Frequently Asked Questions   |   The Value of the CGMS Credentials   |   Eligibility
  CGMS Application Process   |   Preparing for the Exam   |   Maintaining Certification

Frequently Asked Questions

As the recognized leader throughout the grants management industry, NGMA is proud to offer the Certified Grants Management Specialist (CGMS) credential. In addition to the credential, NGMA provides comprehensive full lifecycle grants management training (including GMBoK training), continuing professional education, resources, and a forum for networking for grants industry professionals. NGMA serves all levels of government (Federal, state, local, tribal), nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, and affiliated private sector organizations.

The Value of the CGMS Credential

Why should I obtain the CGMS Credential?

The CGMS credential is a formal recognition of expert level knowledge of the full lifecycle of grants management. Maintaining the credential demonstrates your dedication to the highest standards of competency as a grants management professional. Earning the CGMS credential enhances your professional reputation and represents your strong commitment to ongoing professional development.

What is the difference between a certification/credential program
and a certificate program?

certification/credential program involves a process in which individuals attain and demonstrate the level of knowledge and skill required to perform in the profession, occupation, or role, for example, Certified Public Accountant (CPA). A certification program generally focuses on experience and current skill. Following certification, individuals are generally expected to possess the knowledge, skill, and experience level to perform successfully in the occupation or role identified. Certification is a voluntary process by which individuals are assessed against pre-determined standards for knowledge/skills/competencies and granted a time-limited credential.

A certificate program is a training program established or purchased to provide structured training course(s) to employees to meet an identified performance and developmental need. Certificate programs award certificates after a course of study has been completed and does not generally require previous work experience or exhibited skill level. The certificate documents completion of the training. Successful completion of an end-of-program assessment is not a requirement for obtaining the certificate.

The following table summarizes the differences between a certification/credential and a certificate:
Certification/Credential Certificate
Results from an assessment process Results from an educational process
Typically requires some amount of professional experience For both newcomers and experienced professionals alike
Awarded by a third-party, standard-setting organization Awarded by training and education programs or institutions
Indicates mastery/competency as measured against a defensible set of standards, usually by application or exam Course content set a variety of ways (faculty committee; dean/ instructor; occasionally through defensible analysis of topic area)
Typically result in a designation to use after one’s name, e.g., CPA; may result in a document to hang on the wall or keep in a wallet Usually listed on a resume detailing education; may result in a document to hang on the wall
Has ongoing requirements to maintain; individual must demonstrate knowledge of content; holder must demonstrate he/she continue to meet requirements Is the end result; individual may or may not demonstrate knowledge of course content at the end of a set period in time




What are the eligibility requirements to take the test?

To be eligible to sit for the CGMS exam, candidates must attest to having one of the following:
  1. Three (3) years of full-time* grants management experience in the last ten years** coupled with a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited institution of higher education or equivalent foreign degree that would allow you to qualify for a master’s or doctoral degree program at an accredited U.S. college or university; or,

  2. Five (5) years of full-time* grants management experience in the last ten years**.

* Full-time is defined as 32 hours per week or more.
** Grants management experience includes any and all activities covered by the Grants Management Body of Knowledge, a summary of which is available on the NGMA website ( and in Appendix B of the CGMS Candidate Handbook

What if my experience is not 100% grants management?

If your job experience is not 100% grants management, you can apply simple math to calculate if you meet the number of years experience needed. For example: If you have been working in a position for 7.5 years where just 40 percent of your time was spent on grants, you would multiply .40 by 90 months, which equals 36 months, or three years. However, please remember that you may be selected for audit and asked to provide verification of the information you used to calculate your experience.

Is the CGMS only for people who work in government agencies?

No, the CGMS is not only for people who work in government agencies. The CGMS is for anyone who works in the field of grants management. You can be from a nonprofit, foundation, private firm that offers grant services, local, state, tribal or Federal agency, or any another type of organization.


CGMS Application Process

How do I apply?

An application is available through the NGMA Candidate Management System. A link and information can be found  HERE. You will want to download a copy of the Candidate Handbook and read it thoroughly before beginning the process.

How much does it cost?

The member rate to take the exam the first time is $500 and $674 for non-members (includes a 1-year membership to NGMA). This fee includes a $75 non-refundable application fee.  Refer to the CGMS eligibility requirements to ensure that you are eligible to take the exam prior to applying, as there will be no refunds for false attestations.

If you do not pass the exam the first time, the fee to retake the exam is $175 for NGMA members and $250 for non-members. You can retake the exam after a 90-day waiting period up to three (3) times in a year from the date of your first exam.

For information about how to become an NGMA member, click HERE.

Preparing for the Exam

Where do I take the CGMS exam?

The computer-based CGMS exam is offered in-person at testing centers or with a live-remote proctor from the comfort of your home or office. You can review the Environmental and System Requirements for the live-remote proctor option on pages 3-4 of the Prometric ProProctor User Guide.

How can I prepare for the CGMS exam?

You can prepare for the CGMS exam in a number of ways. Participation in NGMA trainings (such as GMBoK training) is one way to prepare for the exam (but that is NOT required in order to sit for the exam). A CGMS Practice test is included with the purchase of your CGMS Exam. The practice test is available for a one-time use.  The practice test is 40 questions.  Although NGMA does not formally endorse training opportunities and training providers, it recognizes that there are entities in addition to NGMA, including a number of NGMA’s Corporate Alliance partners, whose trainings may help individuals prepare for the CGMS exam.

Where can I purchase the Grants Management Body of Knowledge (GMBoK) Guide?

The GMBoK Guide, which reviews the full lifecycle of grants management is available as a printed guide in color or black/white at a nominal fee. The GMBoK Guide is also available as a free, online, document for our members via here. You must log in first in order to access the online GMBoK Guide.

While the GMBoK Guide does not teach to the exam, it does share a wealth of information on the full lifecycle of grants management to help you prepare for the exam.

Where/When will GMBoK training be held?

NGMA offers the GMBoK training two times a year. This intense two-day training is scheduled immediately following the Annual Grants Training and is scheduled in the fall each year. The GMBoK training can also be brought directly to your organization as an internal training. If you are interested in offering this training at your organization, contact Kelli Klepic at [email protected] for more information.

Can I pass the CGMS exam without taking any training courses?

While training courses are very helpful and will greatly increase your chances of passing the exam on your first try, it may be possible to pass the exam if you thoroughly study the subject areas cited in the CGMS Candidate Handbook.

Can I reschedule my CGMS exam after I schedule it?
Candidates have 365 days to schedule and take the CGMS exam after completing the application process. Once the exam is scheduled, candidates may reschedule a testing session up to 5 business days before the testing appointment. There is a nonrefundable rescheduling fee of $35. The Cancelation and Rescheduling Policy can be found in the Candidate Handbook.


Maintaining Certification

How long is the CGMS credential valid?

Once you pass your exam, your CGMS credential is valid for three (3) years from the date that you pass the credentialing exam.

What is required to maintain your CGMS credential?

To maintain your CGMS credential, you must obtain a minimum of 60 hours of continuing education credits within a three (3) year period (between the date you pass the exam and the time of your renewal).