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If you’re a working professional, or soon to become one, you may be exploring the many certifications, degrees, and programs to expand your career prospects, enhance your education and elevate your credentials.

Although many higher professional education programs exist, two of the most pursued are the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification and the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. You might also be wondering – between the CMA and MBA, which is better?

The major difference between a US CMA qualification and an MBA degree is that the US CMA is a professional certification while the MBA is an academic degree. There are some key differences between these that you should know before choosing either path.

Career path of US CMA Vs. MBA

US CMA is an international qualification and is one of the best courses for students seeking jobs outside India. US CMAs can occupy positions such as Research Analyst, Cost Accountant, Financial analyst, Finance manager, or Financial C-Suite roles. They often become experts in the field of accounting and finance departments of an organization.

On the other hand, MBAs work in different business functions of an organization including strategy, financial planning, and management consultant. MBA degree is well suited to a professional who looks to enter into broader areas of business functions.

Eligibility difference between US CMA course and MBA

Both US CMA and MBA require a bachelor’s degree as basic eligibility. However, students who are pursuing their bachelor's are eligible to take the CMA exams. Another, key requirement of US CMA course is that students have to meet the CMA work experience requirements. These include

  1. Two years of professional experience in accounting or finance
  2. For fresher’s the experience requirement may be completed within 7 years of passing the examination.

Course details – US CMA, MBA

Regarding US CMA course details, the course has just 2 parts which can be cleared in 7 to 9 months’ time. One key advantage is that you can complete the course without disturbing your current commitments. This is highly beneficial for working professionals who wish to upskill and accelerate their career paths.

It is seen that students who are finishing undergraduate degree take the CMA Exam and then complete the certification process once you have qualified the work experience criteria.

These days most of the US CMA coaching institutes provide live online classes which add flexibility to this program.  CFO NeXt is one such premier institute in India offering live interactive online classes, having a pass rate of 85% as compared to worldwide pass-percentage for CMA US is 45%.

In contrast, a full-time MBA course has two years of duration. This may extend if you plan to complete the course through distance or part-time learning. Thus earning a US CMA certification has a competitive advantage on completing the course faster than an MBA degree.

US CMA course fee vs. MBA course fee

The course fee is an important criterion largely due to ever-rising tuition rates. In general, an MBA from a premium B-School costs INR 20 lakhs to INR 50 lakhs. Even a Tie2- 2 institution in India charges a minimum of 5 lakhs to 8 lakhs.

In the case of US CMA course fee, one needs to spend a maximum of INR 1.5 lakh (inclusive all) to be a US CMA. But the interesting thing is that one gets 5 to 10 times more exposure in the international job market and MNCs within India being a US CMA compared to an MBA Finance. Thus US CMA course fees are affordable.

Salary after US CMA course vs. MBA

CMA US is in great demand in all sectors. CMAs are also being recruited by MNCs like Accenture, Amazon, Deloitte, and so on for managerial positions.

The salary structure of an MBA professional depends on the brand name of the business schools from where you attain your MBA degree. It is found that there is a high pay gap between students who complete degrees from premier institutes like IIM, ISB, and IIFT compared to a tier 2 college. The truth lies in the fact that many top companies recruit students from only these top business schools.

Typically, an average Indian passing out from a tier 2 college gets an annual package staying from INR 3 lakh, which may vary depending on location and companies.

CMA vs MBA – How Do You Choose?

As you move forward in your business career, it’s important to adopt a growth mindset and constantly be on the lookout for ways to improve as an individual and in your career. Both the CMA credential and an MBA degree can get you there, but one may help you jump on your desired career path more efficiently than the other.

The best way to evaluate the CMA vs MBA and which one is right for you is to assess your career goals and your personal resources and decide which credential will help you achieve your goals with the resources you have. The CMA credential can get you very far in finance and accounting roles within a variety of organizations, while the MBA might be more suited to specific career tracks, such as sustainability or healthcare. By considering your career goals and what you need to do to achieve them, you’ll have a better understanding of which path is the right one for you.


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