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:

  1. 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 of full-time* grants management experience in the last 10 years**; OR

  2. No college degree, BUT a minimum of five (5) years of 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 group or partner, connect with a mentor or search exam preparation tips and best practices in the CGMS Discussion area of the NGMA Community Forum. Taking NGMA's GMBoK Training is a good starting point to prepare for the CGMS exam, as it covers the full lifecycle of grants management. (Note: GMBoK Training is not a CGMS exam prep course.)

  • Read and know 2 CFR 200.

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

  • Remember: Even experienced grants 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 40 multiple-choice questions that are similar in type to those that will be found on the actual credentialing exam. It is intended to provide individuals with a sample of the type of questions that will be asked on the actual credentialing exam. Practice Test questions do not appear on the credentialing exam.

The Practice Test may be taken virtually 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 (virtual) proctor. You may 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.

CGMS Exam Fee: $500 for members | $674 for non-members (non-member fee includes a one-year NGMA membership)
The cost includes a non-refundable $75 application fee.


Exam Information
The CGMS exam consists of five different content areas/domains: 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 December 12, 2022, there are 273 CGMS holders.


  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 NGMA's:

  • Responsibility
  • Respect
  • Fairness
  • Honesty

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 begin working 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) Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credit. 

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

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

NGMA offers between 18-20 CPEs for attending its full Annual Grants Training (AGT) event. By attending AGT each year, you may easily earn most or all of the 60 CPEs.


What if I Need to Retake the Exam?

Candidates may retake the exam 90 days after test dates and are allowed three attempts in a 365-day period (one year). Candidates will be required to pay the retesting fee for each exam retake. Retakes are initiated through NGMA and NOT the Candidate Management System (CMS). Contact [email protected] for more information on scheduling a retake exam.

CGMS Retesting Fee: $175 for members | $250 for non-members

I Passed, Now What?

Congratulations! Your CGMS designation is good for three years from the date you passed the exam. You will receive an email from NGMA welcoming you to the elite CGMS group. Upon receiving your CGMS, you will begin working toward earning 60 continuing education credits in the next three years. To maintain the CGMS credential, you must have accrued 60 CPEs by your credential expiration date and will also be required to pay a CGMS renewal fee.

CGMS Renewal Fee: $299 for members | $473 for nonmembers (nonmember rate includes a one-year NGMA membership).

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

- Rikitra Cephus, CGMS