Membership ensures remaining at the forefront of global developments and best practice in governance. Membership, and therefore possessing the qualification as a Chartered Secretary and or a Chartered Governance Professional, involves a career-long relationship with the ICSA – from professional qualification and beyond via CPD and ongoing technical support packages and tools.

The ICSA has three levels of membership – Affiliated Member, Associate and Fellow. 

For those individuals studying to become an Associate or Fellow, on the successful completion of the required examinations, graduates immediately become GradICSA. Upon gaining the necessary practical experience and deemed to be of appropriate upstanding character, graduates are admitted as members at Associate level, become a Chartered Secretary and or a Chartered Governance Professional and are entitled to use the post-nominal ACIS. Upon admission as a Fellow, the most senior grade of membership granted on more extensive experience, a Chartered Secretary or Chartered Governance Professional may include the prestigious ‘FCIS’ designation after his/her title.

For those individuals studying to become an Affiliated Member they can either study a reduced number of subjects in the ICSA’s formal qualifying programmes or study a number of self-standing courses/awards and may use the post-nominals of CIS(Affiliated).

What is a Chartered Secretary?

Chartered Secretaries are senior professionals trained in law, finance, governance and strategy. They principally work as company secretaries or in other similar roles. They are obliged to uphold the highest standards of governance practice and ethical behaviour.

Highly valued by employers for their ICSA training, Chartered Secretaries are the primary source of advice on governance to their board. Broadly, this can span everything from legal and accounting advice, to the development of strategy and corporate planning.

What is a Chartered Governance Professional?

Chartered Governance Professionals qualified by the ICSA have a deep understanding of governance usually across the listed company, public and/or not-for-profit sectors. They also have a deep understanding of risk management and how to apply it across their organisation.

Chartered Governance Professionals often act as their organisation’s company secretary but also often have roles as risk managers or compliance managers. They are obliged to uphold the highest standards of governance practice and ethical behaviour.

Why become a member?

You do not have to be a Chartered Secretary or Chartered Governance Professional to be a company secretary or work in a governance related roles. However, we firmly believe that becoming a Chartered Secretary and or a Chartered Governance Professional represents the gold standard of the governance profession.

Becoming an ICSA member will enhance your professional life in many ways:

  • You’ll stand out from the competition – those with professional qualifications instantly stand out to prospective employers. We estimate around three-quarters of company secretarial jobs have a professional qualification as a desirable or essential requirement.
  • It gives instant recognition of your professional and academic achievement – being chartered shows that you have reached a level of academic achievement and professional experience at a single glance.
  • You’ll continuously be updated with the latest thinking and trends in the profession – keeping up to date with the latest in the governance world couldn’t be easier. ICSA members receive their local journals or magazines, news, and technical briefings regularly.

How to qualify

Membership of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators can only be gained through completing the necessary study and examination requirements, possessing sufficient relevant experience and being of upstanding character.

From January 2019 the Institute will be introducing newly revised qualifying programmes. The new programmes include a greater emphasis on risk management and enterprise risk management; a revised focus on finance and decision making; introduction of a module on development of strategy as well as an updating of applied governance, corporate law and corporate secretarial practice.

Requirements for membership are the same worldwide, regardless of where a person resides.

The Council of the ICSA determines the study, examination and experience requirements but it is via the nine divisions that individuals complete their study and maintain their continuing professional development.

An individual’s prior study and experience will determine the examinations that need to be undertaken as well as any exemptions that may be granted.

Details of how to qualify as a member, including study timetables, exemption rules, study methods and costs can be found on each of the division’s websites.

Continuing Professional Development

The governance and risk landscape is constantly evolving, presenting new challenges to companies striving for responsible performance.

This is why all ICSA members are required to complete continuing professional development hours, ensuring they are always equipped with the highest standard and most up-to-date knowledge and skills.

Continuing professional development hours can be either structured or unstructured.

Structured activity can include face-to-face attendance at personal development events (external or in-house training), and can include courses, seminars, conferences and conventions, workshops and master-classes.

Unstructured activity can include reading and studying materials from journals, podcasts, CDs and DVDs and audio tapes.

Contact your local division to find out what is on offer in your region.

Advancing your membership

Affiliated Member

If you have qualified as an Affiliated Member by taking the reduced number of required subjects in the Institute’s formal qualifying programme, you can become an Affiliated Member.  If at some later time you want to progress to Associate you need only pass the remaining required exams.

If you have qualified as an Affiliated Member by undertaking some of the Institute’s stand-alone courses/awards you cannot progress to Associate unless you then pass exams in the formal qualifying programme.

In both cases you can use the post-nominals of CIS(Affiliated)


Once you’ve passed the full set of required exams in the Institute’s formal qualifying programmes you’ll become a graduate of ICSA. To attain graduateship you must first register as an ICSA student and formally accept GradICSA status. You can then use the post-nominal GradICSA.


ICSA graduates can apply for Associate status when they have completed six years of appropriate professional experience. This can be reduced to three years should you have a relevant degree. When you become an Associate, you are then a Chartered Secretary and or a Chartered Governance Professional and can use the post-nominal ACIS.


Associate members can become a Fellow of the Institute when they have reached a senior level and can demonstrate at least eight years’ relevant work experience. This can be reduced with relevant education qualifications in some circumstances. When you become a Fellow you can then use the post-nominal FCIS.

Disciplinary procedures

The byelaws contain established procedures for dealing with circumstances where a member’s actions may be called into question. All members worldwide are subject to the same standard of behaviour and disciplinary procedures.