Differences Between CMA India VS CMA US: Which is Better for Career Goals?

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Choosing between CMA India Vs CMA US — has this dilemma kept you up at night?

What if the decision isn’t as challenging as it seems?

This blog will highlight the principal distinctions between CMA India Vs CMA USA, including recognition, eligibility requirements, course content, and career prospects in each country.

CMA India and CMA USA prepare students for financial accounting and strategic management careers but have distinct differences. 

In fact, The accounting sector in the US is expected to see a 10% growth in employment by 2026, suggesting a rising number of opportunities for those with CMA certification.

Businesses progressively appreciate the benefits of CMA skills, resulting in broader career prospects for certified professionals. Students frequently need guidance about where to pursue their certification, whether in the US or India. 

Are you curious about the differences between CMA India and CMA USA certifications? Let’s dive into it now!

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CMA Authority and Certifying Institutes

The US and India have dedicated organisations, such as CMA India and CMA USA. These organisations are responsible for setting standards, conducting examinations, and maintaining professional integrity in management accounting.

CMA India: The CMA certification is administered by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI), recognised as the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India (ICWAI)

This organisation holds authority as a statutory body established under an Act of Parliament

This legal foundation allows the ICAI to set standards and regulate the profession of cost accountancy within India. It ensures its members are equipped with the necessary skills and ethical guidelines for the field.

CMA US: In the US, the CMA certification is headed by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and holds significant prestige within international business circles. 

The IMA, an authority in management accounting, ensures the CMA meets global standards, making it a valued credential for professionals in diverse industries worldwide.

Let’s get to the eligibility of the CMA India and CMA US certifications!

Eligibility Criteria: CMA India VS CMA US

When you compare the eligibility criteria for CMA India and CMA US, you’ll notice distinct differences tailored to meet the specific needs of each region’s market and professional standards.

For the Indian CMA program, here’s what you need to qualify:

Educational Requirement: You must have completed Class 12 or equivalent from a recognized board or institution. This ensures you have a fundamental educational background before starting the course.

Prerequisites: To enrol in the Intermediate Course, you must either pass the Foundation Course or hold a bachelor’s degree in any discipline other than Fine Arts. This criterion ensures you maintain a standard of education and knowledge suitable for the intermediate level of professional accounting study.

Advancement: Admission to the Final Course requires successful completion of the Intermediate Course. This progression is only ensured if you are adequately prepared through the early stages of the CMA program. You should acquire the required skills and knowledge to move to your CMA education’s final, more advanced stage.

For the US CMA program, here are the eligibility criteria:

Educational Qualification: You must hold a bachelor’s degree from a reputed university or possess an equivalent professional certification. This ensures you have a foundational level of higher education or professional knowledge suitable for advanced study in management accounting.

Professional Experience: You are required to have two years of working experience in accounting or financial management. This experience can be acquired either before taking the exams or within seven years after passing them, providing flexibility and allowing for a diverse range of professional backgrounds.

IMA Membership: You also must enrol as an Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) member. Membership allows eligibility for the CMA exam and provides access to resources, networking opportunities, and continuous professional education.

These criteria for both CMA India and CMA USA certifications ensure that you are well-prepared and meet a set standard of educational and professional qualifications.

Visit Leap Scholar to learn more about the CMA US certification program!

After we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to explore the course curriculum for CMA India and CMA USA!

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Differences Between CMA India VS CMA US: Which is Better for Career Goals?

CMA USA syllabus vs CMA India Syllabus

The CMA program in the USA is condensed and designed to be completed in 6 to 9 months. It focuses on financial and strategic management. In contrast, the CMA program in India spans three years and includes three levels – each one year long with a diverse curriculum.

