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What is CIMA? - Course Syllabus, Pattern, Duration, Fees

What is CIMA? - Course Syllabus, Pattern, Duration, Fees

Edited By Marar Sumeet Sudarshan | Updated on Jul 17, 2023 04:03 PM IST

What is CIMA? CIMA is a professional body of Management Accountants established in 1919 in the UK. The CIMA full form stands for Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and since 2017 it has been collaborating with American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Today, the professional body is referred to as AICPA & CIMA. This body offers a qualification known as the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) which is considered the highest level of qualification and proficiency for Management Accountants. It’s important to understand the CIMA course details including the different levels and eligibility criteria before enrolling for the CMA course. Read the full article to know what CIMA is and all other relevant details of the CMA course such as fees, career opportunities in finance after one completes CMA.

What is Management Accounting?

As the name indicates management accounting is a combination of accounting and management. Management accountants are finance experts but their goal is to help the management take effective decisions based on the financial data. They have a multipurpose role.

They interpret financial data and prepare budgets and reports and to help management make decisions. A traditional accountant’s role, on the other hand, is limited to just finance and working with financial data mainly from a compliance perspective rather than a management perspective.

CGMA Professional Qualification Course Details

The CIMA Professional Qualification course syllabus for CGMA has been designed with an objective of imparting finance, accounting and business skills relevant in the digital age to improve the employability of the learners.

The CGMA course is divided into three levels:

  • Operational Level

  • Management Level

  • Strategic Level

To complete the CGMA qualification, and use the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation, candidates need to:

  • Fulfil the entry requirements of the professional level qualification.

  • Study for and complete the relevant professional level assessments, culminating in the Strategic Case Study Exam.

  • Undergo three years of relevant practical experience, which can be gained before, during and/or after studies.

CGMA Syllabus Structure

There are 9 subjects which are organised into 3 pillars and 3 levels in the CGMA syllabus

Three Pillars

The three pillars define the three areas of knowledge which the CGMA syllabus covers:

  • Enterprise Pillar: The Enterprise Pillar is concerned with understanding the finance function in the context of use of data and technology. It examines business models as well as the management of people and projects in order to accomplish organisational objectives. The focus of this pillar is on the creation and successful application of strategy.

  • Performance Pillar: The performance pillar is concerned with ensuring strategy is realistic and supervising its implementation by using tools and techniques of management accounting and risk management. It deals with constructing budgets, making decisions about prices and capital expenditure, managing costs and performance. The pillar also covers digital costing along with traditional costing techniques

  • Financial Pillar: This financial pillar is concerned with developing an understanding of the regulatory framework including compliance and reporting requirements and integrated reporting. It focuses on developing the learner’s ability to prepare and analyse complex financial statements to show the true financial picture of the organisation. It covers principles of taxation, tax implications of financing decisions and devising a financial strategy in the context of organisational and enterprise pillars.

Three Levels

Candidates move from the Operational Level to the Management Level and finally to the Strategic Level. At each level students study subjects across the three pillars.

  • Operational Level: The Operational Level has a short term focus and is concerned with the implementation of decisions. One would learn to work with others in the organisation and use appropriate data and technology to translate medium-term decisions into short-term actionable plans.

  • Management Level: The Management Level focuses on converting long-term decisions into medium-term plans. Candidates will be able to use data and relevant technology for organisations. It develops the ability of students to progressively identify, classify and evaluate various risks to an organisation through use of data and relevant technology, and manage these risks through internal controls

  • Strategic Level: The strategic level is concerned with the long term. This level intends to develop the ability to support organisational leaders in crafting strategy, evaluating and managing potential risks and arranging financial resources to implement long term strategies.

Overview of the CGMA Syllabus

Given below is an overview of the CGMA syllabus. There are 9 subjects in total and case studies in each of the three levels. Candidates also need to complete a three year practical experience requirement in order to earn the CGMA certification and become a member of the CIMA.


Subjects (% Weightage in exam)

Enterprise Pillar

Performance Pillar

Financial Pillar

Operational Level

  • Implementation of decisions

  • Translate medium-term decisions into short-term actionable plans; then report on performance

Managing Finance in a Digital World

Role of the finance

Function (20%)

Technology in a digital world (20%)

Data and information in

a digital world (20%)

Shape and structure

of the finance function (20%)

Finance interacting with

the organisation (20%)

Management Accounting

Cost Accounting for decision and control (30%)

Budgeting and budgetary control (25%)

Short-term commercial

Decision-making (30%)

Risk and uncertainty in short term (15%)

Financial Reporting

Regulatory environment of financial reporting (10%)

Financial Statements (45%)

Principles of taxation (20%)

Managing cash and working capital (25%)

Operational Case Study Exam

Diploma in Management Accounting (CIMA Dip MA) upon completion of Operational Level

Management Level

  • Monitor implementation of decisions

  • Monitor, manage and analyse performance.

