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CMA USA: Meaning, Benefits, Eligibility & More!

cma usa

Several times, students with finance, accounting or management backgrounds wish to advance their careers ahead but can’t figure out how. CMA USA is one way to get your career on the right track. It is a certification offered by the Institute of Management Accountants – IMA, United States. The exam is conducted in two parts in both multiple choice questions and essay formats. On successfully passing the exam, students can access global opportunities for career advancement and salary increments. To know more about CMA USA, continue reading our guide!

CMA USA: Highlights

Name of the CertificationCertified Management Accountant
Conducted byInstitute of Management Accountants
Exam StructurePart 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics
Part 2: Strategic Financial Management
Exam SessionsJanuary/February/ May/June/ September/October
Exam Time4 hours for each part
Minimum Passing360/500 for each part
Course Duration12 – 18 months
Pass Rate50% globally

What Is CMA USA?

Certified Management Accountant, or CMA USA test, is a benchmark for international qualification and global recognition. The CMA certification allows qualifying candidates to obtain a job in any of the leading companies in the finance sector in the United States. Thus, CMA USA opens doors of opportunities and career growth to international aspirants looking to shape their careers in finance.

Benefits Of CMA USA

Here are the top reasons why the CMA USA course is recommended to international finance aspirants:

  • Once you have the CMA certification, you are eligible to work for a large number of companies that operate globally. Thus, it opens several global opportunities.
  • On obtaining this certification, the chart of career growth often rises exponentially since recruiters and management-level authorities want qualified individuals for their companies.
  • According to past surveys, up to 58% of candidates who took the CMA USA test observed an increase in their salary and benefits, whereas another 37% could use the CMA certification to leverage their salary increments.
  • Since the CMA USA course duration is only 12 to 18 months, students can quickly complete the course without investing many crucial years of their ongoing careers.
  • The exam for the course is conducted in three batches every year – January and February, May and June, September and October.

CMA USA Eligibility

The first and foremost step to exploring any higher education course is verifying the eligibility criteria. Such high-level courses often have stringent eligibility requirements to filter out the best candidates for their courses. Thus, the US CMA eligibility for Indian students is as follows:

  • IMA Membership
  • A bachelor’s degree from a recognised or accredited institution in finance, accounting and management fields. 
  • 2 (continuous) years of work experience in related fields.
  • Abidance to the IMA’s Statement of Ethical Professional Practice.

CMA Exam Structure

As mentioned before, CMA USA is conducted thrice every year in January/February, May/June and September/October. Thus, students can book any slot they wish to attempt in according to their preparation and convenience. However, applicants can register for only one slot at a time. The exam is conducted in two parts. One significant advantage is that students can take the exam in any order they want. For instance, you can attempt part 2 first if you wish. However, you can only write the next one if you qualify for the first.

Students must pass with a 50% grade on the MCQ section to be eligible for the essay section. The minimum required score is 360 out of a total of 500 on each part to pass the exam.

The duration of the exam is 4 hours, consisting of 100 MCQ-type questions and two 30-minute essays. Note that CMA is conducted by the Institute of Management Accountants – IMA in a computer-based format. The results of the exam are sent to the candidates via email within six weeks after the end of the month when they took the exam.

CMA Exam Syllabus

Since the CMA USA exam is divided into two parts, the syllabus is also followed accordingly. Thus, the prescribed syllabus of the exam is as follows. Students are typically required to put in 170 hours of study for each part of the exam. Here are the CMA USA course details:

Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance and Analytics

Technology and Analysis15%
Internal Controls15%
Cost Management15%
Performance Management20%
Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting20%
External Financial Reporting Decisions 15%

Part 2: Strategic Financial Management

Financial Statement Analysis20%
Corporate Finance20%
Decision Analysis25%
Risk Management10%
Investment Decisions10%
Professional Ethics15%

Cost Of Studying: CMA USA 

The breakdown of CMA USA course fees for professional and student applicants respectively is given here. Note that in addition to this, an IMA membership is also mandatory.

ApplicantEntrance FeeExam Fee
Professional Members$280$460 per part
Student/ Academic Members$210$345

To meet the cost of studying for this certification, you may have to explore scholarships for Indian students to study in the US. Fortunately, IMA offers CMA scholarships to worthy candidates. More than 1,000 institutes from across the globe are a part of the scholarship programme to ensure that it reaches the right candidate. CMA scholarship funds of over $35 million have been disbursed to more than 20,000 students in the world. However, only 10 high-achieving students from each school and academic year are selected for the scholarship. Here are the benefits:

  • Entrance fee for the CMA programme
  • Exam support package with retired exam questions and a glossary of terms
  • Up to three years of IMA membership while pursuing the certification
  • Wiley CMA Excel Online Test Bank access for both exam parts for up to two years

In addition to this, take a look at the average annual cost of living in the USA as demonstrated in the table below.

