In today’s competitive world, a post-graduate degree or a professional qualification has become the need of the hour to widen the career scope and improve the job and salary prospects.
We get numerous queries from students pursuing the commerce stream who’re keen to find out whether an MBA or CA would be a better study option.
In this post, we’d cover various aspects of an MBA degree and a CA qualification.
CA vs MBA: Comparing courses, salaries & career growth prospects
Firstly, let’s get some of the facts right. An MBA is a post-graduate qualification and can be taken up only after you complete your graduation.
It is usually a two-year program whereas the Chartered Accountancy (CA) is a professional degree which can be started after you finish your 12th standard.
For completing your CA, you don’t have to attend any college or be affiliated to any university. Instead, you are required to register yourself with the ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India).
B.Com and CA/MBA:
A majority of students take up CA studies as well as complete their B.Com. The BCom is a graduation degree granted by the University whereas the CA is self-study based (or you may take external help through prep classes) and you can complete it at your own pace.
Considering the low success rate in the CA exams, if you’re unable to clear it, at least you’d be in a position to complete your graduation (B.Com) and later opt for any post-graduation program including an MBA. There are many students who may complete their CA and then also plan for an MBA some time later after a few years of working.
For graduates intending to study in an international MBA program, there are many international business schools accepting candidates with 15 years of college education.
To get the details, check out this post on Amercian colleges that accept Indian degrees like BSc and BCom. However a few years of good work experience would be required before you apply.
BU-ICAI joint education program
Bharathiar University along with ICAI are offering joint programs including BCom, MCom. The students who has passes their intermediate exam are exempted from appearing in certain subjects. Details are available here.
CA course structure
Here is the step by step process for pursuing your CA after std. XII:
1. Common Proficiency Test (CPT)
The process begins with enrolling with the Institute of Common Proficiency Course after passing your std. X exams. Once you give your std. XII exams, you may appear for the (Common Proficiency Test) CPT which is held every year in June and December.
2. Intermediate course
Next comes the IPC (Intermediate course). You may register for both group I and group II or one at a time. There are two more requirements to complete: a 35 hour duration week – long orientation course and Information Technology Training (ITT) spanning 100 hours.
You may then appear for the intermediate exams (held in May and November) and after clearing group I or both groups, you can begin with your articleship.
You need to complete three years of articleship under a practising Chartered accountant. The articleship is important as it gives you exposure to vast knowledge and practical experience. The learning derived during this period can be tremendous and will help you in the long run. Some may be lucky enough to land an articleship with a Big 4.
Read this related article on whether Chartered Accountant (CA) articleship is counted in MBA applications.
There are again two 15 day duration Complete general management and communication and communication skills (GMCS-I) and GMCS-II which needs to be completed during the first year and during the 19th to 36th month of your articleship respectively.
5. CA Final exams
After clearing the intermediate exams, you have to register for the CA final exam. These exams are held twice a year-in November and May. There are two groups each comprising four papers.
You need to take ‘complete advance information technology training’ during the last year of articleship and then you may appear for the CA finals during the last six months of articleship.
Once you complete your Practical Training or articleship, you need to enrol with the ICAI and you earn the designation of a Chartered Accountant.
CA after BCom or graduation
There are those who’d wish to do CA after completing their commerce graduation (B Com) or post-graduation (M Com).
You need to have secured 55% if you’re a commerce graduate/post-graduate or 60% if you’re a graduate/ post-graduate from another stream.
Here, the CPT is given a skip. You have to get enrolled with the institute (ICAI) straightaway for the intermediate (IPC) course. After completing of the orientation course and the ITT as mentioned before, you may begin with your articleship which will continue for a period of three years.
You have to complete GMCS-I course during the first year of articled training and after working for a period of nine months, you’re eligible to appear for both the groups of the intermediate exams.
You can now register for the CA final exams and then complete GMCS-II course during 19-36 months of practical training. The rest of the procedure would be the same.
After finishing the ‘complete advance information technology training’ during the last year of articleship, you may appear for the CA finals during the last six months of your practical training.
CA exam passing percentage
The success rate for the Nov 2017 CA Final exams was a mere 22.76% for candidates who passed both the groups, it was 8.26% for May 2015, so we can say that the pass percentage has shown a slight rise.
