move to Canada for my higher studies. My query is if I get any exemptions in CPA Canada, after completing CMA (USA)?? Or Canadian CPA has any MOUs signed with CMA(USA) with this regard??

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