Is certificate in business accounting equivalent to BE?

Replies : 27
Is certificate in business accounting equivalent to BE?


whats you mean by BE? kindly explain it

Is certificate in business accounting equivalent to BE?

By BE you mean bachelors degree? I also want to ask the same thing


Does it matter? At the end of the day - CIMA is a professional qualification and ultimately by embarking on this qualification this is what you should be working towards. So why get hung up over whether certificate is equivalent to a degree. If you are after a degree and not to be a Chartered Management Accountant then do a degree.


I understand what you are saying with regards to CIMA being a professional qualification but sometime this is difficult to explain to people who have never heard of CIMA like friends and family, being able to say to that it is an equivalent to A-levels or a degree would make it eaiser to explain. Plus I don't think it hurts to know. So if anyone does know please share......


Alison, CIMA is a professional qualification. You can explain to your family and friends that it is a professional qualification, whereby at the end of it, you can call yourself a Management Accountant.  As for employers - in the UK, it is a recognised qualification.

What's the CIMA qualification equivalent to?


Hi all.

Academically, the CIMA full Chartered qualification is seen as an equivalent to a Master's degree when rating qualifications for entry into the UK (although having done both, I'd argue that a Master's is an altogether different learning experience). It's way, way beyond A-levels.

But if you think it's difficult explaining to friends and family what you're studying now, just wait until you can tell them you're a Chartered Management Accountant and not a Chartered Accountant or a Chartered Certified Accountant or a Chartered Public Finance Accountant, and you don't do audits, and you don't do tax returns, and, and and!!

CIMA Qualification

Dear Alison,


I can confirm that we have not placed a level of equivalence to the CBA level in educational terms.


CIMA’s qualification (including the completion of its examinations and its practical experience requirements) has post graduate status within the UK and is broadly equivalent to a Masters degree.
For further information regarding the current CIMA qualification please click on the link below.
I do hope that this clarifies the matter.
Yetunde Anjorin
CIMAsphere Moderator 


CIMA qualification

Yetunde, could you please detail how the CIMA post-graduate status has been assessed?

The "broadly equivalent to a Master's degree"  came from UK NARIC giving CIMA the same points score as an MSc NARIC provides data primarily for potential immigrants to the UK to compare their qualifications against UK equivalents, and as far as I'm aware, isn't intended to assess or compare UK qualifications themselves. Possibly just a touch of imaginative marketing here ...?

It would be very easy to get into "Freakonomics" territory, using data well outside the comparisons they were intended for. But let's bear in mind "anon''s point too!

Level of Certificate in Business Accounting

If the Strategic level is equivalent to a Masters degree, then the Managerial level would be equivalent to a Bachelors degree, the Operational level to a DipHE (or 2nd year of Bachelors degree) and the Certificate to a Cert HE (or 1st year of a Bachelors degree).

 Maybe Cima should consider getting their qualifications put on the NQF, like a lot of other professional bodies are doing?

Can we go round in circles and still be in the wrong direction?

I'm really interested in why people think this matters.

For those who don't know, the National Qualification Framework (NQF) is run by an NDPB (non-departmental public body - "quango") set up under the Education Act to "review and reform qualifications". It tries to set all UK and EU qualifications into one of 9 levels from "entry" (basic literacy) to "level 8" - specialist awards and doctorates. And there's a "National Database of Accredited Qualifications" that at the moment is pretty silent on most  CCAB qualifications. It's of great interest to education professionals - whose pay often depends on the academic level they teach - and those who like to make lists.

If you're studying CIMA then you're running a marathon; why stop part-way to say you've now run the equivalent of a 100m sprint? Any potential employer will simply expect you to be someone has the stamina to last the distance and the navigational ability to find the finish. When it comes to explaining to friends and family, just tell them you're learning about how to make organisations work better in one of the best jobs anyone could have. 

Wouldn't CIMA be better off making sure employers know first why qualified accountants are good for them and second why CIMA-qualified accountants are the most beneficial for their entities? Isn't anything else just vanity?

And I still don't see there's any evidence that even full CIMA is an "equivalent" learning experience to a well-taught and wide-ranging Master's! Just as good, in its own profession, but not equivalent.

Certificate Level

Adrian Rutter wrote:

Wouldn't CIMA be better off making sure employers know first why qualified accountants are good for them and second why CIMA-qualified accountants are the most beneficial for their entities? Isn't anything else just vanity?


I don't think it is vanity. This isn't about qualified accountants the question was about the certificate in business accounting. When you apply for jobs they specify the qualifications they require. If you only hold the certificate and no other relevant finance qualifications you don't actually know what level of jobs you could apply for as they are unlikely to specify it on a job ad and no-one has said what level it is equivalent to even in very broad terms.

