Despite the most famous business degrees out there today are the MBA and DBA degrees, that does not mean that they are the only business designations out there. This assumption could be anything but true, however alongside these prestigious higher education certificates and a great example of these designations is the CMA.

Today we will explore what exactly is a CMA, the differences between it and an MBA degree, and which of both options or academic degrees would be the best for you. So get comfortable and get ready to know what exactly a CMA certificate is and the core difference between the CMA & MBA

One of the best ways to start knowing something is defining it and understanding what it means and that is why we will start by defining what an MBA degree. As per, an MBA is an academic master of business administration that endows its students with technical, managerial & practical management skills.

There are several formats for an MBA program such as part-time, full-time, executive, and non-executive and dual degree MBAs.

Now for the CMA, Wikipedia defines the CMA or the Certified Management Accountant certificate as a Professional Certification credential that combines the three fields of management accounting & financial accounting.

The certification acts as a testament that its holder possesses a deep understanding & knowledge in financial planning, analysis, control, decision support & professional ethics. The certificate is US based and is solely provided by a U.S based organization IMA.

2) MBA vs CMA, the differences

Despite the inherent difference between the MBA and the CMA, they share the same common end goals So now that you know what exactly each degree is it’s time we go a little deeper and discuss the core differences between these two certificates, so here they are.

Preliminary Requirements

One of the core differences between the MBA vs CMA as two professional designations is the pre-requirements needed to be able to pursue them. For example, when it comes to the CMA, your ability to take the CMA exam before completing any form of undergraduate degree especially since there aren’t any specific courses you need to finish before your examination. It is worth noticing however that you still need to fulfill that requirement.

In the case of an MBA degree, an undergraduate degree from an accredited university is always almost a must alongside some prerequisite courses.

Professional Experience

To earn the CMA degree a minimum of 2 years of non-preliminary professional applied work experience need to be achieved before getting the certification. The work experience must involve financial management and management accounting.

As for MBA degrees, some of them can require 2 or three-plus years of actual work experience, alongside a qualifying letter from a superior or other courses.

Test Model

The examination process for the CMA is two-part multiple-choice questions and an essay that covers matters about the fields of financial planning & accounting.

To get accepted in an MBA program most likely you will need to take on a graduate management admission test ( GMAT ), which in turn, plays a huge role in determining the business school you get accepted into, therefore affecting your professional network and company and job prospects.

Cost Counts

The cost structure for the CMA is different than that of the MBA degree, as we will clarify straight away. The costs you will incur if you choose the CMA as your certificate of choice will be a membership fee to the institute of management accountant (IMA) which can be anywhere from 39$ to 245$, the CMA entrance fee which ranges from 188$ to 250$, Exam fees that can range from 311$ to 415$.

The MBA degree however unlike the CMA involves the incurring of a monumental cost which might differ according to the grade of the business school and could reach up to 100,000$

As for ways to reduce the cost, for full coverage of the CMA examination cost a professor’s recommendation would be more than enough to earn that full coverage. In the case of an MBA degree, this would take the form of an employer-funded program.

The time cost

Unlike the MBA, the CMA can be fully conducted on a self-study basis with your passage of the exam, and how long you take to finish the CMA is fully dependent on your pace and drive. As for the MBA, you will need to set your priorities and manage your MBA program schedule alongside your other obligations.


Due to the nature and difference in objectives, how beneficial the degree will be for you is fully dependent on the radius and depth of your interest in the different fields of business.

If you’re interested in the general fundamentals of business, pursuing an MBA would be the better option as it’s more relevant to the general aspects of managing a business alongside different marketing practices. The CMA however focuses more on the fields of Accounting & Finance.

If you’re seeking to specialize in a specific field and that field happens to be accounting or finance then the CMA would be a safe bet. If you’re not however and you want to specialize in marketing, engineering, entrepreneurship supply chains, or other fields MBA programs offer a multitude of specializations you can choose from.

3) MBA or CMA or both

One of the most important questions you might be asking yourself now is which designation should I go for, the MBA, the CMA, or both the MBA vs CMA. to answer that question we will need to have a look at the earning potential, career paths & how it fits in with you long and short term career goals.

in terms of employment prospects, getting a CMA to obtain a pay raise, promotion, or changing your position altogether might be viewed as an objective process and something that all applicants need to do. For MBA degrees, the value of it is mainly derived from the granting university of business school.

For those of you seeking an international position, the CMA holds up fine in this case. The main reason behind this is that it’s offered in many different countries and in those countries local languages, which makes it great for those seeking a financial or accounting career abroad.

On the MBA side, foreign employers outside of the U.S or Europe might not even know the school from which you’ve earned your MBA and will therefore not view it as a plus on your resume.

Last but not least in terms of climbing the corporate ladder and pursuing a managerial or executive position, both the MBA vs CMA will help you do that and show that your ready to bear that responsibility, with the MBA better suiting those seeking a role relevant to people management.

In conclusion, the best person to determine which of these two degrees is the best for you is essentially yourself as you’re fully aware of your career objectives, goals, progression & other perspectives. We hope this piece has been beneficial & helped you nake your mind about which ones the best for you.