CFA Curriculum Changes 2023: A Quick Breakdown

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Note: This article is for the new 2023 curriculum. For last year’s info, check out our article on 2022 CFA curriculum changes.

The new 2023 CFA curriculum is now out for all 3 levels, with some 2023 exams open for registration.

With CFA Program’s annual syllabus update, we have checked and compared all the 2023 CFA curriculum changes for each level, so you don’t have to!

So here’s a quick summary of the latest CFA curriculum changes 2023 for all Levels that you should know.

Some fun facts on the recent 2023 CFA curriculum updates:

  • For CFA Level 1 and Level 2, Readings are transitioning to Learning Modules (LMs), which are easily digestible bite-sized lessons that can be completed in an evening of study.
  • There are no changes in CFA Level 3’s curriculum in 2023. So you can still use 2022’s books and it’ll be fine!

Read on to find out more!


Why are CFA curriculum changes and topic weights important?

cfa curriculum changes 2023

Topic weights are key to CFA study plans, as it guides candidates on the importance of each topic for the exams. Needless to say, higher weighted topics deserve more study time, focus and practice.

Knowing the curriculum changes in advance are useful in certain circumstances, for example:

  • Candidates who have yet to register for the 2023 exam, yet want to get a head start on reading existing 2022 materials. They need to make sure that what they are studying now will be part of the updated curriculum;
  • Candidates who are interested in getting second hand, previous year versions of third party study materials for the next exam; or
  • Candidates who (unfortunately) failed a current year exam, and are planning to retake in 6-12 months time. Existing third party study materials may be re-used if the curriculum changes are minor between these 2 years.

Here are the quick summaries of the topic weights and curriculum changes that you need to know for your exam. 

For each level, there is also a free 1 pager summary PDF you can download at the end of each section.


CFA Level 1 topic weights

spreadsheet work data analysis

There are no changes to 2023’s CFA level 1 topic weights compared to 2022’s.

Back in 2021, CFA Institute changed CFA Level 1’s topic weights to be a range rather than an absolute % as per previous years.

CFA Level 1 Topic Weights20192020202120222023
Quant Methods10%10%8-12%8-12%8-12%
Economics10%10%8-12%8-12%8-12%
FRA15%15%13-17%13-17%13-17%
Corp. Issuers10%10%8-12%8-12%8-12%
Equity11%11%10-12%10-12%10-12%
Fixed Income11%11%10-12%10-12%10-12%
Derivatives6%6%5-8%5-8%5-8%
Alt. Investments6%6%5-8%5-8%5-8%
Portfolio Mgmt.6%6%5-8%5-8%5-8%
Ethics15%15%15-20%15-20%15-20%

Looking back to 2018-2019, there were big changes whereby Financial Reporting & Analysis and Quantitative Methods’ weightings were reduced significantly, to provide a more balanced topic range.

These changes may have been done to discourage candidates from completely ignoring topics such as Derivatives and Alternative Investments for CFA Level 1 preparations.


CFA Level 1 curriculum changes

cfa level 1 curriculum changes 2023

In short, there has been some small, concentrated changes throughout the CFA Level 1 curriculum, but nothing major overall. Some notable changes:

  • CFA Level 1’s program structure is now transitioning towards a Learning Module (LM) structure, instead of Readings. Learning Modules are basically bite-sized lessons that can be done in an evening of study, to better reflect the nature of CFA candidates’ study patterns. LMs also include more visuals, spreadsheets and practical content relevant to finance careers.
  • Alternative Investments and Derivatives sections are the first topics to be broken down into an LM structure this year. So in a way, the ‘number of readings/chapters’ comparison vs. last year is no longer comparable, although we still have a good gauge of the extent of an update.
  • 3 new readings are added this year, concentrated in Corporate Issuers and Economics.
  • Portfolio Management topic also has minor content updates across readings. For example, “Fintech in Investment Management” reading now includes new content on DeFi and blockchain.

There are 73 Learning Modules in 2023’s Level 1 Curriculum (vs. 60 readings in 2022) – as mentioned earlier, this is not comparable given the transition to LMs:

  • No readings from 2022 were removed, but merely replaced, renamed or changed to Learning Modules.
  • 3 new Learning Modules were added (1 in Economics, 2 in Corporate Issuers):
    • LM 13 – Introduction to Geopolitics
    • LM 28 – Corporate Structures and Ownership
    • LM 30 – Business Models
  • 6 Learning Modules were updated: all in Corporate Issuers.

Overall, the 2022’s CFA Level 1 curriculum changes are not too significant, with 4-5 topics updated to to reflect current market practice and study patterns.

Corporate Issuers, Economics, Alternative Investments, Derivatives and to a smaller extent Portfolio Management have notable changes from 2022’s curriculum. Other topics remain largely the same as last year’s.

More details of the changes are shown in the table below, as well as a 1 pager summary PDF you can download.​

cfa level 1 curriculum changes 2023 summary table

CFA Level 2 topic weights

research question working data collection

Just like CFA Level 1, there are no changes to 2023’s CFA level 2 topic weights compared to 2022’s.

This is as expected given historical trends of reducing the variability in topic weight across the 10 topics, with a maximum range difference of 5% per topic. 

These changes may have been done to discourage candidates from purely just focusing on the (previously) big 5 topics of Level 2 (FRA, Corporate Finance, Equity Investments, Fixed Income and Derivatives).

