ACCA Foundation in Accountancy vs Diploma in Accounting: What’s the Difference?

ACCA Foundation in Accountancy or Diploma in Accounting — which one should you choose? We compare the two programmes here.

Updated 01 Aug 2022

ACCA FIA vs Diploma in Accounting: What’s the Difference?- Feature-Image
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So, you want to be an accountant. You are organised, like solving puzzles and shine when it comes to numbers. What's more, you know that accountants are the lifeblood of any organisation.

But how do you go from fresh-faced SPM leaver to trusted accountant?

Well, two of the most popular programmes are the ACCA Foundation in Accountancy (ACCA FIA) and the Diploma in Accounting. Both are worthy options that can propel you to a successful career in accounting. But which should you pick?

In this article, we compare the differences between ACCA FIA and Diploma in Accounting.

#1. Pathway: ACCA FIA is for entry into ACCA while Diploma in Accounting enables you to both degree and ACCA


The ACCA FIA is a foundation-level programme that prepares you for entry into ACCA and is the fastest pathway for ACCA. As the programme is tailored for ACCA, it can only be used to progress to ACCA and cannot be used as a qualification to pursue a diploma or a degree.

On the other hand, a Diploma in Accounting is a valid qualification forentry into a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and ACCA professional accountancy. What’s more,you can also use it to apply for a job.

While a diploma may sound a lot more flexible, ACCA FIA allows you to achieve professional accountancy status quicker due to its shorter programme duration. Therefore, if you already know that you want to pursue ACCA, the ACCA FIA programme is a better choice.


Interested in pursuing these programmes? You're in luck as ACCA FIA, Diploma in Accounting and ACCA can all be found at Taylor’s. Click here to enquire about these programmes.

#2. Awarding Body: ACCA FIA is awarded by ACCA while Diploma in Accounting is awarded by the education institution


ACCA FIA is a programme developed by the ACCA professional body. This means that it also carries with it the international prestige that ACCA holds.

A Diploma in Accounting, on the other hand, is awarded by the education institutions that offer the programme. Therefore, the diploma's recognition depends heavily on the institution. This means that one diploma may be more distinguished than the other.

The difference in recognition should not be the deciding factor when choosing what to study — but it should be something to take note of. If you think pursuing a Diploma in Accounting is in your best interest, you can always overcome this issue by choosing to study at an internationally recognised university.


According to the QS World University Rankings 2023, Taylor’s is among the top 1% of universities globally and the no. 1 private university in Southeast Asia for 3 years in a row. Want to study at this elite institution? Learn more about it here.

#3. Level of Qualification: Diploma in Accounting is a higher level of qualification


ACCA FIA is an entry-level award that’s equivalent to foundation. In comparison, a Diploma in Accounting is of a higher level.

This difference in level won’t matter much if your endgame is to pursue ACCA, as both are valid pathways. However, this could be a consideration point if you're in a rush to start working. If so, a Diploma in Accounting may serve your needs better.

#4. Entry Requirements: ACCA FIA has higher entry requirements than Diploma in Accounting


Another important consideration factor is the entry requirements for both programmes.

To be eligible for the ACCA FIA programme, you will need a minimum 5 credits including in Mathematics and English. On the other hand, a Diploma in Accounting typically calls for a minimum of 3 credits and a pass in Mathematics, English, Bahasa Malaysia and History, depending on the institution.

The difference in entry requirements doesn’t mean that a student pursuing ACCA FIA is better than a student pursuing a diploma. The reason for the different entry requirements is due to the curriculum of both programmes. Regardless of which you choose, both can still lead you to an ACCA qualification, albeit through different routes.

#5. Path to ACCA: The ACCA FIA to ACCA route is faster compared to Diploma in Accounting


When it comes to the duration of study, this is where the ACCA FIA pathway really shines. You can complete the entire ACCA professional qualification in as little as 3 years — that is, 1 year for ACCA FIA and 2 years for ACCA. It's probably the fastest way to obtain a highly respected qualification that's widely sought after by employers.

In comparison, the Diploma in Accounting programme alone takes 2 years. After that, you'll need another 2 years to complete ACCA, which makes your total study duration to be 4 years.

In short, ACCA FIA is the shorter route.

However, this only applies if you have your eyes set on ACCA. Bear in mind that ACCA FIA is not valid for entry into any other programme except for ACCA, nor can it be used as a qualification to get a job. Nonetheless, its short and snappy timeline can't be beat.


Wondering how you can fund your ACCA FIA? Don’t fret — Taylor’s College offers an ACCA FIA scholarship that covers up to 100% tuition fee waiver. Learn more about it here.

#6. Programme Focus: ACCA FIA focuses more on accounting modules while a diploma is more holistic in its curriculum


Both ACCA FIA and Diploma in Accounting will equip you with good foundational knowledge in accounting. However, there are some differences in terms of the curriculum.

As a programme developed to ensure that you're ready for the challenges of ACCA, theACCA FIA programmehas a more focused and technical curriculum, with students concentrating on passing the 7 compulsory accounting modules.

Meanwhile, a Diploma in Accounting can be considered a more holistic programme. This is because, on top of important accounting modules, you'll also be expected totake up other related subjects and electivessuch as business statistics, business law and business technology. At the same time, most diploma programmes will have youworking on assignments and delivering presentations.

Regardless, both programmes will still give you a good background in accounting, as well as allow you to claim exemptions from 3 papers in ACCA.


Taylor’s is a proud Gold status recipient of ACCA. This is proof of Taylor’s quality as an ACCA Approved Learning Partner. Go for the best in your education with Taylor’s here.

#7. Work Opportunities: Diploma in Accounting allows you to work whereas ACCA FIA requires further studies


Thinking of going into the workplace immediately after completing your studies? Then you should probably consider pursuing Diploma in Accounting as it is an accepted qualification by employers. Some of the jobs you can apply with a DIA includes account associate and accountant.

With ACCA FIA, you'll need to take things one step further by pursuing ACCA. This is due to the fact that a foundation-level qualification is often insufficient when it comes to employment in the accounting world.


Accountants are highly sought-after. Meet the demand for the field with Taylor’s accredited accounting programmes. Learn more about that here.

#8. Fees: ACCA FIA is cheaper than Diploma in Accounting


Between the two programmes,ACCA FIA is generally cheaper. This is primarily due to it being a foundation-level award with a shorter duration of study. The Diploma in Accounting, with its longer duration and greater versatility (you can use it to pursue ACCA, continue with an accounting degree and apply for jobs) will cost you more.

Having said that,only the Diploma in Accounting is eligible for PTPTN loan. So, although it may cost you more, you're still better off pursuing a diploma if you plan to subsidise your study with a student loan.

Whichever you choose, it’s worth noting that there are different scholarships and financial aids available to help you finance your studies for either of the two programmes.


Looking for ways to fund your accounting studies? Taylor’s offers generous scholarships for ACCA FIA, Diploma in Accounting and ACCA. Learn more about it here.

Why Study ACCA at Taylor’s


At the end of the day, both ACCA FIA and Diploma in Accounting programmes are valid study options if you want to go into accounting or ultimately become an ACCA member. Which one you choose just depends on the details.

Browse programmes and connect with the top Accounting and ACCA education provider in Malaysia at the EduAdvisor Accounting & ACCA Virtual Fair — happening this 19 – 21 June 2024! Click here to register.

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    Dzulfazreena Dzulkefli

    Dzulfazreena Dzulkefli

    Too busy complaining about lemon but I sometimes read.