2024-2025 CFA® Program Evolution
A Preview of the Changes for Levels 1-3

The CFA Program has undergone significant changes in recent years, including a shift to computer-based testing and a new exam schedule. And on March 20th, 2023, the CFA Institute (CFAI) announced additional changes to further advance this evolution.

CFAI announced the 2024-2025 evolution changes to the CFA Program

CFA Charter Program 2024-2025 Enhancements

The CFA Program changes include expanded eligibility, hands-on learning, a focused curriculum, specialized pathways at Level 3, and digital badges for Level 1 and Level 2 candidates. Here is a quick summary of when those changes take effect for each level.

CFAI Evolution 2024 - 2025
Change Type
Affects Which Level and The Year
of Change
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
Expanded Eligibility 2024
Digital Badges 2023 2023
Hands-On-Learning 2024 2024 2025
Focused Curriculum 2024
Specialized Pathways 2025

Expanded Eligibility

CFA Program eligibility has been extended to university students with two years left in their undergraduate studies, which provides them with an opportunity to prepare for internships and careers in investment. This program is especially suitable for finance-related degree holders, and certain universities have even partnered with the CFAI to assist students in their preparation. The recent policy change allows these students to utilize Level 1 of the CFA exam to signal to employers their interest in pursuing a career in the investment industry.

Digital Badges for Level 1 and Level 2

The CFA Program is improving its recognition strategy by introducing digital badges to acknowledge the achievements of candidates who complete Levels 1 and 2. These badges will be unique in the market and include one-click social sharing, providing instant verification to enhance candidates' credibility and solidify their accomplishments.

An example of how a CFAI-issued digital will look like

This change allows candidates to share this accomplishment with educators, employers, and colleagues and to showcase the candidate's dedication to the industry, professionalism, ethical practices, and the skills and experience acquired through the program. Through this recognition strategy, the CFA Program aims to increase the visibility and value of progress made in the program, highlighting that attaining Levels 1 and 2 is a significant accomplishment.

Hands-On Learning

To enhance the practical application of the CFA exam curriculum, candidates will now receive practical skills training. This training, known as the Practical Skills Module (PSM), is delivered through videos and includes multiple-choice questions, guided practice, and case studies. Candidates must complete at least one PSM at each exam level to obtain their results. The topics for the PSM can be chosen at any point during the exam study period and typically take 10-15 hours to complete. From 2024, Level 1 and 2 candidates will be required to complete the PSM; from 2025, it will also be mandatory for Level 3 candidates.

Important Note: The topics and content for the PSM will not be on the exams. The PSM will not be “graded,” but CFA exam results will not be released until the required PSM is completed.

Focused Curriculum

CFAI has relocated certain Level 1 curriculum topics to improve exam efficiency and reduce content duplication. Nonetheless, critical subjects such as time value of money, basic statistics, microeconomics, and introduction to accounting remain essential and are available as pre-reading materials. These materials are free of charge to registered candidates and can be used to identify knowledge gaps and assess exam readiness. It is important to note that the 2024 exams will use the revised Level 1 curriculum.

Specialized Pathways

At Level 3, candidates can choose specialized pathways that align with their career goals and interests. These pathways will enable candidates to focus on wealth management, private equity, or portfolio management. Each version will have a core curriculum with specialized content for its respective pathway. Candidates can choose the version that aligns with their interests and goals. These pathways will serve as specializations within the CFA Program, but any one can be pursued to obtain the CFA charter.

  • The Portfolio Management pathway will comprise additional subject areas such as Equity Portfolio Management, Fixed Income Portfolio Management, Trading and Execution, Case studies, and Ethics in Portfolio Management.
  • The Wealth Management pathway will encompass additional topics such as Private Wealth Industry, Client Management, Wealth Structuring, Investment Planning, and Ethics in Wealth Management.
  • The Private Equity pathway will include supplementary material such as Structures and Investment Process, Private Equity, Private Debt, Private Real Estate & Infrastructure, and Ethics in Private Markets.
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Level-Specific CFA Exam Changes in 2024 and 2025

The CFAI has also announced significant changes to the Level 1, 2, and 3 exams, which will be implemented between 2024 and 2025.

Level 1 Exam Changes

The CFA Level 1 exam is set to undergo significant changes. The exam will include new topics such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cryptocurrencies. These topics reflect the latest developments in the financial industry and the need for professionals to stay current. These changes aim to better prepare finance professionals for their careers and ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the industry.