ItemEstimated cost per month
Off-Campus Accommodation$525
On-Campus Accommodation$871
Total Cost Of Living With Off-Campus Accommodation$1,504
Total Cost Of Living With On-Campus Accommodation$1,850
Annual Cost Of Living$18,048

Best Books for CMA USA

While preparing for CMA USA, students can refer to the following books for additional guidance. These books are easily available online to purchase in both paperback format and e-book format.

  • Wiley CMA Excel Learning System Exam Review – 2017
  • Gleim’s CMA Review: Business Applications
  • Certified Management Accountant, US – Part 1: Financial Reporting, Planning, Performance and Control by Muhammad Zain
  • Strategic Financial Management
  • CMA: Financial Planning, Performance and Control Exam Secrets: CMA Test Review for the Certified Management Accountant Exam

How To Apply?

Applying for CMA USA is quite easy. Follow the below steps to ensure a successful application:

  1. Verify the eligibility criteria to check that you qualify. Also, explore the student visa in the USA.
  2. Visit the official website of IMA and register yourself as a member.
  3. Enrol yourself as a CMA candidate.
  4. You can then register for the exam by paying the fees. Candidates have to wait for authorisation from IMA to schedule their exam at a Prometric testing centre.

Currently, there are 10 test centres for the CMA USA exam in India:

  • Ahmedabad
  • Allahabad
  • Bangalore
  • Chennai
  • Gurgaon
  • Hyderabad
  • Kolkata
  • Mumbai
  • Trivandrum

Career Opportunities After CMA

As mentioned above in the previous sections, pursuing a CMA USA opens several doors of opportunities. To provide insight, here are the top recruiting companies after completing a CMA USA certification.

  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Accenture
  • Genpact
  • Cognizant
  • Grant Thornton
  • MaxLife Insurance
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • MasterCard
  • Barclays
  • Morgan Stanley
  • HP

In addition to that, here are the most popular job profiles and their average annual starting salaries. Note that these are beginner’s salaries only and candidates can expect their pay to increase with more experience and as they gain more skill sets.

Popular Job ProfilesAverage Starting Salaries (Annual)
Finance Manager INR 14,00,000
Budget Analyst INR 12,00,000
Finance Controller INR 19,00,000
Internal AuditorINR 3,00,000 – INR ​8,00,000 
Financial Analyst INR 5,00,000
Cost Accountant INR 5,00,000 – INR ​6,00,000
Management TraineeINR 6,70,000

CMA USA vs CMA India

To get an idea of how CMA USA differs from CMA India, take a look at the following table.

ParticularsCMA USACMA India
Conducted byIMA (Institute of Management Accountants)The Institute of Cost Accountants of India (formerly ICWAI)
Exam StructurePart 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics Part 2: Strategic Financial ManagementLevel 1: CMA FoundationLevel 2: CMA IntermediateLevel 3: CMA FinalTotal 20 papers
Course Duration12 to 18 months3 to 4 years
Cost of Exam$210 to $460INR 53,000
Exam WindowsJanuary/FebruaryMay/JuneSeptember/OctoberJuneDecember
Starting SalaryINR 5 to 7 lakh per yearINR 4 to 6 lakh per year


Is CMA USA harder than CA?

Taking the curriculum into consideration, there are more modules in CA than in CMA. Also, the syllabus in CA is a little complicated, while the US CMA subjects are easy to comprehend. If we look at the duration, CA exams take almost 5 years, while the duration of CMA is approximately 3 to 4 years.

What is CMA USA‘s salary?

The average starting salary for candidates who acquire CMA US certification is around INR 5 to 7 lakh per year for Indian aspirants.

How many attempts are allowed for CMA?

Candidates can take the CMA USA exam as often as needed until they pass. There is no limit to the number of attempts allowed.

Can I pursue CMA USA after completing a non-accounting degree?

Applicants need to have a finance or accounting degree to pursue CMA USA. For instance, a masters in finance in the USA or business management is also eligible. Additionally, candidates need to have 2 years of continuous work experience.

Thank you for reading our guide to CMA USA! Let us know your thoughts and queries in the comments section below!

1 thought on “Top PGDM Courses In Canada: Universities, Specialisations & Eligibility”

  1. I have done Bachelor’s in Culinary Arts from India and completed my graduation in the year 2022 .I am 22 years old. After graduation, I have done 1 year paid internship from USA .Now, I would like to take occupational experience and learn culinary skills and also do masters in Culinary arts.How can I find the college n best course / country where I can persue studying further

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CMA USA: Meaning, Benefits, Eligibility & More!

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