ACCA vs CMA USA - Which course should you choose?


When thinking of pursuing a professional certification in Accountancy, the first names that come to mind are usually CMA USA and ACCA. While both certifications are globally recognized and are two of the most popular career choices among finance and accounting community students, there are quite a few differences that might make you choose one from the other.
In this blog, you can check all the features in this comparison of ACCA vs CMA USA, consisting of all the deciding factors, including exam syllabus, exam pattern, duration of completion, etc. 
Let us help you navigate these two Accountancy certifications so that you can ultimately decide which one to pursue as your professional career.

What is ACCA?

ACCA, or Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, is an internationally recognized accounting body providing the globally valued and highly competent professional certification of the same name - ACCA. The ACCA curriculum covers all the aspects of business accounting, making it one of the most preferred and relevant credentials.

What is CMA USA?

CMA USA, or Certified Management Accountant, is a professional credential offered to individuals by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), validating their knowledge and skills in the field of financial management and business accounting. Moreover, it is a globally recognized professional certification and is valid in over 100 countries.

ACCA vs CMA USA: Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility requirements for ACCA and CMA USA will help you decide which certification you should choose based on your educational qualification and level of work experience. Check the eligibility requirements for both ACCA and CMA USA below.


  1. Candidates must complete their 10th as a minimum required qualification to start the ACCA course. However, a Bachelors degree is mandatory to get certified as a professional ACCA.
  2. Candidates require a minimum of 65% in Accounts or Mathematics and English in their class 12th board exams.
  3. Candidates should have scored 50% in their other subjects.
  4. The candidate needs to fulfill the three years of PER.


  1. Candidates must have a Bachelor's Degree in any area from an accredited university/college.
  2. Candidates also require a minimum of 2 years of professional work experience in Management Accounting or Financial Management. This requirement may be completed before or within seven years of passing the examination.
  3. Candidates need to be a member of the IMA and adhere to the Statement of Ethical Professional Practice.

ACCA vs CMA USA: Exemptions

When pursuing ACCA, candidates are offered some exemptions based on their level of knowledge accumulated up to the time of registration for the ACCA qualification exam. These exemptions are given in some of the papers of the ACCA exam. Check the details of the exemptions that can be availed based on your educational credentials.
QualificationNumber of Exemptions AllowedPapers Exempted From
12th Pass0None
Commerce Graduates4BT, MA, FA, LW
CA IPCC (both groups)5BT, MA, FA, TX,AA
CA Final or passed9BT-FM (9 subjects)
However, such ACCA exemptions are not available for any of the papers of the CMA USA exam. It is an important factor of ACCA vs CMA USA compared as it will help you reduce your exam duration based on your educational qualification.

ACCA vs CMA USA: Syllabus

Knowing about the syllabus of both certification exams will help you gauge which certification exam syllabus suits you according to your preference and interests and based on your educational qualification. Check the exam levels and the weightage in each paper, so you know where to focus more.


The ACCA UK exam syllabus comprises 13 exams which are divided into three levels:

Applied Knowledge

  • Business & Technology (BT)
  • Management Accounting (MA)
  • Financial Accounting (FA)

Applied Skills

  • Corporate and Business Law (LW)
  • Performance Management (PM)
  • Taxation (TX)
  • Financial Reporting (FR)
  • Audit and Assurance (AA)
  • Financial Management (FM)

Strategic Professional Level

  • Strategic Business Leader (SBL)
  • Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)
  • Ethics & Professional Skills
  • Four Additional Exam Options (AFM, APM, ATX, AAA)


The CMA USA exam is divided into Part-I, which consists of "Financial Planning, Performance, and Analysis" and Part-II, which consists of "Strategic Financial Management".

Financial Planning, Performance, and Analysis: 

  • External Financial Reporting Decisions (15%)
  • Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting (20%)
  • Performance Management (20%)
  • Cost Management (15%)
  • Internal Controls (15%)
  • Technology and Analytics (15%)

Strategic Financial Management:

  • Financial Statement Analysis (20%)
  • Corporate Finance (20%)
  • Decision Analysis (25%)
  • Risk Management (10%)
  • Investment Decisions (10%)
  • Professional Ethics (15%)

ACCA vs CMA USA: Exam Format

Now let us discuss the examination format for both certifications.

ACCA syllabus

Sections (for EACH paper)Applied KnowledgeApplied SkillsStrategic Professional Level
Exam Duration2 hours3 hours4 hours
Total Marks Allotted100100100
Passing Marks50%50%50%

CMA USA syllabus

Exam NameType of QuestionsTime Duration of ExamTotal Marks AllottedPassing Marks
Part-I: Financial Planning, Performance, and AnalyticsMultiple Choice Questions (100) + Essay (2)4 hours; including 30 minutes for each Essay500360
Part-II: Strategic Financial ManagementMultiple Choice Questions (100) + Essay (2)4 hours; including 30 minutes for each Essay500360
Passing Rate:
The passing percentage of the ACCA exam is greater than that of the CMA USA. The passing rate for the CMA USA exam is around 40-45%, while the passing rate for the ACCA qualification exam is around 40-50%. However, your chances of clearing an exam can be improved with the help of coaching from a reputed Institute for CMA USA or ACCA.

ACCA vs CMA USA: Job Opportunities

ACCA and CMA USA both certifications offer an international platform for pursuing a career in accounting and finance. Knowing about the job opportunities offered after obtaining either certification will help you narrow down the possible future career prospects for yourself. Take a look at the job roles offered to such certified professionals.


