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CMA vs MBA: Which is Better in Landing Your Dream Job?

CMA vs MBAFinance professionals who consider pursuing the CMA will certainly think about MBA vs other accounting certifications. We have a debate on CPA vs CMA here, and now let’s discuss whether one should pursue MBA or the CMA certification.

CMA vs MBA: Pro MBA Camp

1. A More Well-Rounded Education + Networking Hub

In terms of gaining knowledge, a 1-2 year curriculum offered by any MBA program should be more thorough than a 6-12 month self-study course required by the CMA exam. also, an MBA is based in theoretical work, but more importantly, it is a great networking opportunity.

2. No Maintenance Cost After Getting the Degree

Once you get your MBA, the knowledge and title is yours for the rest of the career. For CMA however, after getting certified you will have to pay an annual fee and fulfill the necessary CPE requirements. The amount isn’t much but it can be a hassle.

3. CMA is Not as Well Known

CMA does not get close to the perceived importance of the MBA, even with the MBA becoming somewhat commoditized.

CMA vs MBA: Pro CMA Camp

1. Faster and Less Expensive

Some recruiters do suggest getting a CMA instead because it is faster and less expensive to get the credentials. You can take the exam before getting your college degree and get your certificate right after the 2 years of experience.

2. More Relevant (For Some)

If you are looking for management accounting jobs especially in the manufacturing sector, people do seem to appreciate the CMA qualification.

How is CMA vs Master’s Degrees in General?

Here is  a video looking at a bigger-picture comparison of CMA vs master’s degrees, including MBA, MCOM and Master’s in Accounting and other related fields:

Conclusion

In a way, I see the MBA and CMA quite differently: MBA is an academic degree while CMA is a professional designation. For MBA, the critical point is where you are getting the MBA from. An MBA from Harvard is quite likely better than a CMA qualification alone, but an MBA from an unknown school or “diploma mill” will be of little use.

In terms of the practical question of which designation will help find a job, it is complicated because an MBA or CMA alone should not be the deciding factor. The educational and more importantly working experience counts a lot too, so do the performance during the interviews.

Having both is certainly a “win-win” strategy that works for many people, but then, either MBA or CMA require a significant commitment for one to pursue.

At the end of the day, the school or the designation is not what gets you the job – you are!

What’s your view on CMA vs MBA? Drop us a note below.

For Your Further Reading

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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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Leave a Comment:

73 comments
Navnath says May 17, 2018

Navnath Says

Hello steph

I have completed MBA & DTL. I have 2 year of experience in finance & accounts.
I want do CMA for useful & develop my career.
i want what will do?

Reply
MJ says March 21, 2018

Hi. I am an accounting graduate and passed the CPA board exam more than 2 years ago, and am currently working. However, I do not see my growth in the company I am with because I am not able to practice my accounting skills and CPA certification that much – focusing on just tax filings and cash call reports. So now, I am planning to take my MBA degree to refresh learnings, or to change careers for advancement, thinking it is a great avenue for learning since I don’t get that learning and experience from my current employer. With all the research I did, I know that both CMA certification and MBA degree do great to one’s career, which is why I am planning to take both. But right now, I am confused with which to take first before the other. Can you give me advice on this? Thank you so much!!

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says May 10, 2018

    Hi MJ,
    Thanks for your note. It’s hard to tell because I have limited information on your situation, but if the ultimate goal is to switch career, I might try MBA first simply because it has a better networking opportunity vs studying at home for the CMA exam. But I’ll make sure I get into the best MBA program my ability (or my budget) allows because the better the school, the more valuable of its network. Hope it helps! Stephanie

    Reply
Shahnawaz says September 29, 2017

Hii stephanie..
Will CMA would help me opening a new business or firm. If not suggest me some courses which should be helpful in my business.

