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.
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.
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.
We offer alternative routes of entry for students based on their relevant qualifications or experience.
There are six main routes into the qualifying programme:
ICSA 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.
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 ICSA-registered tuition partner, though some students choose to self-study.
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:
The cost of tuition is typically £350 – £600 per module depending on the tuition provider you choose and the services they offer.
You prepare for each exam yourself, using the facilities provided as part of your ICSA student membership. These include:
Costs can vary significantly from student to student. While everyone pays for registration, exam fees and ICSA 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.
|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|
|ICSA text books||Per exam module||£45|
|Optional tuition||Per exam module, depending on provider||£350 – £600|
Find out more about our fees on our FAQ's page.
These are not small considerations, but you are not alone. Becoming a student member with ICSA gives you access to expert support and guidance a long with a range of other benefits.
*Health Service Governance exam in June only.
Achieving Chartered status requires both knowledge and experience. By passing the qualifying programme, you will become a Graduate member of ICSA, allowing the use of the post-nominal GradICSA to signify your expertise.
Is for all those studying for ICSA qualifications.
Is for those who have either achieved all four Part One modules on the ICSA qualifying programme, or have passed one of ICSA’s Certificate or Diploma qualifications. Affiliated members use the post-nominals CIS (Affiliated).
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 GradICSA.
Is the first level of Chartered membership, for those who have achieved GradICSA 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 GradICSA 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.