The qualification that delivers more for you and public services

The CIPFA Professional Accountancy Qualification (CIPFA PQ) is the only one of its kind.

It will give your staff all the skills expected of a modern public finance professional. They will also receive relevant training in business, strategy and leadership. We deliver all this in the context of your business.

In 2016 we introduced online exams and invigilation. This saves you time and money by reducing the need for students to be away from the office. We also introduced more practice exams to give your trainees the best possible preparation.

2017 will see more changes as we increase the number of exam sittings from two, to four a year. This enables greater flexibility around your busy schedules and year end activity. 

This summer the CIPFA Education and Training Centre (CETC) will deliver a new online learning option (see below). Taking advantage of new technology, we're further advancing our study delivery and flexibility.  

We're committed to providing the highest standard of learning and a return on your investment from day one.

The CIPFA Professional Accountancy Qualification

Learning with CIPFA is changing

New online learning option

We’ve listened to feedback from our employer partners and we’re pleased to tell you about some exciting changes.

This summer the CIPFA Education and Training Centre (CETC) is launching a new online learning experience. 

Development work is well underway to create an easy-to-use, flexible platform that provides a first-class learning experience for CIPFA students and the best value for money for you as their employers.

The new service will offer all the features expected of a contemporary online learning system including live virtual classrooms and online discussion forums. The platform is being developed with input and guidance from CIPFA’s specialist tutors, all of whom have significant experience in public finance training and in delivering the CIPFA Professional Accountancy Qualification (CIPFA PQ).

As part of these changes, we will also be simplifying our face-to-face, online and self-study learning packages. We’ll be making it easier to create a blended study bundle that works for you and your organisation.

We’ll be keeping our current students and employers up to date on the changes and improvements over the coming weeks.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the changes and what these mean for you, please call us or get in touch by using the link below.

CIPFA Customer services: +44 (0)20 7543 5600 


The only professional accountancy qualification that truly delivers the wide range of technical, behavioural and commercial skills expected of a modern public finance professional

Our syllabus, case studies and practical experience portfolio (PEP) scored highest in relevance, across the board, when compared to three other leading accountancy institutes.


Bespoke learning packages built around you and your organisation

We can custom design a study and assessment plan to suit your needs, incorporating face-to-face, online and distance learning.


CIPFA creates experts who add value to your organisation from day one

Our syllabus is designed to ensure that students rapidly acquire key financial skills that can be easily applied in the context of your business – giving you an immediate return on your investment.


Talented, motivated staff that are committed to improving public services

80% of CIPFA students choose to remain in the public sector after qualifying. 72% of CIPFA members work at management level or above.


Comprehensive training with exemplary pass rates, money well spent

Your staff will gain technical accountancy, business management and strategy and leadership skills – helping to reduce the requirement for further training in these areas.

CIPFA students earn higher final level pass rates than ACCA and CIMA with 80% passing first time.*

* Source: FRC, Professional Oversights Board Key Facts and Trends 2013

Minimum requirements

  • Three GCSEs (grades A-C) and two A-levels (grade A-C), or the Scottish or Republic of Ireland equivalents. Subjects must include mathematics and English at either level.
  • ­BTEC and SCOTVEC national certificates are also accepted.
  • The minimum vocational requirement is NVQ/GNVQ level 3, or Scottish equivalent.
  • ­If your staff do not meet the academic requirements above, they can still become a CIPFA student if they are 21 or over and have over three years’ relevant work experience.

There are a range of alternative entry routes for AATs, fully qualified accountants and senior professionals.

Find out more


We also offer exemptions based on previous qualifications of similar level.

Exemptions are granted on a paper-by-paper basis.

All exemption information listed is indicative, based on the modules usually studied as part of the degree in question. All exemption applications must be accompanied by full transcripts. No exemptions are guaranteed until CIPFA have reviewed transcripts to ensure sufficient syllabus coverage.

Find out more

Other Benefits 

With CIPFA membership, your staff gain:

  • Chartered accountancy status and the globally-recognised CPFA designation
  • Global networking opportunities with public finance leaders
  • Technical help from industry experts
  • Public finance CPD support and resources
  • Outstanding member-only technical resources
  • Contact with industry peers at events
  • Conference and sector updates

Professional Certificate:

  • Financial Accounting
  • Management Accounting
  • Company Financial Reporting
  • Audit and Assurance

Professional Diploma:

  • Business and Change Management
  • Corporate Governance and Law
  • Financial Management
  • Public Service Financial Reporting
  • Strategy and Policy Development
  • Taxation

Strategic stage:

  • Strategic Public Finance
  • Strategic Case Study


On completion of these levels and submitting your Practical Experience Portfolio (PEP), you gain our Professional Qualification, full membership to CIPFA and the right to use the globally respected 'Chartered Public Finance Accountant' (CPFA) designation.

The journey doesn’t end at qualification

Your CIPFA qualified staff will have our full support throughout their careers and can join their regional member network for ongoing peer interaction and guidance, as well as access to exclusive regional training and events.

You can also take your qualified staff to the next level, enhancing their skills and extending their business reach, via our accredited training courses, reciprocal agreements and specialist development‑programmes.

CPFA to CA Top Up

Once qualified, students now have the opportunity to top-up their qualification through the ICAS Pathways route, adding Chartered Accountant (CA) to their professional recognition and equipping them with enhanced private sector expertise. This will ensure they are on top of an increasingly commercial agenda in public service provision.

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Integrated Qualification in Audit (IQA)

This ground breaking integrated qualification combines the unrivalled expertise of CIPFA and ICAS and reflects the evolution of the audit environment and the mixed economy, where public services are increasingly commissioned through private sector contracts. CIPFA qualified staff can fast track and complete this in as little as 12 months.

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Post Graduate Certificate in Finance Business Partnering

Designed to demonstrate how public finance professionals can support their organisations in a strategic and operational context. The qualification provides‑a‑range of best practice knowledge and skills, and enables practical application of learning back in the workplace. Modules include Fundamentals of‑Business Partnering, Technical and Professional Skills and Behavioural Skills.

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Future Leaders Academy

This training programme forms an integral part of CIPFA’s wider management and leadership pathway and focuses on how to manage individuals and teams, improve performance, communicate effectively and influence colleagues and senior managers. It will also allow your staff to discuss common issues with peers and leadership experts in an open and inclusive environment, giving them practical skills to bring back to your organisation.

Find out more