Reply
george says September 1, 2017

Hello Steph,
I am an EU citizen and did an MBA in UK. However with less effect regarding getting a job and higher salary. Moreover, I was also disappointed with the MBA, being very/too wide.
I am looking into CMA, to get more analytical knowledge. I am not working in finance nor accounting, didn’t manage yet, however.
Questions is CMA relevant also in EU, or is there any better? Is there a sence doing this, since I am 35 years old, with 1 year of experience in finance, accounting- do you think I can get a job getting an CMA? thanks.

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says September 8, 2017

    Hi George,
    Thanks for your note. I have to say that the US CMA certificate is not as popular in the EU, so it might not give you the same value add as in other region. Just want to be honest with you… is there also local qualification that works better? Stephanie

    Reply
Natasha George says July 12, 2017

Hi Stephanie,

I am a B.Com Graduate from Delhi University. I am working with KPMG in their Audit Practice since the past three years, meanwhile i am also pursuing my MBA in Finance through distance learning. Just wanted to know if there are better job opportunities within India if I go for CMA after my MBA?

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says July 18, 2017

    Hi Natasha,
    I have to say that it really depends on which company you aspire to work for. In India, the CMA certification isn’t as recognized nationally yet. I suggest that you look it up at local online job search websites and see if enough interesting opportunities pop up. I go through how you can do it here: https://ipassthecmaexam.com/why-become-a-cma/

    With Big 4 experience and MBA, you probably don’t need further certification to move into corporate (I assume that’s your plan?) So it’s worth a thorough research before jumping into this certification. All the best! Stephanie

    Reply
Faiz says June 21, 2017

Hi

Iam a b.com graduated student and wish to do both CMA and MBA..will i able to get a job where both those cma and mba meets..i mean ia there any job title where both is considered and will it add to my opportunities?
I would also like to know,whether this combination is pursued

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says July 17, 2017

    Hi Faiz,
    I am quite sure there are opportunities that value both, but it also depends on the country you work. This page guides you on how to check that: https://ipassthecmaexam.com/why-become-a-cma/

    Regards, Stephanie

    Reply
Prince sharma says June 7, 2017

I had done my bcom in 2015, after that I worked in an travel agency as a CSR for 2 years.
Now I want to continue my study but I don’t have the experience in the field of CMA.
Now what should I have to do, should I wait and get 2 year experience or should I opt for MBA.
PLEASE reply ASAP
thank you

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says June 19, 2017

    Hi Prince,
    I suggest that you try looking for a job related to accounting or finance, and see if you like it. If the answer is yes, it’s worth going for MBA or CMA. I personally wouldn’t invest more money on further education without knowing whether it is helpful to my career. Regards, Stephanie

    Reply
Ashwin says June 2, 2017

Hi Stephanie,
This is Ashwin again, there’s a professional course called ICWA in India, can I know the difference between that and CMA?

Reply
muhammed says June 2, 2017

Hi
Is degree wanted to cma.cma or mba
Iam totally confused.which one is
More scope in uae and which one
Have more salary

Reply
danish says April 19, 2017

hi sir…..i am a bcom gratuate….many people suggested me to do cma…i am empty about cma..i know nothing…and will it be difficult or impossible to pass in first attempt if i do coaching …i expect a better solution from you sir

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says April 20, 2017

    Hi Danish, the vast majority of candidates outside India doesn’t go through the “coaching”. We simply take self-study courses. This is a personal choice so it’s totally fine if you choose to do that.

    Please take a look at this page as well: https://ipassthecmaexam.com/cma-online-coaching-vs-live-class/

    Reply
Mohammed says March 23, 2017

Hello Stephanie,

I have an MBA and M.com. I attended MBA and gained experienced simultaneously and pursued M.com from distance learning. I worked 7 hours a day after attending my MBA classes in the morning. After completing my MBA in September 2016 and M.Com in November i joined a private company as an accountant in December and now i want to go for CMA as i want to take my career to the next level. Is my experience relevant for the CMA certification ?