Managing Performance

Business models and value creation (30%)

Managing people performance(40%)

Managing projects (30%)

Advanced Management


Managing the costs of creating value (20%)

Capital investment decision making (35%)

Managing and controlling the performance of organisational units (30%)

Risk and control (15%)

Advanced Financial


Financing capital projects (15%)

Financial reporting standards (25%)

Group accounts (25%)

Integrated reporting (10%)

Working with financial statements (25%)

Management Case Study Exam

Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting (Adv Dip MA)

Strategic Level

Strategic Management

Risk Management

Financial Strategy

  • Make strategic decisions.

  • Formulate and create strategy whilst managing the associated risks.

The strategy process (15%)

Analysing the organisational ecosystem (20%)

Generating strategic

Options (15%)

Making strategic Choices (15%)

Strategic control (20%)

Digital Strategy (15%)

Enterprise Risk (25%)

Strategic Risk (25%)

Internal Controls (25%)

Cyber Risks (25%)

Financial Policy Decisions (15%)

Sources of Long Term Funds (25%)

Financial Risks (20%)

Business Valuation (40%)

Strategic Case Study Exam

Practical Experience Requirement (PER) of three years

AWARD: Membership of The Chartered Institute of Management

Accountants (ACMA/FCMA) and the CGMA designation

CGMA Examinations Details

The exams for the nine subjects are objective type test papers that test the candidate’s grasp on the syllabus. Each level of the CGMA Professional Qualification ends with a case study exam that integrates the knowledge, skills and techniques learnt in that level across the three pillars

CGMA Exam Pattern


Objective Test


No. of questions

Type of Questions

Exam Mode

Operational Level / Management Level/ Strategic Level

90 Minutes


Multiple choice

Multiple response

Fill in the blank (number entry)

Drag and drop

Hot Spot


Case Study:

The examination is three hours long. A 15-minute tutorial is available before to the start of the examination to allow candidates to familiarise

themselves with the test driver..

The examination has four sections (tasks), which are each 45 minutes long. All sections are equally weighted. Candidates may finish a section early and move on to the next but cannot return to previous sections in the time remaining.

The examination requires constructed, written responses from candidates in the format of a range of business communications (for example, emails, memos, reports, briefing notes)

The Objective Tests are available on demand at over 5,000 Pearson VUE assessment centres worldwide or online from home or office. Candidates can book their tests up to 48 hours prior to the testing date, subject to availability. Candidates would receive feedback on performance in each content area of the examination in the form of a proficient/ not proficient rating.

The case study exams are conducted four times a year - February, May, August, and November

Entry Requirements for CIMA

Graduates in finance or business are eligible to register for CIMA Professional Qualifications beginning from the Operational level. However, persons without any finance knowledge or work experience must first enrol for a Certificate in Business Accounting

Certificate in Business Accounting

The CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting acts as an entry point to the Professional Qualification and also serves as a stand-alone qualification to those who are interested in understanding the basics of accounting and business. This qualification is closely related to the three learning pillars of the Professional Qualification.

The CBA is meant for candidates with little or no accounting experience. Once candidates complete both qualifications (CBA and Professional Qualification) and qualify for membership, they will be awarded the CGMA designation

Eligibility for CBA:

This course is open to any interested candidate. It acts as a stand-alone business and accounting qualification and a launchpad for the Professional Qualification for those without a relevant degree or other accounting qualification.

Candidates require a good level of mathematics and english. There are four subjects in the CBA exam. For each subject, it will be an online exam of two hours. The exam is available on demand throughout the year.

BA 1

Fundamentals of Business Economics

BA 2

Fundamentals of Management Accounting

BA 3

Fundamentals of Financial Accounting

BA 4

Fundamentals of Ethics, Corporate Governance, and Business Law

Also Read: CPA Salary in India - Job Opportunities, Roles & Responsibilities

CIMA Fees Structure

Following is the fee structure for pursuing the CIMA course. The cost includes registration fee, annual subscription fee,

Registration Fee

Registration (One time payment)

GBP 95


GBP 95

Subscription Fee

Existing candidates must make sure to pay the subscription fee before March 31 each year to prevent expiration


GBP 130

Candidates who have passed Strategic Case Study exam

GBP 300

New candidate (first year's subscription fee)


