CFA Vs MBA: What’s the Difference?

The finance sector has now become a sought career option for students who can understand how money works and fluctuate in the entire world. Being a part of this sector is not an easy task. It requires years of experience and high-level relevant knowledge. Plus, it requires a valid certificate or degree that clearly shows that you are being able to work as a professional. Due to the rapid development of the finance field, we have professional certification courses and degree today that are dedicated to the finance sector. An MBA in finance and CFA are some of those popular gateways which are always in demand. Both offer a wide array of job opportunities to the aspirants who aspire to be a part of the career path after pursuing an MBA in Finance or CFA certification course. CFA and MBA programmes have national and international importance as well. But sometimes it might be confusing, which one is better? So, here we have listed some key aspects that will guide you to whom to choose.

CFA Vs MBA in finance – About

What is CFA?

The CFA is a professional programme that offered a valid licence to candidates who aspires to become a Financial Analyst or any other similar professional. The full form of CFA is, Chartered Financial Analyst given by the CFA Institute (previously the AIMR, Association for Investment Management and Research). The CFA is a globally approved professional designation and is accepted in over 170 countries worldwide. The course provides an in-depth study of the concepts of finance and financial analytics. Candidates will be equipped with world-class knowledge and trained under the supervision of professionals. It enhances the candidate’s technical knowledge and skills in the field.

What is MBA?

The full form of MBA is Master of Business Administration, which is a professional degree course. It offers various specializations, Finance is one of them. An MBA in finance is focusing on the aspects of accounts and finance of companies or organizations. Candidates are trained to achieve the specific financial objectives of the firm in which they wish to work. It also involves deep knowledge of stock markets and financial models. The main purpose of this programme is to provide in-depth conceptual knowledge regarding subjects and how they can be applied to the real trading and financial world.


CFA Vs MBA in finance – Duration of Programme

Duration of CFA

The CFA is a professional certification course that does not have a clear duration. The minimum duration of CFA is 2-year but it can extend up to 4 years according to the performance of the student. Sometimes, candidates can clear CFA in their first attempt on the behalf of their performance and knowledge.

Duration of MBA (Finance)

MBA or Master of Business Administration in Finance is a full-time 2-year PG level degree course. The duration of the course is divided into 4 semesters including 1-year internship. It may vary from institute to institute.

CFA Vs MBA in Finance – Offering Institutions / Colleges / Universities

CFA Offering Institution – The CFA is considered equal to a master’s degree. It gets worldwide validation and offers by the AIMR which is an American based CFA institute.

MBA finance Offering Institutions/ colleges – It is a postgraduate degree course offered by various popular B-schools in India. Some popular institute is the ISB, XLRI, FMS New Delhi, IIMS and many others. Infect, the MBA in finance is offering by international and foreign institutes/ universities. It depends on candidates which institute they can pick.

CFA Vs MBA – Admission Process

CFA Admission Process

Candidates, who are willing to appear for the CFA exam, must apply for the CFA course. The admission process of CFA is too short and simple. After being eligible aspirants have to register themselves on the official website of CFA institute or ICFAI. Then appear for the CFA Level I. Students can apply for this level before September.

MBA Admission Process

Admission to MBA in Finance either based on the national level entrance exams or state level entrance exams. The exams including CAT, MAT, CMAT, NMAT, XAT etc. are one of those exams that accepted in almost every private and public institute. Candidates need to qualify entrance exam and secure the minimum percentile. Shortlisted candidates will be called for PI rounds after clearing the preliminary stage. After successful completion of all the rounds, candidates will get admission to top B-school or Business institutes.

CFA Vs MBA – Difficulty Level

CFA – Over the past few years, the competition level is high for the CFA exam. Every year, thousands of students will apply for this programme. The CFA all three levels require more than 300 hours of study and professional experience.

MBA – As compare to CFA, the passing chance of students in MBA is a little bit high. Certain B-schools have a 100% attendance system, candidates need to follow it. Apart from this, they must have to attend seminars and regular lectures, go for corporate visits, submit presentations and join group discussions.

