Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme

Become a Chartered Secretary or Governance Professional


Chartered status is the benchmark for company secretaries and governance professionals. It shows that you have the knowledge, skills and experience to take on a job with significant and wide-ranging responsibilities. In larger organisations, this may be within the secretariat or governance team or as part of a professional services team. In medium and smaller organisations, this may be in the sole governance or company secretarial role.

Who is it for?

Anyone is eligible to apply, but the programme rises to Level 7 (equivalent to postgraduate degree level) in the final stages. Our students include experienced professionals on the fast track, company secretaries using their experience, and individuals from law or finance transferring to governance roles. 

The full programme can take up to five years to complete, although we offer alternative routes of entry for those with relevant education or professional experience. For example, a professional with 5+ years of relevant experience may achieve accreditation within one year via the Fast Track Professional entry.

Full programme overview

The programme is divided into two levels, Part One and Part Two.

Students with a law, finance or governance background may be able to start at Part One at
Level 6 (equivalent to final year undergraduate level). You complete your learning at Part Two at Level 7 (equivalent to postgraduate degree level), developing commercial understanding through the study of risk, strategy and board dynamics.

You can view the full syllabus here

Routes of entry

We offer alternative routes of entry for students based on their relevant qualifications or experience.

There are six main routes into the Qualifying Programme:

  • Foundation Programme entry – Students who are not eligible to start the programme at Part One will need to take the Foundation Programme to start their journey to GradCG. This is set at Level 4 (equivalent to first year undergraduate level).
  • Part One entry –  Those with relevant education or experience will start at Part One of the Qualifying Programme.
  • Related Degree entry – Law or finance graduates start at Part One and may be eligible for exemption from the law or finance module. MBA graduates start at Part One and will be assessed for other exemptions.  
  • Professional entry –  Accountants or lawyers with up to five years’ professional experience start at Part One and may be eligible for exemption from two modules.
  • Fast Track Professional entry – Accountants or lawyers with more than five years’ relevant experience may only need to complete two modules.
  • MOU entry – Members of ICSI and ICSAN may be eligible for module exemptions under our Memorandum of Understanding agreements with these organisations. 

We carefully assesses applications for all exemptions and successful applicants can significantly streamline their studies. Find your best route and full exemption details on our Entry Routes page.

How the programme works

Once you know your route through the Qualifying Programme, you can register for the course, pay your initial fees and begin your studies. We recommend the use of an Institute-registered tuition partner, though some students choose to self-study. 

Option 1: Study with an Institute-registered tuition partner 

We work with a variety of tuition partners and we strongly recommend our students take tuition. They can be used on a module by module basis and offer options that include distance learning and face-to-face classes. In addition to higher student pass rates, the benefits include:

  • a structured programme of tuition;
  • the ability to submit practice papers for feedback and guidance;
  • fast, practical answers to any queries throughout the course; and
  • regular contact with an expert tutor.

The cost of tuition is typically £350 – £600 per module depending on the tuition provider you choose and the services they offer.

Option 2: Self-study

You prepare for each exam yourself, using the facilities provided as part of your student membership. These include:

  • access to past papers and suggested answers;
  • access to module-specific webinars and recordings, presented by the examiner;
  • a comprehensive study skills eBook; and
  • study support webinars in areas such as planning your study and exam techniques.

Find out more about how you study for the Qualifying Programme and how it is assessed on our FAQs page

    Costs and considerations

    Undertaking the Qualifying Programme is a big decision. It’s important to consider how it will fit into your existing lifestyle and career.

    The cost of qualifying

    Costs can vary significantly from student to student. While everyone pays for registration, exam fees and membership, a student’s route and tuition choice can make a big difference to the investment required. 

    The following table provides a summary of typical costs, but while the full fees apply for students in the UK, EU and Crown Dependencies, those in many other countries pay reduced rates.

    UK and

    Registration One-off fee £140 £77
    Student membership Annual fee – full year (1 Aug – 31 July) £190 £135
    Annual fee – half year (1 Feb – 31 July) £95 £67.50
    Module fees Exam entry £230 £157
    Exemption or re-sit £230 £157
    Study text books Per exam module  £45
    Optional tuition Per exam module, depending on provider £350 – £600
    Fast Track Professional Initial registration fee, one year student membership fee, all exemption fees and one exam entry per module £1,885 £1,255

    Find out more about our fees on our FAQs page.

    Other considerations

    • The time investment is significant.
    • Up to 200 hours of study are required for the Foundation Programme.
    • Up to 200 hours of study are required per module in Part One and Part Two.
    • The work is challenging, rising to Level 7 (equivalent to a postgraduate degree).
    • Institute study material and examinations are all in English (6+ on IELTS scale).
    • Institute exam sessions are held in June and November*.
    • You can take a maximum of 2 exams per session (4 per year).
    • You must abide by our student rules and regulations.

    These are not small considerations, but you are not alone. Becoming a student member with The Chartered Governance Institute gives you access to expert support and guidance a long with a range of other benefits.

    *Health Service Governance exam in June only.

    What happens after the course?

    Achieving Chartered status requires both knowledge and experience. By passing the Qualifying Programme, you will become a Graduate member of The Institute, allowing the use of the post-nominal GradCG to signify your expertise. 

    The membership journey

    Student membership

    Is for all those studying for our qualifications. 

    Affiliated membership

    Is for those who have either achieved all four Part One modules on the Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme, or have passed one of our Certificate or Diploma qualifications. Affiliated members use the post-nominals CG (Affiliated).

    Graduate membership

    Is for those who have completed the Qualifying Programme or postgraduate equivalent and are working towards the experience required for Chartered membership. Graduates use the post-nominals GradCG.


    Is the first level of Chartered membership, for those who have achieved GradCG status and have six years’ relevant work experience (this can be reduced to three if you hold a degree). Associate members use the post-nominals ACIS and the professional designation of Chartered Secretary.


    Is the highest level of Chartered member for those who have achieved GradCG status and have eight years’ relevant work experience, three of which are in a senior position. Fellows use the post-nominals FCIS and the professional designation of Chartered Secretary or Chartered Governance Professional.

    Getting started

    • If you are ready to start your career in governance, register today, find your entry route and begin the Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme.
    • Not sure where to go from here? Find your best route on the Entry Routes page.

    Contact us

    For enquiries regarding student membership and studying with us please contact the Membership Team or read the FAQs:

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