CIMA Exam Fees

CIMA’s CGMA exams fees are based on a tiered structure with an objective to improve access worldwide. The three tiers are are as follows:

Tier 1: Western Europe, Australia, Singapore, USA and Canada

Tier 2: Rest of the world

Tier 3: Sub Saharan Africa

Exam prices from 1 January 2023

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Certificate in Business Accounting

Objective Tests (per exam)




Professional Qualification

Operational Level Objective Tests (per exam) 




Operational Level Case Study




Management Level Objective Test




Management Level Case Study




Strategic Level Objective Test




Strategic Level Case Study




Certificate in Business Accounting over one year

Given below is the total cost of studying for Certificate in Business Accounting over one years in a Tier 2 market assuming one has no exemptions, clears the exam at the first attempt and is studying through the official study portal - and has purchased official CMA study text.

CIMA registration costs

One-off student candidate registration (includes first-year candidate subscription)

GBP 95

Annual candidate subscription over one year


4× Certificate in Business Accounting exams

GBP 400


GBP 495

CIMA Study costs

4 x CIMA Study Prime modules

GBP 1,000

4 x CIMA Study texts

GBP 140


GBP 1,140

Total costs over one year:

GBP 1,635

CIMA’s CGMA Professional Qualification over three years

Given below is the total cost of studying for CMA over three years in a Tier 2 market assuming one has no exemptions, entered at the operational level, clears the exam at the first attempt and is studying through the official study portal - and has purchased official CMA study text

CIMA registration costs

One-time candidate registration (includes first-year candidate subscription)

GBP 95

Annual candidate subscription over three years

GBP 260

9× Objective Tests and 3× Case Study Exams

GBP 2,127


GBP 2,482

CIMA Study costs

9x CIMA Study Prime modules

GBP 2,340

3× CIMA Study case study modules

GBP 975

12× CIMA Study texts

GBP 438


GBP 3,753

Total costs over three years

GBP 6,235

Given below is the total cost of studying for Certificate in Business Accounting and Professional Qualification over five years in a Tier 2 market assuming one has no exemptions, entered at the operational level, clears the exam at the first attempt and is studying through the official study portal - and has purchased official CMA study text

CIMA registration and exam costs

One-time candidate registration (includes first-year candidate subscription)

GBP 95

Annual candidate subscription over five years

GBP 520

4× Certificate in Business Accounting exams

GBP 400

9× Objective Tests and 3× Case Study Exams (Professional Qualification)

GBP 2,127


GBP 3,142

CIMA Study costs

4 x CIMA Study Prime modules (Certificate in Business Accounting)

GBP 1,000

9 x CIMA Study Prime modules (Professional Qualification)

GBP 2,340

3 x CIMA Study case study modules (Professional Qualification)

GBP 975

12 x CIMA Study texts

GBP 438


GBP 4,753

Total costs over three years

GBP 7,895

Career Prospects for Management Accountants

Management Accountants perform important roles within an organisation. Given below are some significant roles they play in a corporate

Business Leaders: Being a management accountant will help one comprehend how the company operates. Management Accountants thoroughly understand their company model, strategic framework, and competitive position. These qualities make them highly suitable for business leadership positions.

Advisors: Management Accountants deal with data keeping a close watch on the future trends. They act as advisors and enable businesses to adapt to future changes. They have a tendency to innovate and improve.

Forecasting and Decision Making : Management Accountants gather information and analyse data to identify trends and make decisions. They will work with both quantitative and qualitative data (financial and non financial data) to see the holistic picture and drive the business.

Given below are some of the job profiles that are open to CIMA professionals.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO): The CFO is the top finance person in any organisation and is entrusted to take strategic financial decisions that contribute to business growth. The CFO will be looking after financial planning, operations, and risk management

  • Management Consultants: They advise companies and help them implement strategic decisions that will drive business growth. They are well aware of the nitty gritty of the business and good project management skills to implement those changes.

  • Finance Business Partner: Finance Business Partners possess not only financial expertise but they are also good communicators and work with various departments. Using their analysis and insights on financial data and communicating this data to various departments they help in building consensus and implement strategic decision making at the organisational level.

  • Business Analysts: They possess good analytical skills and are responsible for building underlying financial models that support management decision making.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

1. What is the full form of CIMA?

CIMA stands for Chartered Institute of Management Accountants

2. How many levels are there in the CGMA

There are three levels in CGMA - Operational Level, Management level,and Strategic Level

3. How many subjects are there in the CIMA Professional Qualification?

There are nine subjects in the CIMA professional qualification

4. How many subjects are there in the Certificate in Business Accounting?

There are four papers in the Certificate in Business Accounting.


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