Investment Foundations Program FAQs

The Investment Foundations® Program is now available for free to everyone worldwide. The final examination is completed online so that anyone with an Internet connection can complete the program at their convenience. The change to a free, fully online program helps CFA Institute achieve our goal for the program, to become a new standard of investment industry literacy, and help us build a more diverse, inclusive, and talented industry.

We have developed the following guide to assist you during this transition period.

Investment Foundations Program

We are increasing access to the Investment Foundations content by making it available as a free online program. By removing barriers posed by test center accessibility and the associated costs of testing, we can increase the number of people who can take the program, and so further our commitment to building market integrity.


The curriculum and content will remain the same. What is changing is how the content will be delivered and testing administered. This will now happen exclusively online through our Learning Ecosystem.


Ethics are at the core of CFA Institute, and we will expect Investment Foundations Program candidates to understand the importance of ethical conduct and sign a pledge as they sit the assessment. Many financial services firms require their employees to complete annual compliance training online, pass an exam, and certify the results. We see the evolved Investment Foundations Program in the same light. The curriculum will remain free and accessible to all, just as it was when the exam was offered at a test center.


Yes, exam takers will need to sign a pledge prior to completion of the exam.


For the professionals who have already earned the certificate, the knowledge gained from the program will continue to be important and relevant for years to come. We are confident that the high-quality curriculum and exam content can be even more valuable as a mission-driven, free, online program. By removing commercial barriers, the program will expand and access to investment industry knowledge will be increased. The curriculum and exam retain the same high quality going forward as they always have.


No. The decision to make the program available as a free online program does not devalue the knowledge acquired by those participants who previously received a certificate. This decision was made so we can offer the program to a much wider participant pool by removing barriers of test center access and cost.


Yes, successful program completion still results in certification. Certificate holders will be able to use a digital badge and print a paper certificate.


We are delighted by your firm’s interest in the program. The program is already being offered for free from September onwards, and employees are most welcome to continue registering, studying, and sitting the exam as we transition the assessment from computer-based testing to online through our learning ecosystem.


Candidates will still be provided 180 days to learn the material and sit the assessment in order to earn the certificate. After 25 February 2019, candidates will have two attempts per registration to pass the exam. Even if they are not successful on either examination attempt, they can re-register and receive two more attempts in any given calendar year.


Candidates can register twice in a calendar year, attempting the examination twice each registration. Ultimately, candidates will have four opportunities in a year to earn the certificate.


The examination will have 100 Multiple Choice Questions to be completed in 100 minutes.


Candidates need to create an account with CFA Institute and register for the program through our website. Upon completing registration, candidates will get access to the Learning Ecosystem and all study materials through our Candidate Resources section on our website.


Yes, we will update the curriculum periodically to reflect changes within the investment industry.


Yes, the print curriculum can be purchased through Amazon CreateSpace. You can find Volume 1 here, and Volume 2 here.


You will have 180 days from the date of registration to successfully complete the program by passing the online exam. Once you have registered, you must meet the following requirements in order to ‘unlock’ and take the final examination:

  1. Wait at least 30 days from the time of registering
  2. Obtain a score of 70 or better on Mock Exam A
  3. Obtain a score of 70 or better on Mock Exam B

Any active registrations that are eligible for a refund will not be canceled, and candidates are welcome to sit the exam and earn the Investment Foundations certificate. We request that any candidates who choose not to sit for the assessment make sure to cancel any exam appointment they have scheduled through Pearson VUE.


Exam registration was made free beginning 4 September 2018. The free online assessment will be available in early March.


Questions should be directed to the CFA Institute Global Contact Center.


When the new Learning Ecosystem platform is launched, there will be a complete ‘refresh’ and any saved personal study aids (e.g., highlighting, mock exam completion, notes) will no longer be available. The last day you will be able to view any of your saved personal study aids is 22 February. We recommend that you print a Summary Report from the Mock Exam tab on the left navigation. This report will show your topic area by performance so you know where to focus your study efforts in the new platform.

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