Using CIMA to get a degree

Replies : 30


I did everything the wrong way around.

Left school, got a job, bought a house qualified in CIMA.

Realised don't like being an accountant - should have thought properly before being a stubborn 17 year old that didn't want to leave their friends when parents moved away. (Hindsight is wonderful)

Anyhoo, despite feeling realtively proud of the fact that I am a passed finalist (I really will do that PER one day) by the age of 21 - i am quite miserable. Call it odd as I probably would but I feel a bit unchallenged, overpaid and unfulfilled - would much rather get paid a pittance to teach small children (primary school).

The problem here is that you need a degree to get onto a pgce - would rather not go to uni and THEN have to do pgce.

Have read about 1 year courses for people who have completed managerial level, so that is one option but I have already done all of the exams - so have read about the masters degrees you can get using CIMA as an exemption.

Is there an inbetween where I could just do a dissertation and get an undergraduate degree?!

Please help! I appreciate that most of you actually want to be accountants, I just don't like it.



From what I have gathered, CIMA is an MSc equivalent.

Using CIMA to get a degree

Hi Elisha, I have the same sort of issue although I have no problem with accountancy. I decided for personal reasons to go straight out to work and then focused on my accountancy training. I want to get a degree to make myself more marketable and to possibly get my MBA (few years down the line). I'm having trouble finding any way I can do this and get a recognised degree withough having to commit to potentially another 3/4 years of study. I honestly can't face that at the moment. If anyone has any advice it would be welcome.


It is easier getting fast track Masters' degree, but if you need first degree, I do not Know if the Oxfordbridge University (UK) can be of assistance. I teach ACCA programme, and I am aware that when an ACCA student completes the Fundamental stage, he/she could do a desertation and obtain Bsc Hon in Accountancy, may be they could allow you for a desertation. I like lecturing but I cannot teach in a university because I have no university degree (first degree) hence I face similar problem. May be CIMA could negotiate with Oxfordbridge the similar arrangement that ACCA has been able to strike.

CIMA needs an ACCA Oxford Brookes degree bolt-on

As Robert has mentioned ACCA has an option when studying to write a dissertation and gain an Oxford Brookes BA/BSc (?) this is not open to CIMA as I checked a few years ago. CIMA really need to look into this option for non graduate students as having a degree is becoming essential in the UK. Last time I checked the quickest option was to get an MSc from University of Glamorgan. This course is often advertised in CIMA's FM.This will allow you to get an MSc in Accounting in about a year it's a combination of weekend residential and a dissertation. I did this a few years ago and I think the cost was about £4k. CIMA may be equivalent to an MSc and is far more challenging than the above course but these days it's becoming essential to have a 'degree' to tick the requirments for agencies/recruiters. Glamorgan also do some other MSc's such as marketing but not sure if you get the same exemptions as the Accounting one and not sure whether you need your letters or whether passed finalist is sufficient.

Undergraduate degree to tick all boxes

I am in the same situation have completed my CIMA studies am now an associate member and writing my final dissertation for an MBA. I still need a first degree but no university will offer it at the moment as they say i am taking a step back as i already am over qualified to study a first degree. I feel i need to get one so as to tick all the boxes as well i hope CIMA considers negotiating on our behalf if we are over qualified maybe we can just write the final project and get the first degree . There is monies to be made if universities consider this


"I feel i need to get one so as to tick all the boxes as well i hope CIMA considers negotiating on our behalf if we are over qualified maybe we can just write the final project and get the first degree . There is monies to be made if universities consider this "


 So you all want a change to be made that means that people who have completed CIMA but do not have a degee suddenly get put on the same level as those who have completed CIMA and already have a degree? Well that would be nice wouldn't it? All that University studying, tuition fees and debt that I, and many others like me went through, can be bypassed by signing up to some dodgy university in the middle of nowhere that gives degrees away just by signing the application form.


