Is the qualifying programme right for you?

Undertaking a professional qualification like the ICSA qualifying programme is a big decision and requires careful consideration. This page is offers things to consider before registering for the qualifying programme, plus tips for preparation if you think you might need a bit more background information before making a decision.

You can also discuss the relevance and suitability of your qualifications and experience with our Members and Students Team, call +44 (0)20 7580 4741 or contact us

Think about...eligibility

Entry requirements
To register as an ICSA student you must be 16 years of age or over.

The qualifying programme is set at levels six and seven on the UK Higher Education Framework – the equivalent of a final year undergraduate degree and a masters programme, respectively. If you have no degree-level qualifications or relevant professional experience, think about the level and breadth of the qualification before registering.

Language
All ICSA study material is produced in English. All examinations are all conducted in English.

If English is not your first language, we recommend a score of six or above on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or equivalent. It will help if you have previously studied other subjects or have done essay-style assessment in English before.

Think about...time commitment

The vast majority of our students study while they work, so it's good to think about time commitment required for the qualifying programme and how it might fit into your existing schedule.

We recommend 150-200 hours of study per module – incorporating tuition, reading the study text, wider reading, online support, study time with other candidates, practice assessments and the exam. Exam are held twice a year in June and November. You can take a maximum of two exams in a single session.

Thinking about how many modules you will be taking and how many hours per week you can dedicate to study will give you an indication of how long it might take to complete the qualifying programme. 

For example, if you took the standard route and did a single module at every exam session, that would require a minimum of six hours' study per week. If you passed the exam each time, you could complete the qualifying programme in as little as four years.

Think about...tuition

If you think you're ready to start studying the qualifying programme, it's worth considering how you want to study: either buying tuition with one of our registered tuition providers or taking the self-study route.

There is no requirement that you sign up for classes to study the qualifying programme, so you may decide that studying with the recommended text and other sources on your own is sufficient preparation, especially if you have studied and passed exams in the subject area before. 

However, ICSA strongly recommends that as well as registering with us, you sign up with one of our Registered Tuition Providers (RTPs) to study for the course – you may wish to contact more than one of our RTPs to discuss your study options before registering.

Think about...student rules and regulations

It is the bit that people often prefer to skip over, but make sure you have read our student rules and regulations before applying.

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