Certification FAQs

+ What is the relationship between GPA and GPCI?

Since its inception, the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) has been dedicated to establishing a valid credentialing process for grant professionals. To this end, and in keeping within the ideal parameters for psychometric testing, GPA created GPCI, an independent body to oversee its credentialing initiative. While GPCI is considered an affiliate of GPA and shares GPA’s vision and mission, it is governed by its own board and maintains its own 501(c)(3). Find more information about GPA here.

+ Who is the Grant Professional Certified (GPC) meant to serve?

The Grant Professional Certified (GPC) is designed to serve individuals who possess broad based knowledge and real world experience in the field of grantsmanship. An individual who comes forward to sit for the GPC Exam will have a strong ethical base, commitment to the constituents we serve and competence in the fundamentals of grantsmanship. The GPC also serves all stakeholders in the grants field. It provides widely recognized affirmation of the GPC practitioner as a person of integrity whose broad interest is in building social capital. As a well-recognized, respected element of the grants sector, the GPC helps stakeholders make the important distinction between the ethical grants professional and those who seek personal profit by capitalizing on the needs of others.

+ How will others know that I have achieved certification?

An acronym indicating a professional credential is customarily included after one’s name in formal correspondence, such as in a letter or business card. The acronym for the grant professional is GPC. GPCI maintains a directory of certified grant professionals. You can find that directory here.

+ I am so confused over the number of entities that say they offer certifications. Is there any legitimate grants profession certification available today?

Often, people mistake a certificate of completion with a professional certification. A certificate of completion states that an individual has completed a course and achieved a certain level of success in understanding the principles taught in the course. A professional certification or credential is an objective measure of the level of experience and expertise in the profession as defined by the profession as a whole. Unfortunately, many of our colleagues in the field are not aware of this distinction. Within the realm of testing and credentialing, a professional credential must be developed following rigorous psychometric protocols. These protocols dictate that an educational program, as well as other educational bodies, cannot issue a professional credential upon completion of coursework. For more information regarding this critical difference, see the Certification vs. Certificate of completion section of the website here.

+ What is the difference between GPC Certification and CFRE Certification?

The different between the CFRE and GPC credentials mirrors the difference between the organizations from which these certification initiatives sprang. Like the Association of Fundraising Professions (AFP), the CFRE serves professionals concerned with the general field of fundraising, including all areas of fund development; similarly, like the Grant Professionals Association (GPA), the GPC serves professionals who specialize in grant development.

+ When is the GPC examination offered?

From 2007 to 2011, the GPC Exam was offered in regional locations through host sites. Candidates would travel to these locations from throughout the U.S. to take the exam. Beginning in 2012, the exam took on an electronic administration and delivery format through independent host sites. Once a candidate is deemed eligible, s/he may schedule an exam at his/her own convenience in a test center of their choosing. Find a testing location convenient to your location here.

+ Can you tell me more about the scope of the examination?

We recognize that tasks in the grants profession are varied, and our job duties are often diverse. We represent, for example, education, health care, local governments, the nonprofit sector and research. We are educators and trainers. The GPC Exam identifies our commonalities, and as such is best described as a “generalist exam.” It measures an individual’s ability to demonstrate knowledge and apply the profession’s core competencies and skill sets – ethics, proposal planning, resource knowledge and research, grant construction, professional development and grant management, among others. In the future, specialty strands may be offered.

The Validated Competencies and Skills of GPCI (2007) serve as the basis of the GPC Exam and may be found here.

+ How often will the test be offered?

Because the exam is now offered electronically, it is available year-round at approved testing sites. GPCI currently contracts with Kryterion, an online test delivery company with 500 approved test centers. Host test centers follow specific protocols developed by GPCI and Kryterion for delivery of the GPC exam.

+ Are there different versions of the GPC examination?

There are multiple versions of the examination.

+ Are there study guides, preparatory classes or other test preparation aids available?

The GPCI doesn’t have or promote specific study materials, as the GPC Exam was designed to measure the existing skills of a professional with three to five years of experience. We are not a training course, nor do we offer a training course or class to help individuals prepare. In short, you cannot really study for the exam.

However, there are tangible steps you can take to fill in some gaps. For example, a professional who works only with foundations or corporate funding sources might need to brush up on federal regulations – or vice versa. The GPCI examination was designed around a specific set of competencies and skills. If you do nothing else, you should read and internalize this document, as it represents the heart of the exam.

Current GPCs have also worked with the GPCI Board of Directors to create and update a Literature Review that includes recommended readings from the field. This bibliography is a non-exhaustive list of publications most often cited by the examination’s item writers and other experts in the field. It is not intended to be a reading list for all candidates but may help fill in gaps candidates have in specific areas of their own competencies and skills.

Finally, study groups have formed in cities around the exam’s competencies and skills. In general, these have been organized by GPA chapters. Chapters and members also have compiled notes and/or materials from their groups into formal and informal study guides. Currently, at least one such guide may be found in the GPA Store. These efforts have also led to discussion around online courses that may be offered in the future. Find a listing of available study aids here.

+ Is certification mandatory for GPA membership?

No. Certification is a voluntary process and is not a requirement for GPA membership.

+ Must I be a member of GPA in order to be eligible for the GPC certification process?

No, however, GPA members do receive a reduced examination fee as a benefit of GPA membership.

+ What will it cost to register to take the GPC examination?

You can find the current fees here.

+ What will I receive when my certification is made official?

As a successful candidate, you will receive permission to use the designation “Grant Professional Certified” or “GPC” to represent your professional credentials. You will also receive a certificate suitable for framing.

