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ACCA vs. CPA: Which One’s For You?

Posted on February 28, 2015 2:21 pm;

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With ACCA or CPA status, you will be qualified to engage in accounting in a professional manner. But that’s where the similarity ends. So just how do the two differ?

Let Morgan help you compare.

In short With ACCA or CPA status you will be qualified to engage in accounting in a professional manner. But that’s where the similarity ends. Read on to see just how the two differ.
License granted by body in: US, by any of the 55 states or jurisdiction. There is no centralized body; each state has slightly different exam and licensing requirements. UK
Application process Online or directly through the Board of Accountancy with which you are pursuing your licence Online at accaglobal.com
Minimum entry requirements 4-year bachelor degree and preferably a master’s degree in order to fulfill the 150 credit hours, equivalent to 5 years in higher education. Accessible to all
Experience required to license Varies from one jurisdiction to another (generally ranges from 12 to 24 months on average ) 36 months
In existence since 1800s 1904
Number of bodies Many 1
Number of exams 1 in four parts 14 papers (Fundamental level 9 papers, Professional level 5 papers)
Subject areas Four sections:

  • Auditing & Attestation
  • Business Environment and Concepts
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Regulation


Fundamental section has two modules: Knowledge and Skills. The professional section has two modules: Essentials and Options.Knowledge section:

  • Accountant in Business Management Accounting Financial Accounting

Skills section:

  • Corporate and Business Law Performance Management Taxation
  • Financial Reporting
  • Audit and Assurance
  • Financial Management

Essentials section:

  • Governance, Risk & Ethics
  • Corporate Reporting
  • Business Analysis

Options section:

  • Advanced Financial Management
  • Advanced Performance Management
  • Advanced Taxation
  • Advanced Audit and Assurance
Types of questions Multiple choice + task-based simulations (i.e. intense case studies) + written communications Objective + longer type + case studies
Exam timing You can choose to take the 4 parts one at a time, 2 at a time or even 4 at the same time. You can sit for the exam any time (Monday to Saturday) during the first 2 months of each quarter. Exams are offered in June and December each year
Average timeframe to complete Minimum six months, more likely one year. Most likely 3 to 4 years.
Possible exemptions AICPA (the US accounting body) members can choose to take a simplified version of the CPA exam known as IQEX. If you have a bachelor degree in relevant subjects, you can apply for exemption on part or all of the papers at the Fundamental Level. Also, AICPA members can receive exemptions on a number of papers.
Where in the world can you take the exams? US, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, the UAE, Japan, and Brazil. 170+ countries around the world.


Still in two minds? Let Morgan help you decide which one’s right for you. Schedule your free consultation session today!

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