CIMA vs ACCA vs MBA - Which one to follow in Sri Lanka?

I have heard that the course content in programs like CIMA and ACCA are not very relevant to Sri Lankan context, therefore having an MBA from a local university (e.g. USJP) is better than having CIMA or ACCA.

If I can choose only one, what would be the best program in order to improve my knowledge and business skills, create more value at workplace, and climb the corporate ladder while becoming a highly employable professional here in Sri Lanka?

Please share your valuable insights and experiences.


CIMA and ACCA are highly overrated here in Sri Lanka (e.g. According to official stats, Sri Lanka is the country with the highest number of CIMA students after UK. Some professionals even argue that Sri Lanka is the country with the highest number of CIMA students). The major reason is that the local universities and institutes have miserably failed at producing professionals with up-to-date knowledge in the industry, so the private sector is used to choose a CIMA/ACCA person over a local student for an international project.

Regarding irrelevant content issue mentioned by you, most of the above syllabuses force students to master foreign standards, laws, and business practices to pass their exams (the good side is that these qualifications have become an international passport for career-based migrations due to the same content). However, if you work here in Sri Lanka, you will definitely have knowledge gaps. This is why CIMA people do the local Chartered (ICASL) or similar qualifications too.

Simply, you can consider CIMA or ACCA as the equivalent for bachelors in a local university (maybe even better than that in terms of relevance and employability).

MBA is the qualification that makes you the boss in your office and more suitable for someone with at least a little experience in the field (one year or more). While CIMA, ACCA, or even local bachelors degrees fill you with more knowledge and business skills in a specific domain, MBA makes you ready to accept challenges in any field. This is why not only business people, but also engineers and other professionals take MBA in their 20s or 30s.

When you say “climb the corporate ladder”, it sounds like you are still starting your career, so with that assumption, I recommend CIMA or ACCA. But if you already have a degree with some industry experiences and hope to create more value at work, managing more people, more resources, more projects, winning new opportunities, and dreaming of reaching the top, then go with the MBA.