CFA Vs MBA – Eligibility Criteria

CFA Eligibility Criteria

  • Candidates must have completed their Bachelor’s programme with any stream from any recognized university.
  • Apart from academic qualification, candidates need to attain 4-year professional work experience in the finance/investment field or any other relevant field.

MBA Eligibility Criteria

  • An aspirant who wants to pursue MBA in finance, need to complete their Bachelor’s programme in any stream or equivalent from any recognized university.
  • Candidates should secure at least 50% of marks in graduation degree.

CFA Vs MBA – Exam Format and Syllabus

CFA Format – The CFA exam has three-level includes Level I, Level II and Level III. All three levels are conducted in two sessions namely morning and afternoon.

  1. Level I:The level I question paper involves a total of 240 MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions). Each session has consisted of 120 questions. Candidates have a total of 3 hours to crack each session. The passing rate of level I is 43 percentile.
  2. Level II: CFA Level II is offering a total of 10 to 15 vignettes based on 120 MCQs. The duration for each session is 3 hours and in between this duration candidates must solve a total of 60 questions. The passing rate of level II is 45 percentile.
  3. Level III: This level also has a total of 8-14 vignettes supporting response questions for the morning ad 10 to 15 vignettes supporting 60 MCQs for evening sessions.( duration- 3 hours). The passing rate of level III is 56%.

MBA in finance Exam Format –CAT is the common entrance exam accepted by every Business institute for offering admission to MBA in finance. The duration of this exam is 3-hours. It includes a total of three major sections namely: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation and Quantitative Ability. To get admission to top-tier B-school, a candidate needs to clear all stages and secure the minimum percentile.

CFA and MBA Core Subjects:

CFA – Well CFA covers many topics that are related to finance and investment. Here are some core subjects studying throughout the CFA programme.

  1. Ethics in Investment Portfolio Management
  2. Financial Strategy
  3. Financial Reporting Analysis
  4. Financial Strategy

MBA in Finance – The MBA is a degree course where candidates will learn a wide range of topics related to investment, marketing, finance and analysis. Some of the major topics include:

  1. Financial Planning
  2. Advance Marketing
  3. Hedge Fund Management
  4. Global Finance
  5. Securities Analysis etc.

CFA Vs MBA – Admission and Registration Fee

Application Fee for CFA – If you are registering for the CFA the first time, you need to pay one time registration fee for getting enrolled in CFA. The enrolment cost is around USD 450 ( approx. INR 30,000 according to Indian Currency). After completing this process, you need to pay additional fees for Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. It depends on you when you will decide to register. Overall, the CFA registration fee is divided into three parts i.e.

  1. Early Registration fees – USD 700
  2. Standard Registration fees – USD 1000
  3. Late Registration fees – USD 1450

MBA Finance – The admission fees may vary from institute to institute. MBA Colleges in India charge more than Rs 17, 00,000.

CFA Vs MBA – Job Roles and Career Opportunities

For CFA – After doing the CFA course, professional can easily get top-notch opportunities from the investment and finance sector. CFA certification holder will be getting hired at the following position:

  • Financial Analyst
  • Equity Research Analyst
  • Credit Analyst
  • Accountant or Auditor
  • Consultant
  • Equity Research Associate
  • Senior Financial Analyst
  • Corporate Financial Analyst

For MBA (finance) – On successful completion of MBA (finance), candidates can seek a job at both private and public sector at following positions:

  • Corporate Controllers
  • Accounting Manager
  • Cash Managers
  • Insurance and Risk Managers
  • Credit Manages and Specialists
  • Investment Bankers
  • Finance Officers and Treasures


CFA designation is extremely valued in the finance, investment and banking sector. On the other hand, opt. an MBA degree in finance is also very beneficial. Both financial paths are similar in the term of career growth and are different in the term of difficulty level, cost and salary. In CFA, you will have to crack all three levels while the MBA programme requires regular classes, attendance and experiences. At last, it depends on you which you want to pursue.

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