CMA USA6-9 months
CMA INDIA3 years
  1. CMA India – The CMA India course, managed by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI), has three levels: Foundation, Intermediate, and Final.
Foundation CourseFundamentals of Economics and Management
Fundamentals of Accounting
Fundamentals of Laws and Ethics
Fundamentals of Business Mathematics and Statistics
Intermediate CourseFinancial Accounting, Laws, and Ethics
Direct Taxation, Cost Accounting
Operations Management & Strategic Management
Cost & Management Accounting and Financial Management
Indirect Taxation
Company Accounts and Audit
Final CourseCorporate Laws & Compliance
Strategic Financial Management
Strategic Cost Management – Decision-making
Direct Tax Laws and International Taxation
Corporate Financial Reporting
Indirect Tax Laws and Practice
Cost and Management Audit
Strategic Performance Management and Business Valuation
  1. CMA US – The CMA US program is structured into two segments – Part 1, which covers Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics, and Part 2, which focuses on Strategic Financial Management. The examinations emphasise global business practices.
Part 1Financial Planning, Performance, and AnalyticsExternal Financial Reporting DecisionsPlanning, Budgeting, and ForecastingPerformance ManagementCost ManagementInternal Controls, Technology, and Analytics
Part 2Strategic Financial ManagementFinancial Statement AnalysisCorporate FinanceDecision AnalysisRisk ManagementInvestment DecisionsProfessional Ethics

Now that you know what’s on the menu, let’s help you examine how CMA India and CMA USA differ in exam structures.

Also read: How To Get an MIT degree from India

Exam Structure: CMA India Vs CMA US

Both CMA India and CMA US exams are designed to equip candidates with the necessary competencies to excel in various roles within the field of management accounting, tailored to meet the specific needs of their respective business environments.

a. CMA India Exam Structure:

The Indian CMA exam has three levels: Foundation, Intermediate, and Final.

Foundation Level: Consists of 4 papers.

Intermediate Level: Includes eight papers, organised into two groups of 4 papers each.

Final Level: Comprises eight papers, also divided into two groups.

Duration: Each paper is designed to be completed within a 3-hour timeframe.

Papers across all levels generally feature a combination of descriptive and objective questions.

b. CMA US Exam Structure:

The US CMA exam is structured into two parts, focusing on distinct aspects of management accounting and finance.

Part 1: Covers Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics.

Part 2: Concentrates on Strategic Financial Management.

Duration: Candidates are allotted 4 hours for each part, with 3 hours dedicated to the MCQs and 1 hour for the essay questions.

Each part includes 100 MCQs and two 30-minute essay questions.

Now, Let’s examine the expenses associated with each option to help you make an informed decision about the CMA India and CMA USA certifications.

CMA Certification Cost Comparison: India vs US

It’s always wise to understand which certification best serves your needs and to consider the costs you can comfortably afford.

Indian CMA Program Costs:

The cost structure for the CMA program in India, offered by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICMAI), is tiered according to the program’s three levels: foundation, Intermediate, and Final.

Foundation Level6,000
Intermediate Level23,100
Final Level25,000
Total Course54,100

US CMA Program Costs:

The CMA program in the United States is managed by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and involves a different fee structure that includes membership, entrance fees, and examination costs.

StructureFee in $Fee in
IMA Membership Fee
Entrance Fee$300₹25,000
Exam Fees$495₹42,000 
Total Estimated Minimum Cost$109091,633

CMA India and CMA USA certifications are investments in professional development and career advancement, with the costs reflective of the comprehensive education and certification they provide. Each program’s fees are structured to cover the resources, support, and evaluation required to equip you with the skills necessary to succeed in management accounting.

Also Read: Cost of Living in the USA in 2024

Global Recognition of CMA India Vs CMA USA

Regarding global recognition, CMA India and CMA USA each have unique standings and advantages tailored to different professional needs and geographic preferences. However, CMA US is more globally acknowledged than CMA India.