Certificate and no other relevant finance qualifications?

Sorry, Christina, I don't quite understand the point you're making. Surely someone who's part-qualified to Operational or Strategic level would be applying for finance-based jobs, so what other "relevant finance qualification" would they need?

If you mean can someone without a degree apply for a job where a degree is specified and say "Ah but I've a Certificate in Business Accounting, and that's the same thing as a degree", well again, there are deep and sometimes-heated discussions all across this forum arguing about that. My point is that for finance jobs then CIMA should "trump" any degree (or lack of it) because CIMA is directly relevant to finance work and academically rigorous. "Equivalence" is irrelevant if what CIMA itself stands for is properly understood. Is it really likely that any employer awake enough to be worth working for would appoint someone with only a BA in Media Studies or Modern History to a finance role in preference to someone working their way through CIMA, on the grounds that they really must have a graduate? 

Certificate and no other relevant finance qualifications?

My point was for people who don't carry on to work through the full CIMA syllabus but only do the certificate. I haven't come across a case where it's just the fact that they want any degree but there are many jobs where they want a finance/economics degree.

Wrong direction completely?

Well, for those who don't want to complete the full CIMA syllabus there's AAT, NVQs of various levels, or an actual degree.

At the moment, arguably what makes CIMA people so employable is that our members can be trusted to turn their skills to just about any part of strategic financial management within a strong ethical framework. That's why it's important to "qualify" and not simply pass finals. I don't see how anyone could argue that partially completing a three-stage professional syllabus is "equivalent" to completing a three-year course of study at university. (And, before someone jumps in, that's no disrespect to CIMA students working through a very tough set of exams.)

Certificate equal to a Degree = NO!

I would think not.. for the simple reason:

Certificate studying took me a few months studying part time probably 2 or 3 evenings a week.

My degree took me 3 years full time, a massive dissertation, some brutal final exams and a lot of hard work.

Look at the maths in the certificate level - its easier than maths a-level. There are a number ACMA's who will never know how to do calculus!

Certificate is easy qualification

I am very surprised at how people seem to be playing down the difficulty of the cima cerificate let alone the cima higher levels! I think that if you were to test the skills and abilities of a CIMA certificate student with a basic business degree student and placed them in a business context, there knowledge and abilities would be similar.

I have a master's degree (including a full dissertation) in a medical field. It was very tough. But you let me tell you I have worked exceptionally hard to get through the cima certificate. Maybe I have worked very hard this year because I want to know the stuff well so that it will be easier in the upper levels, but it has taken me almost 9 months of 2 hours a day to get through.

My brother is a full ACMA and on top of his CIMA qualification has two honours degree's in economics and management accounting. People should not play down the CIMA qualification. It has great worth and is tough. Whether or not it is master's degree equivalency is a topic for academics. All I would be worried about is whether it provides job prospects and whether or not employers value it.


another view


As an ACMA I am absolutely not playing down the value of the qualification.

What I was saying is that the Certificate - especially for anyone with a background in business / economics is easy.

Relative to the Operational / Management / Strategic / TOPCIMA.... its a walk in the park.

Any relevant degree normally gets some kind of exemption to it...

p.s. you are a bit late to the party on this one.. the last post was in March ;)

NQF Levels


I am certainly not trying to offend but I am also quite interested in the NQF levels or a comparable measure because I have CIMA students who are considering transfering to a Bachelor of Business Administration program that I help administer.  I want to give these students reasonable and fair amounts of credit toward their BBA.  Knowing the NQF level of various CIMA qualifications makes this process much more fair for these students.  It sounds though like CIMA has not gone down this route like some other programs (ABE, CIM, etc.) have or maybe I am wrong about that?

 Any information that could be provided would be much appreciated.

CBA no of questions


Can someone help me

How many questions are in CBA 04?

Is it 50 or 80



CIMA NQF equivalence

Hi Dan,

We are an independent professional body, holding awarding powers handed down via the Crown, by virtue of our Royal Charter.

CIMA's policy, along with many other professional bodies, is not to register the Chartered Management Accounting qualifications within the UK qualifications framework. We do register in South Africa, since it is essential in order to offer the qualification in that country.

There are very few benchmarks to the UK Higher Education system for a professional qualification (which unlike degrees etc, includes requirements for work based hands-on practical experience). 

Hope this helps!

Best wishes

CIMASphere moderator

CIMA NQF equivalence

Hi Elisabeth,

 Thanks for your reply.  This is very informative and I understand your reluctance to go the route of NQF.  I am trying to find out information so that we can help students who haven't complete their CIMA qualification but want to start in a degree program to get a fair amount of credit for the hard work they have already put in. 

