CFA program

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The CFA Program is a globally recognized, graduate level curriculum that provides a strong foundation of real-world investment analysis and portfolio management skills along with the practical knowledge you need in today’s investment industry. It also emphasizes the highest ethical and professional standards.


Each year, tens of thousands of candidates enroll in the CFA Program and sit for the exams in test centers all over the world. Completing the CFA Program confirms a mastery of the rigorous CFA curriculum, signifies passing all three exam levels, and is one of the requirements for earning the CFA charter.


To earn the CFA charter you must have four years of qualifying investment work experience, become a member of CFA Institute, pledge to adhere to the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, apply for membership to a local CFA member society, and complete the CFA Program.


The CFA Program includes a series of three exams that are offered in test centers around the world. These three exams — Level I, Level II, and Level III — must be passed sequentially as one of the requirements for earning a CFA charter.


You may register for one exam at a time. Once you have received your exam results, you may register for the next one. If you fail an exam, we encourage you to re-take it.


Exams are offered in English only, in order to ensure global consistency, both in administering the exam questions and in grading candidate responses.


Exam Content


The progressive nature of the three different levels means that you need to adjust your learning focus as you advance through the program. For example, the questions at Levels II and III require higher-order thinking than the questions at Level I.


In general,

the Level I exam asks you basic knowledge and comprehension questions focused on investment tools; some questions will require analysis. 

the Level II exam further emphasizes analysis along with applying your knowledge.

the Level III exam focuses on synthesizing all of the concepts and analytical methods in a variety of applications for effective portfolio management and wealth planning.


The best example of the different cognitive levels required for each exam level is in the area of ethical and professional standards. The ethics curriculum — the Standards of Practice Handbook — is identical for each exam level. However, you will be presented with different types of questions about this content:

Level I exam questions typically test your knowledge of the ethical and professional standards.

Level II exam questions test how you apply those standards to situations analysts face.

Level III exam questions test how you apply the standards in a portfolio management and compliance context