CFA or MBA in finance? Which course is best for you in 2022

Will I get into any of the IIM courses?

Do many students prefer to do the MBA in foreign countries?

Is the CFA exam difficult to pass?

What do most investment companies look for?

Is a CFA better than an MBA? 

If you are a commerce or finance student, you have probably asked one or more of the above questions at some point in time. 

When you are struggling to find a foot within the financial industry, the right academic qualification can help pave a path toward your dream career. Choosing the appropriate credential is crucial. Most aspiring investment advisors are torn between two popular courses — the MBA and CFA

How to decide which one is better suited for you? 

Both courses offer abundant opportunities within the financial world. Both have a long list of alumni who have gone on to carve successful careers while reaping many benefits. However, both may not be ideal for you. There are so many variables that it can seem overwhelming. It all comes down to who you are. Your choice should reflect where your strengths and interests lie. You need to weigh the pros and cons of each program to make your decision. Here below, you will find all the information you need to help you make your selection. 

A brief overview of the MBA finance program 

The master’s in business administration course is a renowned post-graduate qualification offered by many business schools in the country and abroad. It provides a detailed education in management skills to suit the demands of the financial industry. While there are excellent colleges in India, some students prefer to do their MBA in foreign countries.

Pros and cons of the MBA course


  • Big companies have a high preference for MBA holders from top b-schools
  • If you can score high on the CAT exams, you are eligible to apply to the IIM courses
  • Ideal for enterprising candidates who want to get into management positions 
  • Many MBA professionals end up in high-profile roles such as CEO, CFO and COO
  • The MBA also focuses on training in developing personal skills such as effective communication, analytical abilities and decisive thinking.
  • You don’t require any work experience to qualify for the program 


  • Most of the b-schools are expensive and can be out of reach of the average student
  • It is a very competitive field 
  • It may be challenging to get into top-tier institutes such as the IIMs in India 
  • If you are planning a hard-core financial career, it may not be the right path for you
  • Finding jobs in the major corporations can be difficult if you are not from institutes such as IIM
  • Also, salaries for MBAs from second and third-tier colleges are lower than those from the top schools. 
  • Unclear ROI, as the fees are high

A brief overview of the CFA program 

The CFA course is one of the finest financial certifications in the world, recognised in over 165 countries. They offer a well-rounded curriculum in investment advisory services, with subjects such as economics, financial reporting and analysis and portfolio management. 

Pros and cons of the CFA course


  • A strong community of CFA charterholders that encourages networking opportunities and growth prospects
  • Excellent program that covers real-world applications and theoretical knowledge of the investment industry
  • Many companies prefer hiring CFA-certified professionals
  • It adds value to your resume and offers advantages during the recruitment process 
  • Internationally recognised certification 
  • Can be studied in a classroom or through distant learning sessions 
  • Working professionals can do the course while pursuing their careers
  • You are eligible for employment after completing each level 


  • The course is intensive and rigorous. You need to dedicate significant time and effort to pass the exams
  • The CFA Institute recommends studying for at least 250 hours for every level. This can eat into your free time a lot
  • It doesn’t guarantee your dream job. You may be qualified for the position, but you also need to impress the recruiter with your people skills and personality 
  • Passing all exams doesn’t make you eligible for the charter. You need four years of experience before you become a charter holder

Comparison of MBA v/s CFA

Board  The program is affiliated with the UGC, AICTE and the MHRD boards The course has been created by the CFA Institute in the USA
Duration It is a two year intensive program  The course has three levels that can be completed within 1.5 to 4 years
Eligibility criteria  Graduate in any discipline Graduate in any discipline
Fees  Can range from 11 to 35 lakhs IIM fees are around 23 lakhs for Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta The total cost of the CFA program (enrollment plus exam fees) is between 2 to 5 lakhs
Course structure The first year deals with general management topicsWhile the second year focuses on specialized subjects The course is divided into three sections – CFA level 1, 2 and 3There are ten subjects 
Study mode  You need to register with an affiliated university and attend classes on campus You can register with a coaching institute and study in a classroom or through online sessions
Exams There are four exams at the end of each semester  There are exams at the end of each CFA level 
Career opportunities Private bankingRisk managementAsset managementInvestment bankingConsulting Investment management Hedge fundsEquity research analystsWealth managementInsurance Hedge fundsBanks 
Salary  The average salary of an MBA in India is 7 to 20 lakhs Students from top-tier b-schools such as IIM in India can earn around INR 20 to 25 lakhs per annum The average annual salary is INR 5 lakhsHigh-ranking professionals can earn over INR 20 lakhs a year

Benefits of doing an MBA and CFA 

As you can see, both qualifications have immense value and help you progress further in your financial career. If you find it tough to choose between the two, there is a third alternative. Students who have the time, mental capacity and finances, can do a CFA course after completing the MBA, or vice versa. So how does it help? Let’s find out.

  • You get a full-bodied, complete education in investment finances. 
  • Your resume immediately goes up a couple of notches in high esteem, and your earning potential also increases
  • The job opportunities increase, both in India and abroad
  • MNCs, NBFCs, banks and other corporations find you far more valuable than your peers. It gives you an edge when applying for core finance-based jobs
  • Can help you rise up the company hierarchy quicker 

In conclusion 

Planning your future can be very stressful. There is a lot of pressure to make the right decision. Before you embark on either the MBA or CFA course, first understand where your niche is. If you are interested in financial analysis and investment services, the CFA program can help you build a strong foundation for your career. You learn about core investing concepts, develop portfolio management skills and delve deep into the financial markets. At the end of the program, you are ready to start your professional journey. 

Find out more details about the CFA course here