Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme

Main

Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme

Become a Chartered Secretary or Chartered Governance Professional.

  • Governance professionals, company secretaries, individuals from law or finance transferring to governance roles
  • No prior qualifications required, various entry routes dependent on experience
  • Two to five years
  • Designated study texts per module
  • Varies depending on route and tuition choice
  • Register anytime, exams in June or Nov
Check Eligibility

Why?

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.

On successful completion of the programme you will receive Grad status which is your first step on the road to achieving Chartered Status.

Getting started

  • Read overview below.
  • If you feel this is the right qualification for you check your entry route eligibility.
  • Student membership is for all those studying for our qualifications.

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 as Part one and may be eligable for exemption from two modules
  • Fast Track Professional entry – Accountants or lawyers with more than five years’ post-qualifying 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 assess 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 a registered tuition partner, though some students choose to self-study. 

Option 1: Study with a 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 of the Institute. 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.

Costs and considerations

Undertaking the Chartered Governance 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 of the Institute, 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
overseas

Reduced
rate
Registration One-off fee £143 £79
Student membership Annual fee – full year (1 Aug – 31 July) £195 £138
Annual fee – half year (1 Feb – 31 July) £98 £69
Module fees Exam entry £235 £160
Exemption or re-sit £235 £160
Study texts 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.

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).
  • Our study materials and examinations are all in English (6+ on IELTS scale).
  • Exam sessions are held in June and November*.
  • You can take a maximum of 2 exams per session (4 per year).

These are not small considerations, but you are not alone. Becoming a student member with the Institute gives you access to expert support and guidance along 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.

Syllabus

Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme

Become a Chartered Secretary or Chartered Governance Professional.

  • Governance professionals, company secretaries, individuals from law or finance transferring to governance roles
  • No prior qualifications required, various entry routes dependent on experience
  • Two to five years
  • Designated study texts per module
  • Varies depending on route and tuition choice
  • Register anytime, exams in June or Nov
Check Eligibility

The full qualifying programme is divided into two sections, Part One and Part Two. You may be exempt from certain modules through our alternative routes of entry

You can also purchase the recommended study texts in our book shop.

Part One

Part One is a Level 6 course (final year undergraduate level). Each module requires around 200 hours of study, and is assessed by a three-hour exam. The modules are:

Corporate Governance

The aim of this module is to provide advanced knowledge and key skills necessary for the company secretary or governance professional to act as chief adviser to the board and other stakeholders on best practice in corporate governance, and as the facilitator for systematic application across a wide range of organisations.

Full syllabus | Study text

Health Service Governance (alternative option)

The aim of this module is to provide the knowledge and key skills necessary to act as
adviser to governing bodies across the NHS in England. The advice of the company
secretary/governance professional will include all aspects of the governance obligations of
NHS organisations in England, covering not only legal duties, but also management of
potential risks and applicable and recommended standards of best practice.

Full syllabus | Study text

Company Compliance and Administration

The aim of this module is for students to develop their knowledge and skills to prepare for practice as a company secretary, ensuring that the company operates in accordance with good governance principles and the regulations of the jurisdiction in which it operates.

Full syllabus | Study text

Interpreting Financial and Accounting Information

The aim of this module is to develop your knowledge of finance and accounting and the ability to use that knowledge to interpret financial and accounting information when providing advice to the board, or a similar decision-making body, in strategy development and/or decision-making.

Full syllabus | Study text

Company Law

The aim of this module is to provide a thorough grounding in, and knowledge and understanding of, the legal framework governing certain business organisations, with particular focus on the registered company. Where appropriate, the module will also cover relevant corporate governance topics, and the relationship between company law and corporate governance.

Full syllabus | Study text

Part Two

Part Two is a Level 7 course (postgraduate degree level). Each module requires around 200 hours of study, and is assessed by a three-hour exam. The modules are:

Development of Strategy

As the pace and volume of change in the environment affecting organisations in all sectors increases, company secretaries/governance professionals must seek to understand what is happening and play their part in determining the organisation’s response. All organisations are faced with the challenge of strategic direction either to grasp new opportunities or to overcome significant problems. 