Don't worry I'm sure you'll all get what you want. This is modern Britain, if something is difficult to get simply complain and you'll get whatever you want

Top up degree options

You can refer to the link below from CIMA which shows you the degrees that you can apply for giving exemptions units - sometimes up to 180 units which could be up to half the whole degree. Otherwise being CIMA qualified (some UNI's recognise the managerial level as an HND equivalent) you can opt for 1 year top up degrees (taught or distance learning) from recognised UK Universities such as: University of Northampton University of Sunderland University of Essex hope this helps Faith

CIMA via degree

In response to Anonymous, there are various ways that students choose to do CIMA, direct after school, after a Uni degree etc. Anyone doing a relevant degree probably gets exempt half of CIMA's exams (exemptions should cut both ways!). Prior to about 1997 one had to sit 4 subjects together and obtain an overall mark of at least 200 getting below 40 in a single paper meant a fail and all subjects to be repeated. Many members myself included had to do that but I don't hear anyone asking to reinstate that lest current students are having it to easy? In many cases (not all) a non relevant degree adds nothing to ones ability to do an accountancy role, but the overqualified UK/global markets now dicate that a degree is requirement along with being an ACMA. If a job advert required a degree and CIMA and two idenitcal candidates applied but one had a degree in photography/media studies and the other did not guess who would get an interview!

CIMA via degree

...but if that person had a 2.1 in media but the other had a 2.2 in accountancy I wouldn't be surprised if the employer chose the 2.1! Nowadays people choose the easy degree and modules at uni and get a 2.1 as that is what employers only care about; not what you know, which is a shame I went on a graduate assessment day and was meeting other people trying to get on the finance scheme, which required a min 2.1. Candidates with 2.1s in Media Studies, Agriculture and random sciences were there, and I was standing there with an Economics degree thinking why I went to lectures on econometrics, accountnacy and latin american macroeconomic policy, when I could have been sowing seeds or reading heat magazine

Over qualification

The trouble these days is as the above posts indicate is that there is an over supply of accountants in the UK market. I used to hear comments that after a few years it didn't matter which accountancy body you had chosen etc. (I would strongly disagree), however a combination of the government stressing the need for 50%+ to go to University along with perhaps an over marketing of the accountancy professions (all bodies) means there are too many bodies to go round. I was recently asked for a role what A level grades I had got which was over 20 years ago! An MBA is nice and I take my hat off to anyone who has one, however whilst it can be great to allow one to change careers if you remain in finance has it really been worth the time/money etc? When some plumbers make more than accountants and you have part qualfied accountants working in AP you do have to wonder sometimes?

Degree links database


You are right to be proud of what you've achieved so far. Don't worry about having a crisis of confidence in the route you've chosen, it happens to us all.

In the short term I'd recommend that, if you've got the experience, you submit your PER for assessment. It would be a shame not to complete the qualification having worked so hard. Even if you decide to go to university or try another career route you'll have a professional qualification under your belt. This is something you can come back to later in life, if you want to.

For practical assistance on what's available to you, CIMA provides access to a 'degree links' database, this is a database of fast track routes to degree and Masters qualifications for CIMA students and members.

If you were to get enough experience to be awarded membership there are also fast track routes to Masters degrees.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck.

 Claire Morton, CPD Manager

Degree links database

Claire, I used the link to the databse and its not that great. There seem to be degrees available but credits are given for the 'Advanced Diploma' and none for CIMA memership. I don't see how this is helpful. Would you please be able to give any more advice. Thanks

Thank you!

MG wrote:
Claire, I used the link to the databse and its not that great. There seem to be degrees available but credits are given for the 'Advanced Diploma' and none for CIMA memership. I don't see how this is helpful. Would you please be able to give any more advice. Thanks

 This is exactly what I have found, but I have decided to go for it anyway. I really do hope that I don't get knocked back for being overqualified.

 Don't worry Claire, I am writing up my CPD - it has just been a very hectic year since I passed TOPCIMA. I swear I have forms coming out of my ears applying for all of these courses etc.

Thanks for everyone's responses, I am glad that I am not the only one trying to get a degree and wondering how to go about it. A masters is definitely not the route I need if I want to become a teacher though.

 Excellent comment about the exemptions going both ways, how easy it is for people to make negative comments without thinking about all of the facts involved. I just hope I don't find the final degree year as difficult as some of my friends with exemptions to CIMA have found their exams.

 I'm pretty sure the course can't be as demanding as the UCAS form.... nightmare.

 The only other thing about the HND/Diploma allowing you into the final year of courses - there's no Red Bricks. It would be great if more Universities could get involved.

