Difference between ACCA and CIMA

ACCA and CIMA qualification are both qualifications of accountancy which are highly regarded by employers across the globe. Both the qualification has rewarding career in spheres of finance, audit, budgeting, revenue and taxation, industry, commerce, banks and so on. The professionals of both qualifications work in local as well as multinational companies and setups.

What is the difference between ACCA and CIMA? This question haunts the minds of students intending to pursue studies and career in accountancy. This article highlights all the differences in the both qualifications as well as extends guidance about choosing ACCA or CIMA for their academic career.

The differences are as follows:

ACCA program is administered by ACCA, UK. CIMA Program is administered by CIMA, UK.
ACCA Exams are conducted by ACCA, UK. CIMA Exams are conducted by CIMA, UK.
ACCA has 14 papers.

CIMA has 14 papers and 3 case-study exam.
The first three papers of ACCA can be attempted as Computer-based exam (objective type). The remaining 11 papers have paper-based exam (written and descriptive type). All papers of CIMA can be attempted as computer-based exam (objective type)

ACCA program does not include gaining any practical work experience.

Practical work experience for 3 years is a compulsory part of CIMA. After qualifying all exams of CIMA, student has to gain practical work experience.
The paper-based exams of ACCA are held in March, June, September and December. The first three papers of ACCA can attempted as Computer-based exam in any month of the year.  Each paper of CIMA has a computer-based assessment and can be attempted in any month of the year. The case-study exams are held in February, May, August, and November.
Eligibility for admission in ACCA
  • A-Level with 2 passes and O-Level with 3 passes in subject including English and Mathematics
  • or American Higher School Certificate with alteast 50% marks
  • or Graduation, B.A, BSc, B.Com or equivalent bachelor qualification
  • or Foundation Diploma

Eligibility for admission in CIMA
  • O-Level or Matriculations
  • or A-Level or Intermediate
  • or Under-graduation or graduation degree in any discipline (i.e. Bachelors or Master degree)
  • or ACCA or MBA degree – these degrees makes you eligible for fast tract entry to CIMA by giving you exemptions from the first 11 papers of CIMA and enrolling you direct into the strategic level of CIMA.
  • or other professional qualification – for other relevant professional qualification students are given exemption from some papers according to the rules devised by CIMA.
Exemptions of Papers in ACCA
Students, seeking admission in ACCA, are given exemptions from upto nine papers of ACCA depending upon the relevancy of student’s past qualification such as MBA, M.Com and so on.

Exemptions of Paper in CIMA
Students, seeking admission in CIMA, are given exemption from papers of CIMA. Students having MBA or ACCA are given exemptions of first 11 papers and are directly enrolled into strategic level of CIMA. Similarly, for other relevant qualifications some exemptions can be availed.

ACCA qualification is administered by Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA). Its head office is in London UK. Its national offices are operating in various countries.

CIMA qualification is administered by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). Its head office is in London, UK. Its national offices are functioning in various countries.

Tuition for ACCA and CIMA is offered by colleges in various countries.

   Differences in Program structure

Program Structure of ACCA is as follows:

F 1 Accountant in Business 2 Hours
F 2 Management Accounting 2 Hours
F 3 Financial Accounting 2 Hours
F 4 Corporate and Business Law 3 Hours
F 4 Performance Management 3 Hours
F 6 Taxation 3 Hours
F 7 Financial Reporting 3 Hours
F 8 Audit and Assurance 3 Hours
F 9 Financial Management 3 Hours
P 1 Governance, Risk and Ethics 3 Hours
P 2 Corporate Reporting 3 Hours
P 3 Business Analysis 3 Hours
Any 2 optional papers to be select from following
P 4 Advanced Financial Management 3 Hours
P 5 Advanced Performance Management 3 Hours
P 6 Advanced Taxation 3 Hours
P 7 Advanced Audit and Assurance 3 Hours

Program Structure of CIMA is as follows:

Certificate in Business Accounting
BA1 Fundamentals of Business Economics
BA2 Fundamentals of Management Accounting
BA3 Fundamentals of Financial Accounting
BA4 Fundamentals of Ethics, Corporate Governance and Business Law
Operational Level
E1 Organisational Management
P1 Management Accounting
F1 Financial Reporting and Taxation
  Integrated Case Study
Management Level
E2 Project and Relationship Management
P2 Advanced Management Accounting
F2 Advanced Financial Reporting
  Integrated Case Study
Strategic Level
E3 Strategic Management
P3 Risk Management
F3 Financial Strategy
  Integrated Case Study
3 Years of practical work experience

   Fee structure - Difference

The fee structure of ACCA is as follows:

Description Fee for other countries
Registration Fee £ 79                  
Annual Subscription Fee £ 95
Paper fee (Fundamental Knowledge) £ 72  per paper          
Paper fee (Fundamental Skills)  £ 97  per paper
Paper fee (Professional Level)  £  121 per paper            

The fee structure of CIMA is as follows:

Description Fee
Registration Fee (once) £ 77
Annual Subscription fee                £ 108
Exam Fee
Certificate in Business Accounting objective tests (per exam) £ 64
Operational and management level objective tests (per exam) £ 77
Operational and management level case study exam (per exam)                £ 126
Strategic level case study exam £ 166