The aim of this module is to provide the elements, processes and techniques involved in the
development and implementation of organisational strategy.

Full syllabus | Study text

Risk Management

The aim of this module is for students to develop and extend their understanding of the discipline of risk management, including how risk management links to compliance management and complements effective corporate governance in organisations.

Full syllabus | Study text

Boardroom Dynamics

The aim of this module is to provide the advanced knowledge, understanding and skills needed for the company secretary/governance professional to support boardroom performance by enabling both effective individual behaviours and group processes.

Full syllabus | Study text

Entry routes

Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme

Become a Chartered Secretary or Chartered Governance Professional.

  • Governance professionals, company secretaries, individuals from law or finance transferring to governance roles
  • No prior qualifications required, various entry routes dependent on experience
  • Two to five years
  • Designated study texts per module
  • Varies depending on route and tuition choice
  • Register anytime, exams in June or Nov
Check Eligibility

There are six main routes into the qualifying programme:

  • The 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 and 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’ post-qualifying 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. 

Route 1: 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). This route is open entry, meaning you don't need any prerequisites to begin the programme.

Check your eligibility and start your registration >

Route 2: Part One entry

Students who have one or more of the following qualifications may be eligible to start directly on Part One of the qualifying programme:

  • HND in Law or Accounting;
  • HND or degree in Business Studies or Business Management;
  • ICSA Level 5 Diploma in International Finance and Administration (IFA);
  • ICSA Level 5 Diploma in Offshore Finance and Administration (DOFA); or
  • an 'unrelated' degree (i.e. anything other than law, finance or business) and five years’ or more experience in a company secretarial or governance professional related role.

Check your eligibility and start your registration >

Route 3: Related Degree entry

Students with a law or finance degree may be eligible for Part One entry and a module exemption.

Law Degree Entry

If you have a degree in law, you may be exempt from the Company Law module.

Check your eligibility and start your registration >

Finance Degree Entry

If you have a degree in finance, you may be exempt from the Finance module. 

Check your eligibility and start your registration >

MBA Entry

If you hold an MBA, you can start at Part One and can supply your transcript so we can assess you for any further exemptions.

Check your eligibility and start your registration >

Law Degree and Finance Degree Entry

If you have a degree in law and a degree in finance, you may be exempt from the Company Law module and the Finance module. 

Check your eligibility and start your registration >

Route 4: Professional entry (less than five years' experience)

Professionals working in law or finance (for less than five years) may be eligible for exemption from two qualifying programme modules.

Law Professional Entry

If you are a lawyer working in a relevant role and a current member of one of the following professional bodies relevant to your jurisdiction, you may be exempt from the Company Law and Strategy modules:

  • The Bar Council
  • The Law Society
  • Or equivalent, compliant with the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme Regulations.

Check your eligibility and start your registration >

Finance Professional Entry

If you are a qualified accountant working in a relevant role and a current member of one of the following professional bodies relevant to your jurisdiction, you may be exempt from the Finance and Strategy modules:

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
  • Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)
  • Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA Ireland)

Check your eligibility and start your registration >

Route 5: Fast Track Professional entry

As a qualified lawyer or accountants with more than five years’ post-qualifying experience, you can become qualified in a year or less. Our Fast Track Professional route recognises your knowledge and experience and requires the completion of just two modules, Corporate Governance and Risk Management.

Experience Required

In order to be eligible for the Fast Track Professional Route you must have experience in the following areas:

  1. Company secretarial and legal work
  2. Corporate governance
  3. Financial management/ Pension/ Insurance
  4. Committee administration and Accounting
  5. General management and administration

For further information please review the Fast Track Guidelines.

Lawyers

You must be a current member of the following professional bodies relevant to your jurisdiction:

  • The Bar Council
  • The Law Society
  • Or equivalent, compliant with the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme Regulations.

Check your eligibility and start your registration >

Accountants

You must also be a current member of one of the following major accountancy bodies relevant to your jurisdiction:

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
  • Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)
  • Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA Ireland)

Check your eligibility and start your registration >

Route 6: MOU entry

The Chartered Governance Institute has a special arrangement with the Institute of Chartered Secretaries India (ICSI) and the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators Nigeria (ICSAN), where members of these Institutes can study the qualifying programme and be exempt from certain modules. 