 I will check and see how the qualification has been assessed in South Africa - maybe that will help shed some additional light on this subject for me.

Thanks again for your help!!


P.S. My daughter's name is also Elisabeth.

Answer to the original question

This was something I wanted to know too, as I have started study late in my life and as I have a growing family, dont expect to be able to find the time to go any further than the Business Certificate level.

Firstly, I want to say if someone is asking a question it is very frustrating when no answer is given because it is thought to be irrelevant by the person responding.  Well is it relevant to the person asking it, myself and any uninformed employer.... of which there are many.


So, to the answer....  On the CIMA website it states that to progress to the level after the business certificate you would need to, either

Complete the Certificate in Business accounting


Have some kind of business/accounting Bachelor degree

Therefore, I think we can assume (and tell any old fashioned, uninformed employer) the the above 2 qualifications are comparible - not exact, but a guide, I think.




P.s. In reponse to gaad, I have just taken this exam (C04) and there were 75 questions


CIMA Certicate cannot be compared to a degree, becuase a degree is more of acedemic and very easy to pass. cima certificate needs your application of subjets to the business world. alot of student who have done academic degrees fail cima because they are fond of memorizing theories like at degree level and fail the application part. coming to employements the employer needs a person with the applicatin and not the full of memorized theories. cima cerficate is above a degree.

not so fast..

@ Alex Turton

@ Raphael Lungu

Just read your comment about CIMA Certificate Level. There is no way in a thousand years that the CIMA Certifcate is anyway comparable to a degree.

My degree took 3 years, the CIMA certificate took 2 months. It really is very basic and only designed to give you basic underpinnings. I would say as a stand alone qualification it really isn't worth much to an employer.

Therefore, I think we can assume (and tell any old fashioned, uninformed employer) the the above 2 qualifications are comparible - not exact, but a guide, I think. 

This logic doesn't hold up, all you can tell is that in an business/accounting degree you will have covered all the material in the certificate, that doesn't mean you will have covered all the degree material with a certificate.

Its like saying a Ford and a Ferrari can both do 30mph, therefore a Ford can go as fast as a Ferrari....

CIMA Certificate is basic

Its concievable you can get the entire CIMA Certificate in a month and a half if you work hard at it full time. (Each paper takes around 50 hours study)

A B.E. (Batchelor of Engineering) or BS or BA degree is designed to take 4 years, full time study.

You do the maths.

I recently completed certificate level. 

I have found certificate level was similar in hardness/level to the introductory modules I covered on an MSc Finance for the first two months.  After this the MSc got a LOT more analytical / harder than CIMA certificate level. 

Is certificate in business accounting equivalent to BE?

I think anyone who has done any sort of academically challenging degree would be quite bemused, and potentially offended at the suggestion that the cert is in any way equivalent to a Bachelors degree.

 I spent 3 years with 6 exams of 3 hours duration each year, plus a 12,000 word dissertation on my degree. I spent 5 weeks in total (block release from work) and in all honesty, very little revision time, on my certificate. My degree wasn't a numerate one (law) and I hadn't done any maths since GCSE level at school so it isn't like I was coming from a similar background.

At most I would compare the certificate to maybe the first semester of first year at university, or perhaps an A Level. Completion of strat may be comparable to a Bachelors and the full qualification to a Masters. Even this is a very vague comparison, I deifnitely found the level of reading, knowledge and application far higher in my degree than my current CIMA studies to date (about to complete Management level).

CIMA Cert - equivalent

My subjective view of the degree of difficulty:

The whole Cert (all 5 papers) is aout the equivalent of GCSE in a numerate subject - Maths, Physics, or Economics.

In terms of study time:

- CIMA Cert  - consensus is its 50hrs per paper, 5 papers, total 250hrs.

- A BSc / BA would be 3 years of usually at least 25hrs / week x 40 weeks /year x 3 years = 3,000 hours.  More if eg it is a lab-based science subject.

- An A level, incl homework, would be about 10 hours a week x 40 weeks / year x 2 years = 800 hours.

- A GCSE, incl homework, would be about 4 hours a week x 40 weeks x 2 years = 320 hours.

Kind of confirms the subjective assessment above, ie the Cert level in itself doesnt prove a huge amount, its more fo a gateway to the tougher levels (and it shows you are willing / making a start).

Advice I received from a reputable source was that the whole CIMA process is broadly equivalent to a 1-year full time masters in a related/similar subject eg Finance, Economics, Business Studies.