  • Accountant, 
  • Internal auditor, 
  • Forensic accountant, 
  • Compliance officer, 
  • Business analyst, 
  • Risk manager, 
  • Treasurer, 
  • Insolvency practitioner, 
  • Business consultant, 
  • Chief financial officer, etc.


  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Finance Manager
  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Risk Manager
  • Financial Controller
  • Cost Accountant or Manager
  • Relationship Manager
  • Finance Director
  • Credit Controller
  • Chief Accountant
  • Management Accountant, etc.

ACCA vs CMA USA: Duration

One of the most prominent factors guiding the decision to choose from "ACCA vs CMA USA" is the duration within which either certification exam can be completed.
While pursuing ACCA, candidates can take a maximum of 5 years to clear all 13 papers. However, it is possible to complete the ACCA exam in 18-24 months with the right preparation. On average, it takes 3 to 4 years to complete the exam. 
In the case of the CMA USA exam, candidates may take a maximum of 3 years. But with the right preparation, the US CMA certification can be acquired in 12-18 months. 


One of the most important aspects you should consider while choosing between ACCA vs CMA USA is the exam fees for both courses.


In the ACCA exam, candidates need to pay an Initial Registration Fee of 30, an Annual Subscription Fee of 116, and a Re-registration fee of 89. Candidates are required to pay for each exam they take in the ACCA qualification exam. Check the fee for each exam below.
Exam LevelExam Entry PeriodDecember 2022 (per exam)
LW, PM, TX, FR, AA, FMStandard129
Ethics & Professional SkillsStandard71
Business & Technology (BT), Management Accounting (MA), and Financial Accounting (FA) are the on-demand CBEs (Computer-Based Exams). You can book them; their fees depend on in-house centers, ranging from Rs 8k to Rs 10k.
The fee break-up is different based on the papers you are exempted from in the ACCA qualification exam. Check the fee break-up in case of exemptions in the ACCA exam.
Exemption inCost
Each Knowledge Exam84
Each Skill Exam111


The fee break-up of students and working professionals taking the CMA USA exam is different. The fee break-up has been listed below.
CategoryIMA Membership Registration FeeIMA Entrance FeePart-1 Exam FeePart-2 Exam FeeProcessing Fee
Students$135 (valid for 3 years)$210$345$345Nil
Professionals$260 (valid for 1 year)$280$460$460$15
Now that everything has been summed up for you, you can tally everything and decide which way between ACCA vs CMA USA you want to go. No matter what certification you choose, ACCA or CMA USA, you can get comprehensive exam guidance at NorthStar Academy. Enroll yourself at NorthStar Academy and reap many more benefits of both courses, such as concise study material, discounts on exam fees through Bundle discounts, access to online classes, and much more.


1. Which is better, US CMA or ACCA?

Depending on what you are better at and which path interests you more, you can make a decision between ACCA vs CMA USA. If you are interested in financial and accounting management, CMA USA is the right choice. If you are more inclined towards all things related to Accountancy, ACCA is the way to go for you.

2. Who earns more, CMA USA or ACCA?

The earning potential of ACCA-certified professionals ranges between $36,737 and $43,715, while certified CMA USA professionals can earn an average annual salary of around $100,000.

3.Can I do CMA USA after ACCA?

Yes, it is possible to pursue CMA USA after completing the ACCA certification exams. If you have ACCA full membership, you will be exempted from the Bachelor's degree eligibility requirement for taking the CMA USA exam

4. Is ACCA respected in the USA?

According to ACCAGlobal, ACCA-certified professionals can work in a number of locations in the USA

5. Is CMA more difficult than ACCA?

Going by the percentage required to pass an exam, CMA has a high pass Percentage of 70%, while ACCA has a pass percentage of around 40-50%. It makes ACCA an easier exam to pass than CMA USA. Going by the duration, ACCA can be completed faster than the CMA USA exam.

6. What is the salary of ACCA in the USA?

The average annual salary of a certified ACCA professional working in the USA is around $87,000

7. What is the passing rate of ACCA?

The passing rate of ACCA ranges within a range of 40-50%

8. How much does an ACCA earn in India?

In India, an ACCA-certified professional can earn between INR 29 lakhs per annum and INR 88 lakhs per annum on average.

9. What is the duration of ACCA?

ACCA can be completed within a duration of 1 year. However, in this case, candidates can take a maximum of 7 years to complete all 13 exams

10. How many papers of ACCA are exempted after the US CMA?

US CMA-certified professionals get exemptions in 3 papers of ACCA.


To make it easier for you, NorthStar Academy provides ACCA and CMA USA certification courses for all-inclusive, comprehensive guidance on their exams. Expert guidance from highly experienced mentors such as M. Irfat sir and your dedication will help you clear the CMA USA and ACCA certification exam on the first attempt. 
There are more perks if you enroll at NSA, such as access to Bundle discounts on exam fees. NSA also provides well-researched and highly organized study material highly preferred by students and successful professionals. You can also access online classes as per our courses on Android and iOS. This means you can study for these certification exams anytime you want, from anywhere you want.
So don't wait anymore; enroll in the CMA USA & ACCA course at NSA today and avail yourself of the excellent benefits as part of the course, and become a successful ACCA-certified professional today!
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