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says April 3, 2017

    Sure Mohammed, accounting in a company fits 100% 🙂

    Reply
Josna Joseph says March 6, 2017

Hi Stephanie,
I am a MBA graduate and started my career as an associate in a IT company. Now am interested to continue studies, so can you please suggest me whether CMA or CFA course is better to build my strong career. Please reply…

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says March 7, 2017

    Hi Josna, it depends on your aspiration — is it accounting within a corporation? Then CMA. If it is more on the finance and investment side, then CFA. They are quite different. If you don’t know, you can wait a bit and find out what you like the most / hate the most at work in order to decide. Regards, Stephanie

    Reply
Ashwin says October 30, 2016

Hey, Stephanie, i’m Ashwin, i’m about to finish my high school right now, and im planning to do bcom afterwards. I have less clue about cma-us but, im very interested in pursuing it. So, can u please help me??

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says October 30, 2016

    Hi Ashwin, great to know you are planning head. For now focus on your BCOM, and when you learn about accounting for a couple of years, you can register for the CMA exam. There will be a student discount. In the meantime, you can learn about the CMA exam in this FAQ page: https://ipassthecmaexam.com/cma-exam-faq/

    Regards
    Stephanie

    Reply
D says September 23, 2016

Hi Stephanie,

I am a finance professional for about 11 years now. I’ve grown a lot in my career and hold a MBA from UConn, a pretty well accredited university. I started a new career with a new company this past year. My current role is much more accounting focused than finance. My new boss has recommended I take the CMA in the next year to get the accounting training. I wanted to check and see if you think getting a CMA on top of my MBA from UConn is worth the extra effort? My wife and I just had our 3rd baby 2 weeks ago and the time committment is going to be tough! I do see the value of having a CMA for the long-term future, but just wondering if it’s worth getting on top of the MBA + experience I already have.

Would value your feedback. Thanks,
D

Reply
Jilian says September 7, 2016

Hi
I have an MBA from Anglia Ruskin University (UK) and considering doing my CMA (Canada), do you know if I get any exemptions from the CMA Program and would you suggest this as a worthy investment (career wise)?

Thank you

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says September 8, 2016

    Hi Jilian, I am afraid I don’t cover the canadian qualifications. But in any case there is no longer a “CMA Canada”. It has been rolled into a new designation called the CPA (Canada). Here are more details: https://ipassthecpaexam.com/how-to-become-cpa-in-canada/

    Reply
Ahmed faisal says August 8, 2016

Hi,

What is the best source to study the CMA? I have done the exam of part two using GLIEM materials but i think the material does not include brief explanation for my self-study, and the questions in the test bank is more complicated comparing to the exam. Now i am look for good material i can trust for passing the exam.

Furthermore, I am thinking of taking both CMA + MBA, I think it will worth because I may become more efficient in management while I have verity types of accounting techniques.
Can you advice me on both cases please,
Thank you,

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says August 11, 2016

    Hi Ahmed, many people actually prefer to have the practice questions slightly tougher than the actual exam… so what are you looking for?

    On CMA + MBA, sure, sounds good to me. You just need to budget your time, energy and money on two investments.

    Reply
tina ahuja says July 24, 2016

Hi ,I am a student of bcom (honours) from regular DU College ..so with this doing cma course will be beneficial or not??

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says July 26, 2016

    Hi Tina, it really depends where your aspiration is. It has to be relevant to your future job, you know 🙂
    You can check out this page on the benefits of getting a CMA certification: https://ipassthecmaexam.com/why-become-a-cma/

    Reply
Taha Shaikh says June 17, 2016

i decided to go for CMA if i complete my CMA so can i illegible for good jobs and earn out class money ……….. but the fact is that i am from pakistan so is there any scope on cma.. plz its my request give the answer for my question

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says June 19, 2016

    Hi Taha, everyone’s definition of good job is different so it is hard for me to tell, but we have a Pakistani blogger, Waqar, and you can read his story here: https://ipassthecmaexam.com/author/waqar/

    Reply
Shipra kanungo says June 14, 2016

Hi,
If I pursue CMA(US) from India, will I get a job somewhere besides India.