Level 2 Exam Changes

The CFA Level 2 exam is a significant hurdle for finance professionals seeking to advance their careers and obtain relevant certifications. In 2024, the Level 2 curriculum will see some significant changes in terms of additional practical skill readings as part of the newly introduced PSMs. Level 2 candidates will have the following readings:

  • Python Programming Fundamentals: A fundamentals course to demonstrate the basics of Python and how to use Jupyter Notebook for developing, presenting, and sharing data science projects related to finance. (if not taken at Level I)
  • Analyst Skills: Focuses on the skills equity and credit analysts need using insights gained from hundreds of successful analysts.
  • Python, Data Science & AI: Introduces candidates to machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data science to understand financial statements, reporting, and analysis using Python.

Level 3 Exam Changes

The CFA Level 3 exam is an essential exam that finance professionals must pass to obtain the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) designation. The changes in 2025 will be significant and the new topics that will be included in the exam are particularly relevant to the current state of the financial industry. Behavioral finance, for example, is an emerging field gaining importance as professionals seek to better understand the factors that influence financial decision-making. By including these new topics in the Level 3 exam, professionals will be better equipped to navigate the evolving financial industry and provide their clients with more effective advice and services.

Structurally, the exam format has not changed. The exam requires candidates to answer both item sets (as at Level 2: a cluster of multiple choice questions based on a vignette) and constructed response items, a cluster of open ended questions based on a shared vignette. Of course, the exam content reflects curriculum changes.

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Things You Must Know For the 2024 CFA Exam Changes

The 2024 CFA exam changes are intended to enhance and align the course curriculum with the evolving finance industry. However, these changes may raise numerous questions for you. To help alleviate any potential roadblocks, here are some clarifications regarding the 2024 changes.

Will the CFA exam be harder with the program changes in 2024?

It is likely that the CFA exam will be harder with the program changes that will take effect in 2024. The CFAI periodically reviews and updates the exam curriculum to reflect changes in the financial industry and to ensure that the exam remains relevant and rigorous.

The upcoming changes in 2024 will include a greater emphasis on topics such as fintech, artificial intelligence, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. These are all areas that are rapidly evolving and require a deeper understanding of complex concepts and techniques. Additionally, the CFAI has indicated that the new curriculum will place a greater emphasis on critical thinking and analysis, which will likely require candidates to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the material and to apply it in a more complex and nuanced manner.

Overall, while it is difficult to predict exactly how the changes will impact the difficulty of the exam, it is likely that the new curriculum will present a greater challenge to candidates and will require them to be even more well-prepared than before.

Is the Practical Skills Module (PSM) mandatory for the CFA Program?

Yes, starting in 2024. Although they are not graded, your exam results will not be released until the PSM is completed (Levels 1 and 2). Only one PSM is mandatory for each exam level, but candidates can complete multiple PSMs if they choose to. These additional PSMs can cover a variety of topics offered at the respective exam level, allowing candidates to broaden their knowledge and enhance their understanding of practical skills relevant to the investment industry.

Is it possible to change the chosen PSM after submission?

Yes, it is possible to change the chosen Practical Skills Module (PSM) after submission for the CFA Program, even if the PSM is required for the 2024 evolution changes. According to the CFAI, “you can drop a PSM and switch to another. The only requirement is that one of them is completed.”

If you have already submitted your enrollment in the PSM and would like to change your selection, you can contact the CFAI directly to request a change. It is important to note that the PSM is only required for candidates who are pursuing the CFA charter on or after January 1, 2024. Therefore, if you are currently registered for the CFA Program and are not planning to take the exam on or after January 1, 2024, you may not need to complete the PSM.

Are the revised study materials included in the CFA exam registration?

Yes, the revised study materials for the CFA Program will be included in the CFA exam registration for candidates taking the exam in 2024 and beyond. The CFAI periodically reviews and updates the exam curriculum to reflect changes in the financial industry and to ensure that the exam remains relevant and rigorous.

The upcoming changes in 2024 will include a revised curriculum with a greater emphasis on topics such as fintech, artificial intelligence, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. These changes will be reflected in the study materials provided by the CFAI and will be included in the exam registration fee.

Candidates who register for the CFA exam in 2024 or later will receive the updated study materials as part of their exam registration. It is important to note that the study materials for each level of the exam will continue to be available in both print and electronic formats, and candidates will have the option to choose the format that best suits their learning style and preferences.

Overall, candidates should ensure that they are using the most up-to-date study materials available from the CFAI in order to prepare effectively for the exam.

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