CFA® Eligibility Requirements

Your Exam Checklist

If you're thinking about getting your CFA® charter, you've probably heard of the three exams you need to pass. And for an exam as prestigious as the CFA, low pass rates keep the charter exclusive. The primary requirements for candidate eligibility and verification to get started are covered in the four steps below and are part of the CFA registration procedure for the Level 1 exam. The only additional requirements for the CFA Level 2 and 3 exams are to have passed the previous level.

CFA Level 1 Exam Requirements

You must have a bachelor's degree or be in your final year of college, four years of professional full-time work experience, or at least four years of college and professional experience. Aside from these basic requirements, the candidate must also meet additional documentation and verification requirements.

Educational Requirements

The CFAI offers two options to the candidate:

  1. Bachelor's Degree: You must have completed a Bachelor's or equivalent program and hold a college/university degree. Consult your college or university if you are unsure if your program is comparable.


  2. Undergraduate Student: Your chosen exam window must be 11 months or less before your bachelor's degree or equivalent program's graduation month. It is essential to finish your degree program before taking your Level 2 exam.

Professional Work Experience

You must have about 4,000 hours of work experience or higher education acquired over three years before registering for the Level 1 exam. Make sure that your education and work experience timelines do not overlap.

But what exactly does "professional work experience" mean? Professional work experience requires specialized knowledge, education, or advanced skills. Professional work experience involves the application of higher-level judgment and business skills, including

  1. Leadership and teamwork
  2. Business communications
  3. Critical thinking and problem solving
  4. Time management
  5. Professional judgment
  6. Analytical skills
  7. Adaptability

The CFA Institute may request proof of education (copy of diploma, mark sheet, or other relevant documents) or work experience at any time after registration (letter of employment, salary slips, or other relevant documents). The process ensures that the candidate meets all the entrance requirements. Failure to provide requested documentation appropriate to entrance requirements may result in the cancellation of current exam registration, withholding of exam results, and even disciplinary action by the CFA Institute Professional Conduct Program.

International Travel Passport

Having a valid international travel passport is a requirement for taking the exams. If your international travel passport expires before your exam date, you may still register. But, before exam day, you must renew and update your account credentials with the new information. If the information in your account does not exactly match the details on your passport, or if your passport is expired, you will be unable to take the exam and will forfeit your registration fee.

Here are the details that should be visible and included on your passport.

The United Nations agency ICAO has determined that all non machine-readable passports are considered expired as of 24 November 2015. Therefore, international travel passports that are not machine-readable (including handwritten passports) will be considered invalid for entry into the CFA exam.

A machine readable passport has two lines of text as letters, numbers and chevrons (<<<<<) at the bottom of the data page (the page containing your photo and personal information) of your passport.

English Proficiency

Beyond knowledge of the CFAI curriculum, the exams are also a test of clear communication and self-expression. Since the exam is conducted entirely in English, knowledge and context of the language is essential. Especially with Level 3 introducing an essay format, strong writing skills including proper sentence construction, and concise responses is imperative to practice and master.

Professional Conduct

CFA Institute upholds the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct (Code and Standards) to ensure the integrity of CFA Institute membership, designations, and exam programs. The Professional Conduct Program oversees the disciplinary process at CFAI for conducting investigations into allegations, determining violations, imposing sanctions, conducting disciplinary proceedings, and disclosing violations.

Countries Eligible for CFA

CFAI, as a US corporation, abides by the US Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) rules, which prohibit US institutions from doing business in certain countries and with specific individuals and entities. CFAI cannot conduct business with citizens of Cuba, North Korea, Syria, or Ukraine's Crimea region.

Before registering for a CFAI program, it is recommended that candidates who work outside of the United States look up their employer's name on the OFAC SDN list.

Failure to adhere to the above mentioned regulations can result in your registration being canceled with no refund eligibility.

CFA Level 2 Exam Requirements

You must have passed the Level 1 exam and completed your bachelor's degree to sit for the Level 2 exam. You will have 20 vignettes, each of which will be followed by six questions. Like the Level 1 exam, Level 2 is divided into two equal sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

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CFA Level 3 Exam Requirements

To attempt the CFA Level 3 exam, you must have passed Level 2. The Level 3 exam comprises 8-11 constructed response questions and ten vignettes divided into the morning and afternoon sessions.

Check Your Eligibility

We understand that having many eligibility requirements can be perplexing at times. Here's a checklist to ensure you always have the list of requirements nearby, reducing the chances of missing anything.

Your Eligibility Checklist (excluding fee payments)
First Timer (Looking to attempt the CFA Level 1 exam)

Must have one of the following requirements checked

 Bachelor's Degree
 Undergraduate student
 Professional Work Experience
 An International Travel Passport
 English Language Proficiency
 Meet the 'Professional Conduct Admission Criteria’
 Do you live in a participating country?
Attempting Level 2


 Have a Bachelor’s degree
 Cleared Level 1 exam
Attempting Level 3


 Cleared Level 2 exam

What’s Next After Passing All the Exams

While qualifying all three levels of the CFA exam places you among one of the best, you will not be eligible for any charter (CFA) specific jobs unless you have officially registered with the CFA Institute as a CFA charterholder. After passing the Level 3 Exam, you must have completed at least 4,000 hours of relevant work experience in three years, become a regular member of the CFA Institute, and officially join a local CFA Society.

Your CFA Regular Membership application should include the following:

  1. Two to three professional references.
  2. Payment of $275 (The annual fee for first-time members can vary depending on the month they decide to join. Use the CFAI chart of monthly prorated fees to understand what your membership will cost.
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Technically, no! But then, whether you can attempt the CFA exam also depends on your chosen enrollment requirements. If you enroll through the Bachelor’s Degree or Final-Year Student requirement, you can only sit for the Level 1 exam. Suppose you decide to enroll through the Professional Work Experience requirement. In that case, you must have 4,000 hours of professional work experience or higher education acquired over three consecutive years by the registration date.

Your experience should include evaluating or applying financial, economic, and/or statistical data as part of the investment decision-making process; supervising those who do so; or teaching such activities. You must have also completed at least 4,000 hours of experience in the last 36 months. Qualified hours must be directly related to the investment decision-making process or producing a work product that informs or adds value to that process. Experience gained through full-time, part-time, or remote work arrangements prior to, during, or after your participation in the CFA® Program may qualify.

Read more about the CFA Exam

Wondering how/where/when to register for the CFA exam? Visit the link for a more detailed and up-to-date overview of the exam costs, fees, and registration.

Worried about missing out on important dates for the CFA exam? Here’s a handy list of new dates and frequencies for 2022–2023 to ensure seamless preparation.

Looking to understand the CFA scoring process better? Here’s everything you need to know about CFA scoring, pass rates, and the Minimum Passing Score (MPS).

Do you intend to take the CFA exam? Visit this quick guide for more information on everything you need to know before taking the exam.

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