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says June 15, 2016

    Hi Shipra, CMA is more common in the Middle East, for example, but finding a job depends a lot on your CV, interview skills and your general network (whether there are people who will recommend you). In short, CMA title helps but please don’t rely on this (or any other) qualification when looking for a job. Regards, Stephanie

    Reply
saf says June 4, 2016

will cma help me build my own business?

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says June 4, 2016

    Hmm… maybe it’s better to read books on the topic. An entrepreneur doesn’t need a qualification in my opinion (unless you need a specific license, such as CPA).

    Reply
parama bose says March 26, 2016

hello sir,
i am really confused with my career. i am a final year b.com student from st xaviers college kolkata and i am cnfused between mba and cma. if i choose cma thn i will take it frm icwai and will get it us certified. which one will b bettr fr me. which one will give me a better xposore aftr 2 years. plzz hlp me out sir

Reply
Sandeep Reddy says March 21, 2016

Hi sir I am a bcom final year student.which is the better option of getting good salary in USA among MBA and CMA? Pls reply me

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says March 21, 2016

    Hi Sandeep,
    Either MBA or CMA can help a person to be very successful in their careers and get high salaries accordingly. But it’s not like you get the qualification then you are done with all the work. Your performance, attitude and network pretty much determines your success (and your salary) in life, and MBA/CMA is only part of it.

    So back to my point above, the best thing you can do at this stage is to pick a certification that fits your career interest, because if you are interested in your work, you will much more likely to do well. All the best! Stephanie

    Reply
    Naveen says May 22, 2016

    Hi sir,
    IS CMA a UK or US baseb?

    Reply
      Stephanie Ng says May 22, 2016

      Hi Naveen, it is a global certification, but the administrator (IMA) is based in the US. It is more recognized in US, China and to some extent Middle East. CIMA is the one from the UK but is also a global certification. Regards, Stephanie

      Reply
Asif says March 2, 2016

Hello Sir,
Is CMA internationally recognized certification?

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says March 3, 2016

    Hi Asif, it is most recognized in the US, of course. It’s also a relatively well-known name within corporate accounting in China. In the Middle East, it’s neck-to-neck with CIMA in my opinion, and for the rest of the world, not as recognized but in specific countries e.g. India, IMA has been aggressively building its presence there and I do get a lot more inquiries from Indian candidates for the past 2 years or so.

    Hope it helps! Stephanie

    Reply
mashood says February 9, 2016

Cma or mba in logistic which one is easy for studying? And which is more better to get best job? Iam a degree completed student

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says February 10, 2016

    hi Mashood, it’s hard to compare in this aspect. I encourage that you take a longer term view, such as looking into which subject areas you’d like to learn about in your MBA program and see if that’s what you like, vs the syllabus of CMA. In terms of the “best” job, people have different views so I also can’t generalize with an answer for you. Regards, Stephanie

    Reply
intzar ahmad says January 27, 2016

hello sir my question is about CMA.total time duration. after b.com I can admit directly in intermediate program. which is two years .but after this two year what is the training process …plz tell CMA total time duration …

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says January 28, 2016

    Hi Intzar, The US CMA is not considered equivalent to a degree, but a professional certification. But to answer your question, you can take the two parts within the same window and pass, so it can technically be done in a day provided that you have previous knowledge in the area. For most people it can be completed within a year. There are two years of working experience required and you can accumulate before, during or after the exam. Regards, Stephanie

    Reply
usman shafi says January 15, 2016

Hi sir…
I want to know that in which course I get my future settled easily…please guide me I done my 2 years b.com in first division…mba or acma.?I am so confused…

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says January 16, 2016

    Hi Usman, if you aren’t sure, it is best to work for a few years first so you know which career path you’d like to take. Then you can decide MBA or CMA accordingly. Regards, Stephanie

    Reply
anju says December 29, 2015

Sir Is there any option like doing cma and mba together ? I’m a final year bcom student.

