ACAF program structure

Learn about the CPA Canada Advanced Certificate in Accounting and Finance (ACAF) program structure.

Important change to ACAF program delivery

Effective January 1, 2018, the CPA profession will no longer deliver ACAF applied courses. The profession will continue to offer ACAF prerequisite requirements and technical courses through CPA preparatory courses, while all ACAF courses will be delivered through accredited programs and courses offered by post-secondary institutions (PSIs). Beginning September 2017, select PSIs will begin offering accredited ACAF applied courses. Contact your provincial/regional CPA body for additional information.

Program outline

The ACAF program, offered by the CPA profession, is made up of 11 courses: six technical courses and five applied courses. Each course has six to eight weeks of study, followed by a study week and a final examination with the exception of Accounting Software Application, which requires the completion of an entirely self-paced learning component and an online final exam.

Technical course exemptions are available to those who demonstrate completion of substantially equivalent courses at a PSI. Applied courses are available exclusively through CPA Canada, with the exception of Accounting Software Application. Check your provincial/regional website for course schedules.

A flow-chart graphic showing The CPA Canada Advanced Certificate in Accounting and Finance (ACAF) course map. 

Technical courses

These six courses offered by the profession build on the typical two-year college accounting diploma program, providing intermediate- to advanced-level technical content in financial reporting, corporate finance, audit and assurance, taxation, management accounting and information technology.

Note: All entry courses and technical courses must be successfully completed before enrolling in any applied courses. You may take entry and technical courses through the CPA profession or from a post-secondary institution.

Applied courses

These five courses offered by the profession enhance your existing accounting education and experience with the additional technical knowledge, IT applications, communications and workplace skills needed to progress in your career.

  • Ethics and Workplace Skills introduces students to the business scenario analysis framework, which is the problem-solving approach used throughout the applied courses in the ACAF program. The framework underscores the importance of business and accounting ethics.
  • The elective courses provide more depth in areas of particular interest to employers and students, such as external audit, personal and corporate taxation, public sector financial management and not-for-profit management.
  • The Business Applications course requires students to apply the ACAF business scenario analysis framework to a single comprehensive business scenario, tying the program together.

Ethics and Workplace Skills and Accounting Software Applications are prerequisites for specific applied courses.

Note: Currently, applied courses are only available through CPA Canada, with the exception of Accounting Software Application. Effective January 1, 2018, the CPA profession will no longer deliver ACAF applied courses; instead, accredited ACAF programs and applied courses will be delivered by post-secondary institutions. Beginning September 2017, select PSIs will begin offering the entire ACAF program. Contact your provincial/regional CPA body for additional information. 

ACAF National examination

The ACAF National Examination is a new program requirement that will come into effect January 1, 2018. The exam evaluates students’ understanding of the information taught in the Business Applications applied course and will be administered through the CPA provincial/regional bodies. See the ACAF National Examination Policies for more details.

Course prerequisites

ACAF Course Prerequisites Chart 

Course length

Courses offeredd by the profession range from six-to-eight weeks with a three-to-four-hour exam. Each course features a combination of quizzes and weekly assignments.

Note: Course length may vary based on individual PSI curricula.

Delivery

ACAF courses offered by the profession are offered online; you can take them from anywhere in Canada or around the world. Course exams will take place in-person and are offered across Canada and internationally in designated locations within Bermuda, the Caribbean, the Americas and Asia-Pacific markets. Contact your provincial/regional CPA body for information on the course delivery options offered by PSIs.

Language

The ACAF is an undergraduate level academic program, requiring proficiency in English. Success depends on your ability to understand and articulate ideas orally and in written form with clear descriptions and explanations. It is strongly recommended that you have achieved a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark of at least Level 7 in reading, writing, comprehension and listening at the time of enrolment. ACAF is not offered in French at this time.

Expected time commitment

ACAF entry and technical course requirements taken online through the CPA profession typically require 12-15 hours of effort per week over 8 weeks, or through an equivalent course at a PSI, typically, over 13 weeks with lecture and self-study time.

The CPA-delivered applied ACAF courses typically require 10-12 hours of effort per week over 10 weeks with the exception of Ethics and Workplace Skills, which takes eight weeks, and Accounting Software Application, which is self-paced and requires a total of 12 hours of study time.

Note: Expected time commitment may vary based on individual PSI curricula.

Course Assessments

Most courses are assessed through a combination of term work and a final examination. Please check with your provincial/regional body for further details.