The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam is a globally recognized certification that signifies expertise in financial management and strategic management. Administered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), the CMA certification is highly valued in fields of finance and accounting, offering professionals a significant edge in the job market. However, many aspiring candidates often wonder if their prior qualifications or professional experience can exempt them from taking the CMA exam or parts of it.


Overview of the CMA Exam

Before diving into the exemptions, it’s important to understand what the CMA exam entails. The CMA exam is divided into two parts:

  1. Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics
  2. Part 2: Strategic Financial Management

Each part covers a comprehensive range of topics that are essential for management accountants, including financial planning, analysis, control, and decision support, as well as corporate finance, risk management, and investment decision-making.

Exemptions and Waivers

The IMA does not offer exemptions or waivers for the CMA exam based on prior qualifications or professional experience. This policy means that all candidates, regardless of their educational background or work experience, must pass both parts of the exam to earn the CMA certification.



While the IMA does not provide exemptions for the CMA exam itself, there are certain qualifications that can affect the prerequisites for taking the exam. For instance:

Educational Requirement: Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or an equivalent degree as determined by an independent evaluation agency. However, students who are still pursuing their degree can start taking the CMA exam before graduation.

Professional Experience: Candidates are required to have two continuous years of professional experience in management accounting or financial management. This can be completed prior to or within seven years of passing the exam. However, this requirement does not exempt them from taking the exam but is a prerequisite for certification after passing the exam.


Preparatory Courses and Professional Designations

Some candidates may find that certain preparatory courses or holding other professional designations (like CPA or ACCA) can help them prepare for the CMA exam, but these do not offer direct exemptions. The IMA does recognize the value of these qualifications and offers various resources and study materials tailored to individuals with different backgrounds.



In summary, there are no direct exemptions or waivers for the CMA exam based on prior qualifications or experience. Every candidate must meet the educational and professional experience requirements and pass both parts of the CMA exam to earn the certification. This rigorous standard ensures that all CMAs have a consistent level of knowledge and skills in management accounting, underlining the prestige and value of the certification in the global finance and accounting industry.

For the most current information on the CMA exam requirements, exemptions, and any potential changes to the policy, candidates should refer to the official IMA website or contact the IMA directly. This ensures access to the latest updates and guidelines, helping candidates navigate their path to becoming a Certified Management Accountant.