ow to Earn Your Credential

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to sit for the CGMS exam, candidates must attest to having one of the following:

a)  A minimum of 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 AND a minimum of three (3) years full-time* grants management experience in the last 10 years**; or

b) No college degree, BUT a minimum of five (5) years full-time* grants management experience within
the last 10 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 this handbook.

Study and Prepare for the Exam

NGMA encourages candidates to prepare for the exam by using resources such as those listed in Appendix A of the CGMS Candidate Handbook. Look for a study partner in the CGMS Study Group or connect with a mentor in the CGMS Mentors Group in the NGMA Community. Taking the NGMA GMBoK Training is a great way to get prepared for the CGMS Exam as it covers the full life cycle of grants management.

  • Read and know 2 CFR 200.

  • Take the CGMS Practice Test which is included free as a one-time use
    with your CGMS Exam application and payment.

  • Even experienced grant professionals will need to study for the exam!

Take the Practice Test

The Practice Test was designed using test specifications similar to the actual CGMS examination. The Practice Test includes forty (40) multiple-choice questions that are similar in type to those that will be found on the actual credentialing examination.

The Practice Test is intended to provide individuals with a sample of the type of questions that will be asked on the actual credentialing exam. These practice questions do not appear on the credentialing examination.

The practice test can be taken from the comfort of your home or office and has a time limit of two hours.

Take the Exam

You must submit a CGMS application and pay the exam fee before scheduling your 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. Candidates will be given three (3) hours to complete the exam.

The CGMS Exam fee is $500 for members and $674 for nonmembers (includes a 1-year membership to NGMA). 
The exam fee includes a non-refundable $75 application fee.


Exam Information
The CGMS Exam consists of five different content areas/domains.  They are General Knowledge, Pre-Award Activities, Award Activities, Post-Award Activities, and Close-Out.
A passing score is 112 correct answers out of 150 questions.

Candidate Statistics
As of January 4, 2022, there are 249 CGMS.


  2019 2020 2021
Exam Candidates 44 48 60
Pass Rate 52% 52% 57%


Adhere to the Ethics

Read and adhere to the NGMA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

The document articulates ideals and values related to the organization’s:

  • Responsibility
  • Respect
  • Fairness
  • Honest

Failure to adhere to these ideals and values may result in the revocation of the CGMS credential.

Earn Continuing Education

Upon receiving your CGMS, you will then need to work toward earning 60 continuing education credits in the next three years.

Continuing Education credits must be earned through training with subjects related to grants, financial management, audit control, and the grant-making process. 

According to generally accepted standards, 50 minutes of training equals one (1) CPE. 

General knowledge and ethics-related CPE/CEUs that are not related to grants will not be accepted. 

Applicants may accrue grant-related CPEs/CEUs from a variety of sources.

NGMA offers 20 CPEs for attending the entire Annual Grants Training; if you attend the training each year, you will easily earn your 60 CPEs.


What if I Need to Retake the Exam?

Candidates are permitted to retake the exam 90 days after test dates and are allowed three attempts in 365 days.  You will also be required to pay the retesting fee for each retake exam.

The CGMS Retesting Fee is $175 for members and $250 for nonmembers.

I Passed, Now What?

Congratulations! Your CGMS designation will be good for three years from the date you passed the exam.  You will receive an email from NGMA welcoming you to this elite group. Upon receiving your CGMS, you will then need to work toward earning 60 continuing education credits in the next three years. When your credential expires after those three years, you will also be required to pay a CGMS renewal fee.

The CGMS Renewal Fee is $299 for members and $473 for nonmembers (the nonmember rate includes a 1-year NGMA membership).

“During previous NGMA conferences, grant professionals spoke highly about the opportunity, which inspired me to grow in my profession and obtain the certification when the new exam became available…. It is my hope that having knowledge of the federal regulations will allow me to be a better resource for the grants department and the district as a whole.” (Pasadena ISD’s Stewart earns prestigious grant certification)

- Rikitra Cephus, CGMS