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:


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

For more information on the CMA exam as well as tips on study tactics, please consider signing 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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  • jasmina says:

    I have to pass the cma exam in first attempt

  • Mrinal says:

    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?

  • manoj says:

    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

  • Karim says:

    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 ,


  • Ahmad says:

    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 ?


    • 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.

  • Parimal Karmakar says:

    I am i have 7 years experience department of accounts.My question is what is the best course for me of strong carrer of finance.

    • 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

  • Salmanul Faris says:

    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 .

    • 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

  • anju says:

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

    • 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

  • usman shafi says:

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

    • 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

  • intzar ahmad says:

    hello sir my question is about time duration. after 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 …

    • 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

  • mashood says:

    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

    • 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

  • Asif says:

    Hello Sir,
    Is CMA internationally recognized certification?

    • 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

  • Sandeep Reddy says:

    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

    • 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

    • Naveen says:

      Hi sir,
      IS CMA a UK or US baseb?

      • 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

  • parama bose says:

    hello sir,
    i am really confused with my career. i am a final year 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

  • saf says:

    will cma help me build my own business?

    • 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).

  • Shipra kanungo says:

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

    • 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

  • Taha Shaikh says:

    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

  • tina ahuja says:

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

  • Ahmed faisal says:


    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,

    • 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.

  • Jilian says:

    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

  • D says:

    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,

  • Ashwin says:

    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??

  • Josna Joseph says:

    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…

    • 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

  • Mohammed says:

    Hello Stephanie,

    I have an MBA and I attended MBA and gained experienced simultaneously and pursued 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 ?

  • danish says:

    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

  • muhammed says:

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

  • Ashwin says:

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

  • Prince sharma says:

    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

    • 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

  • Faiz says:


    Iam a 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

  • Natasha George says:

    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?

    • 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:

      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

  • george says:

    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.

    • 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

  • Shahnawaz says:

    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.

  • MJ says:

    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!!

    • 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

  • Navnath says:

    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?

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