The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI)

If you are a current Associate or Fellow of ICSI with a minimum of two years’ relevant experience/training, you may be exempt from up to four modules from the full qualifying programme. You would only be required to complete: Company Law, Corporate Governance and Risk Management.  

For further information on the route, please visit our FAQ’s

The Institute of Company Secretaries and Administrators Nigeria (ICSAN)

If you are a current member of ICSAN and completed your final exam after November 2011, you may be exempt from five modules and would be required to complete: Corporate Governance and Risk Management. 

Check your eligibility and start your registration >

FAQ's

Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme

Become a Chartered Secretary or Chartered Governance Professional.

  • Governance professionals, company secretaries, individuals from law or finance transferring to governance roles
  • No prior qualifications required, various entry routes dependent on experience
  • Two to five years
  • Designated study texts per module
  • Varies depending on route and tuition choice
  • Register anytime, exams in June or Nov
Check Eligibility

Registering as a student member of the Chartered Governance Institute

Qualifications

How do I apply to be a Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme student?
What is the complete list of fees?
What are the main entry routes?
Do students pay an exemption fee, and why?
When registering as a student, what documents do I need to upload to get my exemptions and entry route confirmed?
Who can certify documents such as academic or professional certificates and transcripts of results?
Do the certificates need to be in English?
How much will it cost me to register and get started as a Chartered Governance student?
How much will it cost to complete the Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme?
Are there any discounts on the fees?
What is the fee for Fast Track Professional?
What do I need in order to start studying?
Can I get tuition for the qualifying programme?
How much does tuition cost?
What can I do if there is no tuition provider in my area?
How long does it take to prepare for an exam?
Do I have to learn the entire study text?
Do I have to remember sections of codes or the correct names of legal cases?
Are we provided with copies of statutes or any other references in the exam?
What study support is available from the Institute?
How do I enter for the exams?
When do the exam sessions take place and when are the entry deadlines?
Where can I sit the exams?
What equipment do I need for the online exam?
How many modules can I take per exam session?
What happens if I enter for an exam and I’m not able to take it?
What information will I receive from the Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland after I enter for an exam?
When does The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland release the exam results?
How do I receive my results?
What is the threshold for a pass?
How can I find out more about my exam result?
Will I get reminders and alerts about important dates?
How can I get in touch if I have any questions?
How can I make contact with other students of the Institute?
What happens when I pass my final exam?
Is there a Graduation Ceremony?
How do I become a Chartered Member or Chartered Governance Professional?
What is the Memorandum of Understanding?
What is the registration process under the Memorandum of Understanding scheme?
What modules will I need to complete from the Qualifying Programme under the Memorandum of Understanding scheme?
What is the cost of completing the programme under the MOU scheme?
Can I pay for the Programme in instalments?
Will you be providing study texts as part of the fees?
Where can I find past papers?
Can I study with a tuition provider?
How many hours of study is this qualification?
Can I take all three examinations at one time?
Where is the Examination centre located?
Are there any job opportunities in the UK?
Can the Institute help me with my visa application?
What happens once I have successfully completed all three modules?
What designations can I use once I complete my qualification?
What are the benefits associated with chartered membership?

The membership journey

Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme

Become a Chartered Secretary or Chartered Governance Professional.

  • Governance professionals, company secretaries, individuals from law or finance transferring to governance roles
  • No prior qualifications required, various entry routes dependent on experience
  • Two to five years
  • Designated study texts per module
  • Varies depending on route and tuition choice
  • Register anytime, exams in June or Nov
Check Eligibility

Affiliated membership

Is for those who have either achieved all four Part One modules on the Chartered Governance Qualifying Progamme, 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.

Associateship

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 ACG and the professional designation of Chartered Secretary or Chartered Governance Professional.

Fellowship

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 FCG and the professional designation of Chartered Secretary or Chartered Governance Professional.

Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme

Looking for extra resources?

As the UK's leading authority on governance and company secretarial practice, we produce research and guidance on today's governance issues.

Find more resources

Want to find your entry route onto the programme?

Click through to our helpful tool to find what route is right for you.

Which route

Search ICSA