While there isn't an industry standard grant writing credential you can complete fully online, there are online training options to prepare you to earn a certification credential or professional certificate specific to grant writing. If you're interested in online training to boost your skills as a grant writer, there are a number of opportunities to consider.
American Grant Writers Association
The American Grant Writers Association (AGWA) is the professional association behind the Certified Grant Writer (CGW) credential. While you can't take the actual certification exam online, their Program Development and Proposal Writing (PDPW) course, which is part of their Certified Grant Writer Series, can be completed online.
The PDPW course is a self-paced online course that includes six assignments focused on "the finer points of grant writing" specific to "program / project support and general operating grants." There is no set schedule and you will work through your coursework individually. Your instructor will send your assignments via email one at a time, and you will have up to 90 days to complete the coursework. You can request up to two 90 day extensions if you need longer to finish, but there is a $100 fee for each extension.
Program Cost and Exam Locations
When you sign up, you will actually register for the entire series, which includes the PDPW online course; a one-day, in-person exam review session; and the exam itself, which is given the day after the review class.
The series costs $1,400. You must complete the PDPW program before attending the review session or sitting for the exam. The exam review session and exam are offered in specified locations throughout the country. Locations for 2018 and 2019 include Baltimore, New Orleans, St. Louis, Orlando and Detroit.
Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University offers an eight-week University Grant Writing Certification Program that can be completed online. The certification is specific to course completion rather than taking on the form of letters you can list behind your name. However, the course does provide an instructor-led educational experience that allows you to participate in class sessions with other learners rather than having to work totally independently.
With that in mind, you'll have to attend one of the university's scheduled sessions. They have three start dates each year. Contact the university to ask to be informed of future session dates as they become available.
What You Will Learn
This class focuses on writing grant proposals and is an introductory level course. It emphasizes key parts of "the most sophisticated type of proposals," covering every aspect of proposal writing. You'll learn key skills associated with effectively writing each aspect, including the "title page, abstract, statement of need, goal, objectives, procedures, budget, qualifications, evaluation, sustainability, dissemination, sources cited, and appendix."
Testimonials and Cost
The program has a number of positive student testimonials, indicating a high level of student satisfaction. The total cost is $175.
ExpertRating Grant Writing Certification
If you're looking for a program that costs even less and can be completed fully online, you might find the ExpertRating Grant Writing Certification to be a good option. ExpertRating is an online certification and testing provider that offers several hundred online certification opportunities. Their ExpertRating Grant Writing Course is "beneficial for anyone who is interested in grant writing but is not sure how to get started."
What to Expect
This credential doesn't demonstrate expert level mastery of grant writing, but does provide verification that you have studied and passed a test on the basics of the grant writing process and how to look for grant opportunities to apply for. If you are looking for an entry level job as a grant writer, this credential could be a good way to demonstrate basic knowledge and genuine interest to prospective employers.
The course consists of computer-based training (CBT) courseware that you will work through at your own pace. It generally takes a month or less to complete the curriculum. Once you have finished, you will take a final exam based on the material you learned. You can take the exam as soon as you complete the course materials, or you can wait for up to a year. You will receive a certificate once you successfully pass the course.
The grant writing course from ExpertRating costs around $70.
A Word of Caution
While the concept of certification is a popular one in various professions, the field of grant writing is not one where there is a commonly accepted credential that represents an industry-standard certification. An article published by the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO) cautions that most grant writing programs that claim to offer certifications are really just "certifying that you took a class on the topic of grant writing" rather than actually certifying you as a professional in the field.
Still, any training that you have an opportunity to participate in can be very beneficial, as it can help you improve your skills and increase your chances of successfully securing grant funding for your organization.