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says December 30, 2015

    Hi Anju, sure you can. Many candidates work full time when they study for the CMA exam. So instead of working, you study for the MBA. Not a problem. The good thing is that you can get a student discount during the time of your MBA study. Regards, Stephanie

    Reply
Salmanul Faris says November 26, 2015

Hello Sir,
Now I’m Completed B.Com and Working at Accountant In United Arab Emirates. Also Still Confused Which Course I Can Choose Better to me. So please Advice to me MBA or CMA is most favorable to me do it .

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says November 26, 2015

    Hi Salmanul, it is normal to be confused, but it really depends on which path you yourself want to take. Please read the above again and give yourself a few days to think through it. It’s also helpful to talk to others as well. Maybe you can find someone in the IMA chapter in your area, and see you can meet some people there? They are generally very helpful. Regards, Stephanie

    Reply
Parimal Karmakar says August 19, 2015

Hi,
I am B.com(hons) i have 7 years experience department of accounts.My question is what is the best course for me of strong carrer of finance.
thanks

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says August 22, 2015

    Hi Parimal, if you want to strengthen your knowledge in Finance for the sole purpose of the CMa exam, I recommend that you take the review courses which is the most efficient and effective way to do it.

    But if you are looking towards a finance career (i.e. more on the personal development), then it depends whether you mean “corporate finance” or “finance management / asset management”. For former, CMA is great; for latter, CFA is better. Hope it helps, Stephanie

    Reply
Ahmad says August 16, 2015

Hi.
My question is I want to know what is the best master programs that can be taken after getting the CMA. and have the same manner of the CMA ?

thanks

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says August 18, 2015

    Hi Ahmad, I guess master’s program and CMA is somewhat unrelated… There are too many to choose from, but in terms of which subject area I would pick a program that best suits your career long term.

    Reply
Karim says July 18, 2015

Hey there ,
am thinking of MBA besides CMA course , it’s making sense to be a CMA and BMA ?
am thinking of CMA basically , so what other courses could be taken other than CIA and CPA , am looking for courses that in same manner of CMA as to managerial accounting , that would be strongly support my career ,

thanks

Reply
manoj says June 3, 2015

hello sir

i want to ask something , i am planning to work in dubai next year can i do the cma course there with doing my job is that possible or not ,if possible so tell me now

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says June 3, 2015

    Hi Manoj,
    Certainly. Most candidates have full time jobs. That’s also the reason why the self-study courses are getting popular. Regards, Stephanie

    Reply
Mrinal says May 23, 2015

I am B.Com graduate with 8 years of work experience. Currently I am going to complete my EPGBM & EMBA from not so well known management institute post this I have plans to study CMA from IMA. Can I go for CMA, Please advise?

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says May 25, 2015

    Sure you can! Your BCOM is good enough to get qualified 🙂 Stephanie

    Reply
jasmina says November 15, 2014

I have to pass the cma exam in first attempt

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says November 17, 2014

    Best wishes to you Jasmina! Stephanie

    Reply
    Jaswinder says April 15, 2016

    I did mba in finance,but I do not have experience and I am interested in accounting and management .I did m.com.Pease suggest me what I need to do next to gain practical knowledge.

    Reply
      Stephanie Ng says April 17, 2016

      Hi Jasmwinder, in my opinion your next step is to get experience, not knowledge. Focus in getting a good job and get the experience. This helps you narrow your specialty based on what you’d like to do long term. Then, you can study further for your knowledge, even in a specialized course or specialized professional qualification. Good luck! Stephanie

      Reply
        taha says June 8, 2016

        i want to do cma is it benificial for me compare mba plz give me a suggestion

        Reply
          Stephanie Ng says June 8, 2016

          Hi Taha, I though I have done exactly that in the above? If you have specific question in your own situation, please let me know. Stephanie

          Reply
        rohan says May 24, 2017

        just wanted to find out is it possible to do your cma work experience while you are pursuing your m.com degree?

        Reply
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