However compared to other exams, the low pass percentage signifies the level of difficulty in getting through in the first attempt. In case you are unsuccessful in clearing any exam, you are allowed multiple attempts.
CA fee structure
The breakup for CA fees and the total amount is as follows:
CA fee structure
|CA Fee Breakup
|Amount in Rupees (INR)
|CPC Registration Fee
|Intermediate course registration fee (both groups)
|Articled training registration fee
|Final course registration fee
It would be advisable for candidates to verify the fees, deadlines, and other requirements, given the possibility of updates.
CA career scope and prospects
The Chartered Accountant designation is a highly respectable one, especially if you have cleared it all in the first attempt.
CAs may start their own practice after gathering some experience or opt to work with other reputed Chartered Accountant’s firm.
The choice is yours – whether you are comfortable working in a small or mid-size private practice, auditing and consulting firms, the banking or the corporate sector. You may get a chance to work with the Big-4 or join any multinational organisation (MNC).
Almost every huge organisation has an Accounts or Finance department and it’s up to you to decide where to apply.
In addition to auditing, taxation, financial accounting, compliance with various regulations or cost accounting which you may already be conversant with during your articled training, there is a lot more knowledge and skills you’ll pick while on your job.
You may also be lucky to be offered roles in corporate finance or investment banking.
Some of the good companies offer an attractive starting salary for the right candidate.
The average starting salary may range between 6,00,000 to 7,00,000 Rupees.
Though bigger companies may pay a much higher compensation package, smaller firms would not be able to match this range.
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Compared to the earlier section on CA basics, we’ll keep this one short as we’ve got plenty of articles on the MBA degre. Check out the relevant links in the sections below, if you need further information or a memory refresher on any particular sub-topic.
The MBA brand value of the business school from where you get the degree counts a lot. There is tough competition to get into a top ranked MBA program.
In India, most of the MBA programs for freshers are two year long. You may need to appear for the CAT or any other exam as per the admission requirement of the business school you wish to attend.
The most sought after IIMs have the two year Post-Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) for students without much experience. Some of the top programs like ISB and Harvard business school have started MBA programs for freshers like the YLP and the HBS 2+2 respectively.
If you choose to wait for a few years and get some work experience, you can apply to the other international MBA programs as well. An international MBA would give you a chance to spend time in the country of your choice and you may get a chance to work there.
These international programs require a good GMAT score. You need to put in sincere effort to create high quality MBA essays, get recommendations and finally crack the MBA interview.
Scope of an MBA program
The MBA curriculum combines theory with various practical teaching methods. In addition to the lectures and seminars, there are the case studies and simulations, experiential learning and real world business projects which teach you to analyse and deal with a business situation holistically.
The international exchange programs give you networking opportunities and a chance to spend time at an international campus, get insights about another culture and their business scenario.
The electives are the various specialisations offered by the school. Some of the schools offer a wide range of electives that you can choose from as per your interests.
The internships give you an opportunity to try your hand at some new area you wish to familiarise yourself with. It would be a good idea to check the placement statistics including the recruiting companies of the various schools while you apply.
Get up to speed on the curriculum by reading this series of articles on the MBA syllabus at IIMs and other top bschools in India and abroad.
MBA career path
An MBA gives you a wide range of options to choose the career or industry that suits you the best. Some of the various career paths you can opt for include: consulting/strategy, entrepreneurship, finance, technology, operations, human resources and marketing.
Now, comes the final question.
Which is better – an MBA degree or the CA certification?
It’s purely based on your interest and the area you wish to work in. The scope of work for a CA is mainly in the field of finance and accounting area whereas MBAs have more diversity to choose from.
There are CAs as well as MBAs who have climbed up the ladder and reached higher positions, though we may say that in certain areas like investment banking, financial consulting or mergers and acquisitions, an MBA would be preferred than a CA.
On the other hand, there are instances of CAs who have picked new skills while on the job and handled greater responsibilities than someone who has an MBA degree.
There are also CA professionals who apply to international MBA programs to have a shot at a global career.
So, we can sum up that a lot depends on the nature of your job, the related responsibilities and the learning involved.