  1. CMA India: In India, the CMA certification is explicitly tailored for the Indian market, and it focuses on the intricacies of Indian accounting standards, taxation, and regulatory compliance. It is ideally suited for individuals planning to establish or continue their careers within India, providing them with deep insights into local business practices and legal frameworks essential for operating effectively in India’s unique business landscape.
  1. CMA US: This certification emphasises global accounting principles and strategic management practices, making it an excellent choice for professionals looking to pursue or advance careers internationally. It equips candidates with the skills necessary to navigate the complexities of global finance and business environments.

Salary expectations CMA India Vs CMA US

Salary expectations for Certified Management Accountants (CMA) can vary significantly between India and the United States, influenced by industry, experience, job role, and regional economic conditions.

CMA India Salaries:

            PositionsAverage Salary Range
Financial Analyst  4 to 7 lakhs per annum
Senior Financial Analyst 6 to 12 lakhs per annum
Cost Accountant₹8 to 11 lakhs per annum
Cost Controller13 to 20+ lakhs per annum
Finance Manager15 to 30+ lakhs per annum

CMA USA Salaries:

PositionsAverage Salary
Financial Analyst45 lakhs per annum ($53,888)
Senior Financial Analyst72 Lakhs per annum($86,221)
Finance Manager1 CR per annum($133,514)
Cost Accountant76 Lakhs per annum($91,011)
Cost Controller1 CR per annum($133,514)

Factors Influencing Salary:

Several factors, including industry, experience, certifications, and geographic location influence salaries. In comparing India and the US, these factors can have a varying impact on salary structures:

Industry Impact

India: There is a significant demand for skilled professionals in industries like technology, financial services, and manufacturing, which drives higher salaries. Technology and financial services, particularly in cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, and Hyderabad, often offer competitive pay due to their critical economic role.

US: Like India, the US sees higher salaries in technology, financial services, and manufacturing. Tech hubs like Silicon Valley and financial centres such as New York City often offer salaries that are among the highest globally due to the concentration of high-value companies and the demand for skilled labor.


India: The pay may be comparatively low for entry-level positions, but it increases substantially with experience. For instance, professionals with 5-10 years of experience might see a 50% to 100% increase compared to their starting salaries, depending on the sector and role.

US: Experience in the US also correlates with higher pay, but the percentage increase can be more pronounced, especially in high-demand industries. Experienced professionals can expect salary hikes anywhere from 75% to 200% over their career spans, reflecting both the higher cost of living and the value placed on experienced professionals.

The above table provides a detailed view of how CMA salaries differ based on experience levels for professionals from CMA India and CMA US – and highlights the importance of industry, experience, and location in determining salary.

Difficulty Level and Pass Rates: CMA India Vs CMA US

Knowing a bit about the difficulty levels and the pass rates could give you a heads-up on what challenges you might face while preparing for these courses.

Table of Difficulty Level and Pass Rates

Here is a comparison table for you to get a better understanding of the passing rates

CertificationDifficulty LevelPass rates
CMA IndiaHighFoundation: ~20%
Intermediate: ~15%
Final: ~10%
CMA USModerately – HighPart 1: ~45%
Part 2: ~50%

CMA US and CMA India are challenging certifications that demand high dedication, rigorous study, and a comprehensive understanding of management accounting principles.

The pass rates for both exams reflect their stringent standards and the level of preparation required to succeed. You should be prepared for a demanding study schedule and multiple attempts to achieve certification, particularly for CMA India.


Deciding which certification is better—CMA USA or CMA India—is not straightforward and depends mainly on individual career aspirations and goals. It is essential to consider which program best aligns with your professional objectives and where you envision your career path leading. 

Both certifications offer significant opportunities for students and professionals alike. The CMA India program stands out with its extensive syllabus encompassing many topics, providing a deep and broad educational experience. Meanwhile, the CMA US program is equally attractive due to its shorter completion time and wide global recognition, making it a practical choice for those looking to enhance their credentials on an international scale quickly.

So, take the time to weigh the benefits of each and choose the one that aligns most closely with your plans.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. Can Indian CMA work in the USA?