Based on 2023’s topic weighting, it is even possible for the 10 topics to be tested evenly at 10% weighting each for CFA Level 2. ​

CFA Level 2 Topic Weights20192020202120222023
Quant Methods5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%
Economics5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%
FRA10-15%10-15%10-15%10-15%10-15%
Corp Issuers5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%
Equity10-15%10-15%10-15%10-15%10-15%
Fixed Income10-15%10-15%10-15%10-15%10-15%
Derivatives5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%
Alt. Investments5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%
Portfolio Mgmt.5-15%5-15%10-15%10-15%10-15%
Ethics10-15%10-15%10-15%10-15%10-15%

CFA Level 2 curriculum changes

cfa level 2 curriculum changes 2023

In short, Level 2’s curriculum experienced a relatively small update this year. Some notable changes are:

  • Just like CFA Level 1, instead of Readings, CFA Level 2’s program structuring is moving towards a Learning Module (LM) structure, i.e. bite-sized lessons that can be done in an evening of study, to better reflect the nature of CFA candidates’ study patterns. LMs also include more visuals, spreadsheets and practical content relevant to finance careers.
  • In particular, one Quantitative Methods and Alternative Investment reading respectively have been broken down to smaller Learning Modules.
  • In Corporate Issuers, “Corporate Restructuring” replaces “Mergers and Acquisitions” reading to focus on all types of corporate restructuring and how to model them with spreadsheets.
  • In Financial Statement Analysis, “Financial Statement Modeling” replaces “Industry and Company Analysis”, whereby spreadsheet modeling is introduced and includes additional content on behavioral biases in forecasting.
  • The only new reading introduced is “Cost of Capital: Advanced Topics”, which focuses on how to estimate required rates of return for equities, fixed income and how to estimate the weighted average cost of capital (WACC).

There are 49 Learning Modules (LMs) in 2023’s CFA Level 2 Curriculum (vs. 47 in 2022):

  • 4 readings from 2022 were removed (mostly moved to Level 1)
    • Reading 1: Introduction to Linear Regression
    • Reading 15: Capital Structure
    • Reading 19: Capital Budgeting
    • Reading 21: Return Concepts
  • 1 new Learning Module was added: LM 20: Cost of Capital: Advanced Topics
  • 6 Learning Modules were updated: significant changes in Multiple Regression LM (Quant), Corporate Restructuring LM (Corporate Issuers), Real Estate Investments LM (Alt. Investments). Rest are minor.

Overall, 2022 CFA Level 2’s curriculum experienced a smaller update, with only Quantitative Methods, Corporate Issuers and Alternative Investments experiencing major changes in some LMs.

More details of the changes are shown in the table below, as well as a 1 pager summary PDF you can download.​

cfa level 2 curriculum changes 2023 summary table

CFA Level 3 topic weights

hedge fund career path

Just like CFA Level 1 and 2, there are no changes to 2023’s CFA level 3 topic weights compared to 2022’s.

This is as expected given historical trends of reducing the variability in topic weight across the 10 topics, with a maximum range difference of 5% per topic. 

CFA Level 3 Topic Weights20192020202120222023
Quant Methods
Economics5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%
FRA
Corp Fin / Issuers
Equity10-15%10-15%10-15%10-15%10-15%
Fixed Income15-20%15-20%15-20%15-20%15-20%
Derivatives5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%
Alt. Investments5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%5-10%
Portfolio Mgmt.35-40%35-40%35-40%35-40%35-40%
Ethics10-15%10-15%10-15%10-15%10-15%

CFA Level 3 curriculum changes

cfa level 3 curriculum changes 2023

Due to the transition and changes of CFA Level 3 exam windows, CFA Institute have decided to freeze changes in CFA Level 3 syllabus this year. That means, CFA Level 3’s curriculum is the same as 2022’s.

Just in case you’re considering using older 2020/2021 CFA Level 3 books for studying, we have kept the comparison of 2023’s CFA Level 3 curriculum vs 2020/2021 as reference below.

In short, there is a much smaller revamp on the Level 3 curriculum this time around. Some notable changes:

  • Fixed Income readings were revised across all levels to align for ease of reading and consistency. E.g. notation simplification and alignment, elimination of duplication, and updating of concepts such as LIBOR to Market Reference Rates, as well as a complete revision of the challenging Yield Curve Strategies and Credit Strategies readings at Level 3 for clarity and relevance.
  • Revisions to Private Wealth Management, Institutional Investors, and Performance Evaluation reflect the new 2020 GIPS standards.

There are 35 readings in 2023’s Level 3 Curriculum (vs. 38 in 2020/2021):

  • 5 readings from 2020/2021 were removed:
    • Reading 4: Professionalism in Investment Management
    • ​Reading 7: The Behavioral Finance Perspective
    • Reading 29: Taxes and Private Wealth Management in a Global Context
    • Reading 30: Estate Planning in a Global Context
    • Reading 31: Concentrated Single-Asset Positions
  • 2 new readings were added:
    • Reading 22: Topics in Private Wealth Management
    • Reading 30: Case Study in Risk Management: Institutional
  • 7 readings were updated, mostly major content revisions in Fixed Income and further update of GIPS (Ethics).

Overall, 2023’s CFA Level 3 curriculum has notable content changes in Fixed Income, Portfolio Management and Ethics (GIPS reading only).

Other topics remain largely the same as 2020/2021’s curriculum.

​More details of the changes are shown in the table below, as well as a 1 pager summary PDF you can download.

cfa level 3 curriculum changes 2023 vs 2021

It seems that 2022’s CFA books are highly transferable to 2023 (excluding a few chapters with major revisions), especially Level 3 since the syllabus didn’t change. I hope you’ve found the above useful in your next CFA exam study preparations!

Meanwhile, here are a few related articles of interest:

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