+ May I take the test again if I do not pass it the first time?

Certainly, you may re-take the multiple choice exam, the writing exam, or both at any time. However, certain requirements will apply. For example, a candidate’s Eligibility Packet contains dated material; candidates must retake their exam within a specified timeframe. You may find more helpful information here Registration Timeline and in the Eligibility FAQs.”

+ Is there a grievance procedure in place for me to challenge the credentialing process?

Yes. An appeals process for challenging the credentialing process is in place. A copy of the appeals policy can be found here.

+ May I file a complaint against a GPC credentialed individual for failing to uphold professional standards?

An individual may lodge a grievance against a GPC who is believed to have engaged in professional behavior that is clearly in direct conflict with the standards set by GPCI and the profession. A copy of the Grievance and Disciplinary Policy, along with a reporting form, can be found here.

+ Are Continuing Education Units (CEUs) required to maintain my certification and, if so, how does it work?

Yes. The GPCI credential remains in effect for three years from date of issue. To maintain the GPC, a Grant Professional Certified individual must continue to demonstrate competence and continued learning throughout his or her career. GPCI has adopted a Certification Maintenance Program (CMP), which requires demonstration of participation in a minimum number of professional development activities, including but not limited to attendance at GPCI CMP approved workshops, conferences and trainings; completion of independent studies; mentorships as a mentor or mentee; continued work in the field and more. A nominal fee is charged to each GPC participating in the CMP program.

Individuals who want to maintain their certification but have not participated in the CMP program are required to retake the GPC Exam to reinstate the credential once it expires. More information on the CMP process can be found here.

+ Will GPCI maintain a clearinghouse (or official list) of GPCI credentialed grant professionals?

Yes, GPCI maintains a registry of grant professionals in good standing, found here.

+ Will GPCI make accommodations at the testing site for disabilities?

The electronic examination is administered in two sessions — up to four hours for the multiple choice portion and up to 90 minutes for a writing exercise. Each of the exam host sites has been approved by our electronic testing partner, Kryterion, and meets minimum standards related to accessibility. GPCI will make accommodations for disabilities, as needed, for any portion of the exam and will handle each request on an individual basis. Please communicate your needs well in advance to info@grantcredential.org.

+ How long is the examination?

The GPC Exam is administered in two parts – a multiple choice test and a writing exercise. Candidates will have four hours to complete the multiple choice test and 90 minutes to complete the writing exercise. Candidates may feel free to take breaks during the multiple choice test as allowed by the host site, but breaks taken are counted as a part of the maximum four-hour session.

+ Must I have a college degree to qualify to take the GPC examination?

To be eligible to take the examination, the GPC candidate must qualify for 120 of the 170 possible points on the GPC Eligibility Packet submitted to GPCI. Points are scored in four categories – education (up to 40 points); experience (up to 70 points); professional development (up to 40 points); and community involvement (up to 20 points). This point scale was developed for (at least) three reasons.

  • GPCI does not want to exclude candidates simply because they do not have a college degree. Many learned by doing.
  • The Institute wants those with GPC behind their name to be well-rounded professionals.
  • The eligibility criteria help the candidate know if his/her experience and background makes them a viable candidate to pass the examination. This point system will not guarantee success, but the GPCI Board believes a professional with these qualities should be able to pass the exam.

With that said, a candidate who earns adequate points based on experience, professional development and community involvement alone can score 130 points – 10 more than the 120 points required to sit for the exam. Therefore, a candidate without a degree can, indeed, qualify.

+ Will I receive a score when I take the GPC Exam?

No. The GPC Exam is a criterion referenced exam to determine a minimum level of competency and skill within the grants profession. It is not a measure of how well a candidate can perform on a test. Therefore, no score is reported. Candidates either pass or fail each section of the exam. Both sections must be passed to receive the credential. Exams are scored monthly, as noted on our Exam Administration Timeline found here. In 2014 the GPCI Board of Directors began offering an exam breakdown for those who did not pass the multiple choice or essay portion of the exam. This will assist in determining which areas the examinee must review to retake the exam. Scores are not given for individuals passing the exam.

+ Must I pass both the writing and the multiple choice sections to receive my GPC?

Yes. The GPCI Board of Directors, working with a psychometrician, has determined both sections – the 150-question Multiple Choice section and the 90-minute writing prompt – are equally important with regard to confirming the competencies and skills of a grant professional.

+ What is the exam Eligibility Window?

When a candidate completes the Registration Process, s/he is eligible to take the GPC Exam during a 90-day period of time – that is, the Eligibility Window. During that window, the candidate’s approved Eligibility Packet will remain in effect. However, the GPCI Board of Directors recognizes the changes that may occur within the eligibility criteria and have since 2007 considered the Eligibility Packet a time-sensitive document. Therefore, all candidates must sit for their GPC Exam within the assigned 90-day Eligibility Window. If a candidate fails one or both sections of the exam, s/he will receive a letter from GPCI detailing this. The candidate has 120 days from the date of that letter to retake and pass one/both sections of the GPC exam. We provide here a scenario to demonstrate:

  • Bob applies for the GPC Exam by August 1 and is deemed eligible for the exam on September 1. Bob’s Eligibility Window is: September 1, 2016 to November 30, 2017.
  • Bob takes the exam on October 15, 2017.
  • Bob’s exam is scored and reported on/about December 15, 2017. Bob passes the Multiple Choice but does not pass the writing (or vice versa). The letter states that his retake eligibility window is now December 15, 2017 to April 14, 2018.
  • Bob remits the Exam Retake Fee and schedules the writing retake for March 6.