The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is a British-based organization described as the world's largest professional body for management accountancy. Its activities include training and professional examinations, including the main CIMA qualification, billed as equivalent to a graduate degree. There are lesser qualifications available for students working their way through the process.
The main CIMA qualification follows a syllabus that is broken down into operational, management, strategic and professional competence levels. Candidates must pass all levels to achieve the qualification and become a member of the institute.
The first part of the course is split into three subjects: enterprise, performance and financial management. In each subject, the student must take the syllabus and pass the examination at an initial level known as operational, then pass an examination on the same subject at a more advanced management level. It is possible to move on to the management level in one subject before completing the operational level in the other subjects.
Once the student has completed the six modules, covering the two levels of the three subjects, she moves on to strategic level. This is an even more advanced syllabus and examination for each of the three subjects. The student must pass the management level of all three subjects before moving on to strategic level of any of the three.
When the student has completed and passed the strategic level of all three subjects, he moves on to the final stage, professional competence level. This involves completing three years of professional practical experience and then passing an exam. Students can study for and take the exam while completing the professional experience, but won't qualify until both the experience and exam are complete.
There are several lesser qualifications available to those en route to the main CIMA qualification and institute membership. The organization offers an initial entry level certificate that should be achieved by those planning to start the main qualification, though students may be exempt if they have an appropriate degree or have relevant qualifications from other groups. As the student is working her way through the main CIMA qualification, she receives a CIMA diploma for completing the operational and management levels, and a CIMA advanced diploma for completing the strategic level. CIMA also offers a short certificate course for those specializing in Islamic Finance, which takes between two and six months to complete.