How do I Register for the CFA Program for the First Time?

Prospective candidates for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program should register online with CFA Institute. This is in fact the only way to register, since CFA Institute no longer accepts registrations by mail.

CFA Institute's online registration process for a first-time candidate is quick and easy. To become a CFA candidate, you first have to create an online user account using your email address, and then enroll in the CFA program and register for the Level I exam.

Key Takeaways

  • Prospective candidates for the Chartered Financial Analyst should register online with CFA Institute.
  • The process begins by asking you to select a date from the Level I exam schedule and then asks you to fill out the required registration information.
  • In order to enroll in the CFA Program, you must meet several education, language, and other qualifications, which are listed below.

The enrollment/registration process begins by asking you to select a date from the Level I exam schedule and then asks you to fill out the rest of the required registration information.

In order to enroll in the CFA Program, you must meet all of the qualifications noted below.

  • Education Requirements:
  1. Bachelor's Degree: You must have completed a bachelor's program or equivalent program and have received a degree from the college/university.
  2. Undergraduate Student: If you are an undergraduate student, your selected exam window for the Level I exam must be 11 months or fewer before your graduation month for your bachelor's degree or equivalent program; you must complete your degree program before sitting for the Level II exam.
  3. Professional Work Experience: If you do not have a bachelor's degree, you can still enroll in the CFA Program through the "Professional Work Experience" path. This requires you to have a combination of 4,000 hours of work experience and/or higher education acquired over a minimum of three sequential years and achieved by the date of registering for the Level I exam. The dates of education and professional work experience cannot overlap, and professional work experience does not need to be investment related.
  • Possess an international travel passport: CFA Institute requires every CFA Program candidate to have a valid international travel passport. If you don't have a passport, you will be unable to register or sit for the CFA exams.
  • Take exams in English: CFA Program exams are only offered in English, so a certain level of English proficiency is required to write the CFA exams.
  • Meet Professional Conduct Admission Criteria: All CFA Program candidates must complete a Professional Conduct Statement to attest their compliance with this requirement.
  • Live in a participating country: CFA Institute cannot provide services to individuals who live in countries subject to sanctions by the U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), including Cuba, North Korea, Syria, or the Crimea region of Ukraine.

For additional information, check out CFA Program Enrollment Requirements FAQs or the Help section, which includes contact information.

Do I need to enroll in the CFA Program and pay the registration fees for the Level I exam at the same time?

Yes, the one-time CFA Program enrollment fee and Level I exam registration fee have to be paid together.

Do I have to submit my college degree or transcript when registering?

No. CFA Institute does not ask for the degree or transcript at the time of registration but may require proof of education to be submitted at any stage to demonstrate that entrance requirements were met.

Do I need any work experience to sit for the Level I exam if I am a final-year student or have a bachelor's degree?

No work experience is required to sit for the Level I exam if you select to enroll in the CFA Program through the bachelor's degree or final-year student requirement. However, you need four years of investment-related work experience to apply to become a regular member of CFA Institute and earn the CFA charter.

The Bottom Line

Provided you meet the requirements listed above, CFA Institute's online registration process for a first-time candidate is quick and easy. Once you've registered and enrolled in the program, you can focus your energy on the more time-consuming process of studying for your CFA exams. (For related reading, see: Pass Your CFA Exams on the First Try.)

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