Choose the Right Accounting Cert in 2023: ACCA vs CMA – US

Are you considering getting an accounting certification? If so, you’re probably wondering which is right for you, ACCA or CMA (US). Both are highly respected certifications, but they have different focuses and requirements.

In this blog post, we’ll compare the two certifications regarding curriculum, exam requirements, career prospects, and salary potential. We’ll also discuss which certification is right for different types of accounting professionals.

By the end of this post, you’ll better understand the differences between ACCA and CMA (US) and be able to make an informed decision about which certification is right for you.

What is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA – US)?

CMA stands for Certified Management Accountant. A CMA is a professional designation given to those who have met the educational and experience requirements set forth by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). The CMA designation is recognised worldwide and is respected by businesses and organisations of all sizes.

Holding the CMA designation demonstrates that an individual has the knowledge and skills to manage an organisation’s finances and create value decisions. CMAs are strategic business partners who help organisations make informed decisions, drive growth, and create long-term success.

What is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)?

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is a professional body for accountants. ACCA provides membership and qualifications for accountants, conducting research and setting ethical and technical standards.

ACCA is the world’s largest body of professional accountants. It has 200,000 members and 600,000 students in 180+ countries. It is a highly regarded qualification that is globally recognised.

If you’re wondering which credential is best for you, read on for a closer look at both


What is the Difference Between ACCA and CMA (US)?

Both certifications are highly regarded and can lead to lucrative careers in accounting and finance. However, there are some key differences between the two certifications.

No. of papers132
Duration2-3 years6-9 months
Paper patternMCQs, Scenario Based & Case StudiesMCQs & Essay type questions
SyllabusAuditing, Accounting, Taxation, Costing, Corporate Law, Financial ManagementManagement Accounting, Costing, Financial Management
ExemptionsUpto 9 papers exemptionNo exemption
Recognition180+ countries100+ countries
Pass rateComparatively HighLow

1. Number of Papers in ACCA vs CMA (US)


To become a fully qualified ACCA member, you must pass all 13 papers and the Professional Ethics module. You will gain exemptions for up to 9 papers based on your qualification. 

The ACCA examination courses are categorised into three parts – The Fundamental level, The Professional level and an Ethical and Professional Skill Module.

Choose the Right Accounting Cert in 2023: ACCA vs CMA - US - Stride Edutech

Each level has a different focus. You must complete all the levels to qualify as a chartered accountant.


CMA has only one level, divided into 2 parts, and each piece covers different subject areas

Part I: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics

1. External Financial Reporting Decision 2. Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting 3. Performance Management 4. Cost Management 5. Internal Controls

Part II: Strategic Financial Management

1. Financial Statement Analysis 2. Corporate Finance 3. Decision Analysis 4. Risk Management 5. Investment Decisions 6. Professional Ethics.

2. Eligibility Criteria of ACCA vs CMA(US)

Eligibility Criteria of CMA(US)

Active membership in IMA (Institute of Management Accountants).

Candidates are only allowed to appear in the CMA examination if they become a member of IMA. There are multiple membership options available.

A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college/university or a related professional certification. This option is available to those individuals who do not have a bachelor’s degree but have professional certifications from other bodies. E.g., ACCA-qualified individuals.

Eligibility Criteria for ACCA

A student who wishes to register for the ACCA should complete 18 years of age.

Students should aggregate 65% in their +2 Maths/ Accounts and English examinations and a minimum of 50% in other subjects. 

Students must meet the earlier criteria to register for the ACCA Course through the Foundation in Accountancy (FIA) route.

Those recently completing their class 10 examinations can also register through the FIA route.

3. Exemptions in ACCA vs CMA (US)

The number of exemptions you can get for the ACCA and CMA certifications depends on your educational background, work experience, and other qualifications.

Exemptions available in ACCA

ACCA offer a range of exemptions for eligible candidates. For example, a candidate who is qualified CAs will get an exemption from 9 papers (Applied skill and knowledge papers)

S. NoStudent qualificationExemptions
1.Exemptions For B.Com and M.Com Qualified Students (4 Papers)BT, MA, FA, LW
2.Exemptions For BBA Qualified Students (1 paper)BT
3.Exemptions For MBA Qualified Students (3 Paper)BT, MA, FA
4.Exemptions For CA Foundation StudentsNo Exemptions
5.Exemptions For CA Inter-Qualified Students (5 papers)BT, MA, FA, TX, AA
6.Exemptions for Qualified CAs (9 papers)BT, MA, FA, LW, PM, TX, FR, AA, FM.

Exemptions in CMA (US)

There are no exemptions available in CMA. Member should write every part of the exam.

4. Roles and Responsibilities of ACCA vs CMA (US)

The roles and responsibilities of ACCA and CMA (US) certified accountants vary depending on their specific job titles and the organisations they work for. However, there are some general commonalities.

Roles and Responsibilities of an ACCA

The Roles and Responsibilities of an ACCA are as follows:

  • Financial Accountant
  • Management accountant
  • Corporate capital markets and funding, Liquidity and cash management, Corporate financial management, Risk management and Treasury operations
  • Assistant Accountant
  • Financial controller
  • Finance manager
  • Forensic accountant
  • The chief financial officer (CFO) is responsible for Management, budgeting, Accounting, reporting, Strategy and planning.
  • Auditor
  • Tax specialist.

Roles and Responsibilities of CMA (US)

The Roles and Responsibilities of CMA (US) are as follows:

  • Cost accountant
  • Corporate accountant
  • Financial analyst
  • Managerial accountant
  • Private accountant
  • Industrial accountant
  • Cost Management

5. The Duration Taken for ACCA & CMA (US) Exams

Since ACCA has different levels and subjects, it takes 2-3 years to complete. 

On the other hand, CMA (US) has no levels; It has just 2 parts. Hence, it takes less time to become a certified CMA than ACCA. 

6. How Difficult are CMA (US) and ACCA?

CMA (US) is considered the hardest exam since it tests the intellectual limits of the candidates. Only less than half of the people have passed the test so far.

Choose the Right Accounting Cert in 2023: ACCA vs CMA - US - Stride Edutech

Applied skills and Knowledge papers in ACCA are easier than Strategic Professional papers with better pass percentages than CMA.

In summary 

ACCA and CMA (US) are highly respected accounting certifications that can lead to lucrative careers and job opportunities in accounting and finance. 

If you are an aspiring accountant, it is important to understand the differences between ACCA and CMA (US) to choose the right certification for your career goals. Stride Edutech can help you to make an informed decision and prepare for the exams.

Visit Stride Edutech today to learn more about ACCA and CMA (US) and start your journey to becoming a certified accountant.


1.Which certification is right for me?

If you want to pursue a career in public accounting, ACCA is a good choice. If you want to pursue a career in corporate accounting or financial analysis, CMA (US) is a good choice.

2.How many exams do I need to pass to become certified?

To become certified as an ACCA, you need to pass 13 exams. To become certified as a CMA (US), you must pass 2 parts, each with 3 exams.

 3.What is the cost of the certification?

The cost of the ACCA certification varies depending on the country in which you are taking the exams. The cost of the CMA (US) certification also varies depending on the country in which you are taking the exams.




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