Already earned your CFA level 3? No need to write the GMAT!

Niki da Silva, Director, Recruitment and AdmissionsThe Rotman admissions team has always taken pride in our reputation for innovation, and that tradition continues today as we announce a GMAT waiver for all successful CFA Level 3 candidates!

We believe (based on the CFA website) that Rotman is the first top-ranked global business school to update our admission requirements for this select group of MBA applicants, and we are excited to add this to our track record of innovation in business school admissions.

At Rotman, we have seen an increase in the number of candidates who want to combine their CFA designation with an MBA. Earning both credentials makes for a powerful combination that can give you a significant edge. For candidates pursuing a progressive career as a leader / innovator in the Finance space, one of the best ways to stand out is to choose both a CFA and and MBA, rather than opting for just one route.

Since the GMAT can sometimes act as a barrier, preventing candidates with all three levels of the CFA from applying to business school, waiving the GMAT requirement for applicants with CFA level 3 is a logical next step for us. This is especially true for Rotman, one of the top 10 business schools in the world for finance, because the pool of CFA candidates is a strong source of our talent.

Before making this change we thought carefully about ensuring that the holistic admissions process would still allow us to evaluate the critical criteria typically represented by the GMAT score and I wanted to give you some insight into our thinking.

Our application process is tremendously rigorous. Our evaluation criteria include essays, interviews, undergraduate GPA level and a video essay. When combined with the deep content of the CFA exams, this comprehensive package will give the admissions committee information equivalent to the skills and competencies represented by a GMAT score.

There is already a precedent for this type of GMAT exception: the Rotman School currently waives the GMAT requirement for candidates applying to the University of Toronto’s JD/MBA program who have taken the LSAT test with a score over 165.

One of our core principles is to continue to innovate in our admissions process and think critically about what we require, and ultimately how we screen talent for Rotman’s MBA Program. This update is a change applicable to candidates for both the full-time and part-time programs and I look forward to hearing feedback from CFA candidates on this change. As always, feel free to contact us with questions at


15 thoughts on “Already earned your CFA level 3? No need to write the GMAT!

  1. Terrible decison by Rotman. The GMAT is a benchmark of measuring the quality of applicants and the school. This decision will impact the reputation of the school.

    • I appreciate your feedback and would be happy to chat further. The school values the GMAT and I do appreciate the ‘signal’ value this sends (our current average is the highest in Canada) about the calibre of the institution. Making the GMAT optional for a very small number of candidates (we will see a single digit number of candidates in the class this far through the CFA) will have little to no impact on our average, and therefore no subsequent impact on our reputation. This is also simply an option to be waived for candidates, but many will still choose to write the GMAT to boost their profile for additional scholarship consideration and also to align with the recruiting processes in potential industry targets post MBA as some firms use the GMAT as part of their ‘scorecard’ to evaluating MBA talent. We are committed to discussing these considerations with relevant candidates. The Rotman School is places tremendous value on our reputation as innovators, and this decision further strengthens our tradition of innovation and may be leading the way for a more holistic and individualized evaluation of candidates driven by their profile/talent pool vs. the School’s standardized requirements. Thank for you taking the time to comment.

  2. Niki, in my opinion it is a step in the right direction to create a niche market to bolster recruitment from financial firms. Having said that, what still boggles my mind is how there is no accelerated MBA option for those with an accredited undergraduate business degree. Thoughts?

    • Thanks for your feedback. I’m quite sure that Rotman will continue to explore opportunities and offerings in the MBA space and it is great to hear that this model would be an attractive one!

      • It’s borderline appalling, really. With a majority of Canadian MBA schools offering an accelerated program, it’s a shame this hasn’t been implemented yet. In my opinion, it deters those with an undergraduate business background from attending, let alone a CFA Charterholder. In fact, I’ll go out as far as to say that a majority of CFA candidates have an undergraduate degree in business. Having said that, why would they come to Rotman if they can go to any other comparable school with an accelerated program? Just ask Park, he would agree.

      • Niki, so my follow-up comment that expresses valid discussion, and legitimate concerns about improvement get censored? I understand this is partially a recruitment page for prospective students (myself included), but I also believe Rotman should be transparent and proactive on these issues. Lack of transparency to address concerns on this website (or on this case being selective) illustrates ignorance and paints a positively skewed picture for prospective students. Fact.

        • Hi Robert,

          Appreciate the follow-up, my apologies as this was simply an oversight, not intentional. As I’m sure you can imagine, our Admissions blog isn’t the place for me to comment about internal strategy discussions about Rotman’s plans 🙂 I also appreciate that the 20-month Program format isn’t the best fit for all students, and wish you the best of luck exploring your options. We do, however, have a large % of our class with Bcomm backgrounds who do prefer the current Program format. You can check out our class profile here:


  3. Title is a little misleading – a level 3 candidate is someone who has registered for or is awaiting the results of their level 3 examination. Someone who has completed all three levels and has not yet earned the work experience is just that – someone who’s passed all three levels.

    But I digress, this move should get you access to a few more choice candidates. As someone who’s completed the MBA and is taking lvl 3 this june, I think it’s a good move.

  4. Can you please touch on how this change works in terms of ranking candidates? (how Rotman is translating CFA Level 3 completion into a GMAT score to compare candidates competing for a spot). Given the difficulty in comparison I’m assuming it would count as a mean GMAT and strong extra curricular, no?

    • Hello Greg,

      Given we do consider CFA level 3 completion as a substitute for the GMAT- which itself is a very tricky exam- just know that we regard CFA level 3 completion very highly! It will definitely work in your favour in your application. 🙂

      Hope that helps!

  5. Hello!

    Just for confirmation, a Level 3 Candidate is someone who is enrolled for sitting in the next exam for the level 3 of the CFA, in other words he/she has passed the CFA Level 2 and is enrolled for the Level 3. A Level 3 CFA Candidate is different than someone who passed the level 3 of the CFA. Since I am a Level 3 CFA Candidate (I passed the CFA L2 and I am currently studying for the CFA L3), can you guys answer me if I am a candidate for the GMAT waiver? Thank you so much!

    • Sure Rafael – you need to have passed the L3 to be eligible for the waiver. You don’t need to be a charter holder. I hope that helps with the distinction. If not, please let us know!

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