Undergraduate degree for CIMA members

BA (Hons) Accounting and Financial Management - final year top up at the University of Sunderland. Does anyone know if the above University is a reputable uni or not ? Additionally is there anything that CIMA can do to facilitate members to get further exmptions on this programme since the final six modules are : Financial Management Strategic Management Accounting International Financial Reporting Managing projects I think all the above are comprehensively covered on the CIMA syllabus Contemporary Developments in Business Management & Business Modelling for Decision Makers in my view are the two modules that are not fully covered on the CIMA syllabus. If anyone else is interested in an undergraduate degree from the above University maybe we can negotiate with Sunderland University to consider this

Undergraduate Degree

The time league ranking is always useful

Sunderland is 84th. So lets say its not going to get you a job at McKinsey's. Its not red brick or one of the better new universities.

But it depends what you are looking for... better than no degree what so ever..

Degree as part of CIMA

Personally I feel that CIMA should have done something along the lines off the ACCA where when a certain part of the qualification was attained you could do something along the lines of the Oxford Brookes degree (5000 word dissertation) which the ACCA students can do. Not a great degree but ticks a box for some recruiters.

On another note when considering a top up degree you should check the class of degree that can be awarded. For example if your course work is say at 2.1 level would you still be awarded this as your degree award given the exemptions given for CIMA?


Look at Derby University which offers an MBA by distance learning for ACCA and ACMA.  For ACMA;s just 2 small modules and a dissertation in just 12 months!

the acca way is the best way.

Should CIMA students be competitive in the market then surely a degree is needed along the ACCA lines. If CIMA qualification is miles ahead of the under graduate program then why not negotiate the same as what ACCA did? Some where along the study the degee should be offered having satisfied laid down conditions. I mean this should happen before one becomes over qualified.

Degree in CIMA

I felt that with New 2010 Syllabus, CIMA should consider Level 3 as Degree in Accounting as they have streamlining the Fundamental as Certificate Level, Level 1 as Diploma, Level 2 as Advanced Diploma and TOPCIMA to be complete ACMA. If Level 3 can be a Degree, than all would be perfect. Does anyone agree with me?

managerial level equal to a degree

I feel after finishing the advanced level one should be awarded the degree. Because ceteris paribus, you would have studied eleven subjects including the certificate level. thats within the range of subjects done by most most universities. Third level is too advanced for an undergraduate degree.

Professional Qualification

Nah, CIMA is a professional qualification and should maintain that focus.

CIMA already have agreements for top-up MBA Finance

i think most people agree with the view that CIMA remain a professional body and stay focused but it has alredy made partnership agreements, way back 2003, with colleges like Henly for top-up MBA Finance. i think Elisha is looking for somthing like that for the degree.


Credit toward an MBA is slightly different in that an MBA is a natural progression from a professional qualification. Giving students the right to a bachelors degree after completing a certain amount of the CIMA course is, in my opinion, unnecessary and just blurs the lines between the academic and professional routes.

CIMA equal to a MAsters

Since CIMA is equal to a Masters, MBA wont be a natural progression as prima facie, you will be obtaining the same qualification , that looks unnecessary. If the top up MBA is available under these conditions then why not a degree.

Is managerial level completion satisfy the PSW visa?

i am cima student who has passed all of his managerial level exams, i just want to know that can i apply for post study work visa on cima study basis. help will be appreciated.

Law degree

I am proudly an ACMA  and FCIS.  I need a fast track law degree based on Southern African or English or Canadian or Australian law offered by distance learning  by a reputable institution.


Also assist on life and business coaching degree



psw and cima

Umar Aslam wrote:
i am cima student who has passed all of his managerial level exams, i just want to know that can i apply for post study work visa on cima study basis. help will be appreciated.


HI umar, any luck with the psw? I am in a similar position.

To close

Got an e-mail today from another unhappy soul.

 Just to close the post, I applied at Teesside University - my then local.

They tried to persuade me to work at masters level, but when I explained my situation, they allowed me to enter their Top Up course. As I had come to loathe finance so much, I avoided any finance options and had a fairly interesting year studying Business Management with Marketing.

 I got a first, so I hope no-one thinks I wasn't good enough for the exemptions!

I am now a fully qualified teacher in my second year. It is far more oversubscribed than accountancy, yet I am making a good name for myself.

I feel useful and I LOVE my job. I work twice as hard and still earn less than I did in my last few years of my accountancy - despite claiming the London allowance.

My partner (also CIMA qualified) is now at a top London musical theatre school, earning his masters and trying to get on the West End.

I guess what I am trying to say is, if you have dreams and ambitions, follow them! Hard work gets you everywhere.

BEST decision of my life.


Northampton Uni Offer Top-Up Course 


Hope this is of some use to you all.



18 months?

You reply 18 month's after the last post and nearly 5 years from the original? Why????