How to Become a CFA Charterholder
Pass CFA Exams CFA Program contains three levels of curriculum, each with its own exam. Passing the exam for all three levels is a requirement to obtain the CFA charter.
Achieve Qualified Work Experience Complete work experience requirements before, during, or after participation in CFA Program. Your experience must be directly involved with the investment decision-making process or producing a work product that informs or adds value to that process.
Submit Reference Letters In support of your membership application, you will need to provide 2-3 professional references. References will be asked to comment on your work experience and professional character.
Apply to Become a Charterholder Apply to become a regular member of CFA Institute. Once your application is approved, and you have paid annual dues, you will have earned the CFA charter.
Enrollment Criteria for CFA Program
Complete a bachelor's degree or equivalent program. Most CFA Program applicants have the education to enroll in graduate studies in the country where they earned their degree. If you are not sure if your program is comparable, consult your college or university.
Be a final-year student of a bachelor's degree or equivalent program. Understand that you may register for the Level I CFA exam, but must complete your degree program before being permitted to register for the Level II CFA exam.
Have a combination of four years of full-time work experience and/or higher education. Understand that part-time work does NOT qualify you for this track, but your full-time work does not need to be investment related.
CFA Institute requires that every CFA Program candidate have a valid international travel passport. Those without a passport will not be able to register or sit for exams.
CFA Program exams are only offered in English. Exams require English proficiency for reading comprehension and formulating answers to complex financial scenarios.
All candidates in CFA Program must complete a Professional Conduct Statement form to attest that they are in compliance with this requirement.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
How Does CFA Program Compare to an MBA Program?
Both the CFA charter and an MBA program offer benefits that can advance your career. While there are some similarities between the two, there are a few key differences. Examine the chart below to consider which education is more aligned to your career goals.
|CFA Program||Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management||
900+ hours of self study
10 topic areas
4,000 hours of qualified work experience
|USD2,400–4,590 depending on fee deadline||
Benchmarking by NARIC, as comparable to a Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) Master's Level 7
Waivers from licensing exams in 27 countries
|Deep knowledge of investment analysis, management, and ethics||Low barrier for entry, high attrition rate||Charter: professional designation||167,000+ CFA Institute members|
|MBA Program||Business Management||
2–4 years depending on program
Class attendance and participation
No practice requirements
|USD80,000–125,000 depending on program||Accredited MBA programs are widely recognized by employers||Broad knowledge of core business concepts with some opportunity to specialize||High barrier for entry, low attrition rate||Degree certificate||Depends on specific MBA program|
Get Familiar with CFA Program
Get a snapshot of the topics covered by CFA Program and discover other important curriculum material.
Three Levels of Exams
Learn about the structure, timing, and cost of CFA exams.
CFA Program Scholarships
We offer scholarships to help qualified candidates pay for exam fees.