Accelerated Route

Our fast-track programme designed exclusively for those in senior government roles with substantial strategic and public financial management responsibilities, who don’t yet hold a professional accounting qualification.

Why choose CIPFA?

We offer you:

  • an intensive and highly rewarding route through the CIPFA Professional Accounting Qualification (CIPFA PAQ) 
  • a clear pathway to the internationally recognised Chartered Public Finance Accountant (CPFA) designation, signalling your authority, technical competency and public sector expertise
  • technical, strategic and leadership skills that are immediately applicable to your job role 
  • expert coaching and guidance from qualified trainers experienced in taking senior post-holders through to qualification
  • opportunities for peer-to-peer support and interaction throughout the programme 
  • access to a wealth of professional resources as a CIPFA student and on becoming a CIPFA Chartered Member 
  • ongoing support and professional development opportunities throughout your public finance career

Programme content

The Accelerated Route focuses on enhancing your core technical competencies while taking into account your pre-existing knowledge and experience.

  • You are required to complete the seven 'Examined modules' from the CIPFA PAQ listed below.
  • The remaining five modules are optional and are not examined.
  • The 'Recommended self-study' modules Financial Accounting and Audit & Assurance offer an essential foundation for the material covered in the Public Sector Financial Reporting module in term two. Implementing Business Change is key to preparing for the final Strategic Case Study exam.
  • The 'Optional self-study' modules – Management Accounting and Tax & Law – are ideal if you wish to update or refresh your knowledge on these topics in advance of the final exam.

Term 1

Examined modules:

Developing Strategy and Data Analysis  

Recommended self-study:

Ethics e-learning

Financial Accounting 

Audit and Assurance 

Optional self-study:

Management Accounting 

Term 2

Examined modules:

Business Planning and Financial Management 

Business Reporting 

Term 3

Examined modules:

Governance and Risk Management 

Recommended self-study:

Implementing Business Change 

Optional self-study:

Tax and Law (UK and international options) 

Term 4

Examined modules:

Strategic Public Financial Management 

Public Sector Financial Reporting (UK and international options) 

Term 5

Examined modules:

Strategic Case Study 

How is the programme taught?

For each of the seven examined modules, you can choose to study via live web classes or online via pre-recorded classes, using CIPFA's online learning platform. 

Optional face-to-face revision sessions are also available. These are currently run in London, but we will consider other locations, based on demand. Please discuss this with the team when applying for the programme.

You will have access to the learning materials for all 12 CIPFA PAQ modules. These include e-learning, workshop recordings and extensive written materials, mini projects, directed self-study and structured workplace tasks and learning activities – all accessed online via our virtual learning environment.

Throughout your studies, you will be encouraged to connect and interact with your fellow programme participants, through our online discussion forum.


Throughout the programme, you will be supported by our CIPFA Education & Training Centre (CETC) tutors. In addition to their exceptional subject knowledge and teaching skills, all have extensive experience working in the public sector. 


The Accelerated Route demands a significant degree of commitment and time. The programme is completed in two years and each module will take approximately 100 hours to complete, including all tutor-led sessions, self-study and revision. This will vary between programme participants, and between modules.


You will be assessed via online exams with virtual invigilation by webcam. You can sit your exams wherever you choose, for example, at your place of work or at home. 

In addition to the exams, you will be required to submit a CIPFA Portfolio. This is a written log that documents the knowledge, skills, and behaviours you have gained through work experience, while completing your studies. Once you have submitted your portfolio, you will be awarded full membership to CIPFA and your Chartered Public Finance Accountant (CPFA) designation.

Start dates 

The programme is run twice a year, starting in March (with the first exam sitting in June) and in September (with the first exam sitting in December).

Entry requirements

The Accelerated Route is open to senior public finance professionals who do not currently hold a professional accounting qualification. You must have been working in a senior finance role with strategic leadership and financial responsibilities for at least two years. More junior level employees who have been in long-term acting management positions in finance for a significant period of time are also welcome to apply. 

As part of the application process, you are required to submit your up-to-date CV and complete a letter of application of no more than 1,000 words giving your reasons for applying for the course.


The Accelerated Route programme costs £9,995 +VAT, payable in advance.

The course fee includes:

  • Tuition and all course materials
  • Exam fees plus one resit for each module
  • Certification

In addition, you will need to pay an annual Student Membership fee, plus an initial application fee.

Ongoing requirements

In order to maintain your CPFA status, you will be required to pay a yearly membership fee.

You will also be subject to the professional standards and conduct requirements of CIPFA. These include a minimum of 20 hours of relevant and verifiable Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activity in any one CPD year.

You will also be required to complete an Annual Member Statement (AMS), which confirms your completion of CPD requirements. 

Apply now

Complete and submit our online application form. We will confirm whether your application has been successful within 10 working days.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the programme, please contact:

T: +44 (0)20 7543 5600