    A. No, an Indian CMA qualification alone does not directly qualify one to work in the USA due to differences in accounting standards and professional recognition. Indian CMAs looking to work in the U.S. often pursue the CMA USA certification to meet American standards and improve their employment prospects in the U.S. market. However, you can check out Leap Scholar if you plan to take the CMA US certification!

  • Q. Is CMA USA Recognised in India?

    A. Yes, the CMA USA is recognised in India, particularly by multinational companies and those with business ties to the U.S. While the CMA USA may not be as well-known as local qualifications like CA (Chartered Accountant) for certain roles, it is highly regarded in roles that require a deep understanding of global financial practices and management accounting.

  • Q. Is the US CMA equal to the Indian CMA?

    A. No, the US CMA and Indian CMA cater to different markets and focus areas. The US CMA, offered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), is internationally recognised and focuses broadly on financial planning, analysis, control, and decision support. In contrast, the Indian CMA, offered by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI), is more focused on cost accounting and strategic cost management, primarily catering to the Indian market.

  • Q. Can I pass the US CMA without coaching?

    A. Yes, passing the US CMA exams through self-study is feasible, especially if you have strong discipline and effective self-study techniques. Many candidates utilise a variety of resources such as textbooks, online courses, and practice exams to prepare independently.

  • Q. How many attempts are allowed in CMA USA?

    A. The CMA USA program allows for unlimited attempts at each part of the exam, but candidates must complete both parts within three years from their initial registration date. This allows candidates to pass the exams at their own pace within the given timeframe.

  • Q. Can I complete CMA USA in 1 year?

    A. Yes, you can complete the CMA USA certification within one year. Completing the CMA USA certification within a year is achievable through diligent study and effective time management. The program consists of two parts, each covering different aspects of management accounting and financial management. With a well-structured study plan, utilising diverse study resources, and dedicating focused study sessions, candidates can prepare for and pass each part within a few months.

  • Q. Can I do CMA India and CMA USA together?

    A. Yes, it is technically possible to study for both CMA India and CMA USA simultaneously. However, it requires meticulous planning and exceptional time management due to the intense study and examination demands of both programs. Candidates should consider their capacity to manage the workload before committing to both.

  • Q. How many hours should a CMA student study?

    A. When preparing for the CMA exam, students should allocate 150 to 170 hours of study time for each part. This equates to approximately 300 to 340 hours for both parts combined. However, it’s important to note that the exact number of study hours may vary depending on factors such as your familiarity with the exam material and your learning pace. Some candidates may require more or less time to grasp concepts thoroughly and feel adequately prepared for the exam.

  • Q. Who earns more MBAs or CMAs in India?

    A. In India, MBA graduates may initially have higher salaries due to the broad nature of their qualifications, which opens many types of management roles. However, CMAs often gain ground financially over time, especially in specialised roles that rely heavily on cost management and financial strategy, where their expertise is highly valued.

  • Q. Is CMA USA tough or easy?

    A. The CMA US exam is renowned for its rigorous nature. It thoroughly assesses a wide range of your accounting and financial management skills. It demands a deep understanding and strong proficiency in various areas of management accounting. With a relatively low industry average pass rate of 45% across both exam sections, the statistics reveal that less than half of all candidates manage to pass. This underscores the challenge posed by the exam and highlights the level of preparation required to succeed.

  • Q. What are the disadvantages of US CMA?

    A. The disadvantages of pursuing CMA certification include the substantial time and effort required. Achieving the certification demands significant dedication and financial investment in terms of exam fees, study materials, and ongoing education. However, organisations like Leap Scholar can provide valuable assistance, offering guidance and resources to help manage the preparation involved in obtaining CMA certification effectively.

  • Q. Is CMA US equal to MBA?

    A. The Certified Management Accountant Credential (CMA) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) are popular career paths. The CMA is a universally acknowledged and standardised certification. Conversely, MBAs can differ significantly depending on the institution and specialisation, frequently tailoring their curriculum to specific sectors or industries.

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