NACD Directorship Certification
Frequently Asked Questions
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What is a professional certification?
A certification is a tool that signifies to others that a standard for competence within a profession has been met; in this case, the profession of directorship. Designing a certification program requires conducting an analysis of the critical knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) professionals need to perform their role competently. The results of this Job-Task Analysis guides curriculum, exam development, and test administration.
What does it mean to become NACD Directorship Certified®? Why is it important?
NACD Directorship Certification® is more than a credential. It is a commitment to excellence in the boardroom and a declaration to your peers and stakeholders that you are prepared to meet the biggest challenges facing the board today.
Experienced directors must demonstrate that they are keeping on top of the emerging issues and trends impacting financial performance, disrupting business models, and changing the competitive landscape. Certification is an instrument that allows boards to recognize directors who have demonstrated their professional commitment and growth in navigating complex business issues, providing strategic oversight , and driving organizational performance.
Certification signifies meeting a standard of directorship competence as seen through knowledge, skills, and abilities. It validates your understanding of board responsibilities, governance, best practices, and emerging trends, allowing you to contribute to the boardroom dialogue on day one.
Are there other programs like this?
NACD Directorship Certification is the premier directorship certification program in the United States. Director credentialing has become the norm in other countries, most notably in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and, more recently, South Africa and Brazil.
Is there a practice exam?
NACD offers a complimentary (non-proctored) practice exam to help support your NACD Directorship Certification® exam preparation efforts. It is a study tool designed to test your knowledge, identify areas for improvement, and build your confidence before taking the certification exam. The practice exam is only accessible to eligible candidates who have received authorization to test and can be taken multiple times.
Is the exam available online?
Yes—NACD Directorship Certification can be completed entirely online. From the foundation course to the Certification exam, you can access the entire program on your schedule—anytime, anywhere.
If I am an NACD Fellow, can I apply for Certification?
NACD encourages members with the Fellowship credential to enter the Certification program. Those with an active Fellowship status have already met the eligibility requirements and can register for and take the exam.
For more information, or to discuss how Certification can support your board work, please contact the NACD Credentials Team.
Can I still become certified if I live in a country outside of the United States?
Yes—NACD Directorship Certification is available to members living outside of the United States who meet the eligibility requirements.
Am I eligible to sign up for the Certification program?
Candidates must meet the following minimum criteria to join the program:
- You must currently serve as a director in a private, public, and/or nonprofit organization.
- You must hold an active NACD membership. If you’re not a current NACD member, you can join during the application process.
- Experienced directors who meet one of the following criteria may skip the foundation course and proceed directly to the exam.
- Have served on a public company board for three or more consecutive years within the past five years
- Have served on a private company or a nonprofit board with over $250 million in revenue for three or more consecutive years within the past five years.
- Have already taken one of the following trainings:
- NACD Director Professionalism* in-person or online
- NACD “From Battlefield to Boardroom”
- Candidates who do not meet the experienced directors criteria above will be required to take Virtual Director Professionalism™ as a foundational course, which can be purchased as a bundle with Certification. Completion of the course meets the eligibility criteria to proceed to the NACD Directorship Certification online exam.
*If you took Director Professionalism prior to January 2017, NACD suggests the Foundation Course & Exam Bundle.
Do I need to be an NACD member to become NACD Directorship Certified®?
Yes, NACD membership [link to: nacdonline.org/join] is required. If you are not yet an NACD member, you may join as part of your Certification application process. If you have questions about membership, please email email@example.com.
How do I start the application process?
What if I have already completed the foundation course? How do I begin the application process?
Members who have completed Director Professionalism® or Virtual Director Professionalism® are eligible to begin the certification application process by accessing the login page.
I’m currently enrolled in Virtual Director Professionalism®. How do I begin the Certification process?
Members who are enrolled but have not yet completed Virtual Director Professionalism are not yet eligible to begin the Certification application. You must successfully complete the entire Virtual Directorship Professionalism course.
Can I apply for certification before completing my upcoming Director Professionalism® course?
Members who have enrolled in but have not yet attended an already-scheduled Director Professionalism course are not eligible to complete the online application for Certification until the course has concluded. After successfully completing the course, you are elegible to begin your application.
How much does the NACD Directorship Certification® cost?
Certification Bundle: Foundation Course & Exam:
NACD Individual Member, $4,900
NACD Full-Board Member, $3,750
Certification Exam Only:
NACD Individual Member: $3,000
NACD Full-Board Member: $1,500
New NACD Membership Bundle: Save 15% when combining an NACD Individual membership, foundation course, and the certification exam:
NACD Individual Member Bundle: $5,335
What is the recertification fee?
To maintain your Certification, there is a $195 recertification fee every two years. You will be able to pay online once you have met your recertification credit requirements.
How do I pay?
During the online application process, you will be given an option for payment during checkout. You can process your payment online via credit card. If you need assistance or would like to pay using a different method, please contact us.
Recertification fees are payable online at the end of your certification term, provided that 32 credits have been attained.
Once Certification fees are satisfied, they are considered nonrefundable and nontransferable.
Where do I take the test?
The NACD Directorship Certification® exam is administered by Pearson VUE, a global leader in computer-based testing. Once you apply for Certification, you will receive instructions on preparing for and scheduling the exam at a testing center or online.
For more information on the exam, visit the program details page.
When can I schedule the exam?
NACD members who meet the eligibility criteria and have satisfied the exam fee are eligible to complete the exam within the six (6) month eligibility window.
Members who are required to complete a foundation course must finish it in its entirety before they will be permitted to schedule the exam. Testing dates typically have limited availability, so to select from the greatest range of available dates we recommend scheduling the exam promptly once provided access to scheduling.
How is the exam structured?
The exam consists of two parts: multiple-choice questions and case-management problems.
How long is the exam, and how many questions does it have?
The examination consists of two parts:
- Part I consists of 75 multiple-choice questions. You will have 90 minutes (about 1 and a half hours) to complete it.
- Part II consists of 10 case-management problems, each with three or four steps. You will have 95 minutes (about 1 and a half hours) to complete it.
For more details, visit the program details or request the NACD Directorship Certification Candidate Handbook.
When do I receive the NACD Directorship Certification Study Guide?
Upon confirmation of your Certification application, you will gain access to the NACD Directorship Certification Study Guide.
What if I need to reschedule or cancel my exam appointment?
You may cancel a scheduled examination appointment by contacting Pearson VUE anytime up to 48 hours before your scheduled exam slot. Canceled appointments may be rescheduled within your allowed testing window.
If you miss your appointment, fail to cancel at least 48 hours before your appointment, or arrive more than 30 minutes after your scheduled exam time, you will automatically fail the examination and will need to reschedule your exam appointment for a later date. You will also forfeit your current examination fee and pay a rescheduling fee of $250.00 to retake the exam.
You may appeal these charges to NACD in the event of serious circumstances or causes beyond your reasonable control, including, but not limited to, fire or other casualties, an act of God, or a medical emergency.
Will I need to renew the NACD Directorship Certification®?
Recertification is required every two years. Directors need to earn 32 NACD Credits within their 24-month recertification cycle to recertify. A $195 recertification fee will apply.
For more information, visit the NACD Certified Directors page.
What is the recertification fee?
There is a $195 recertification fee every two years. You will be able to pay online once you have met your recertification credit requirements and your current certification term is expiring.
How do I earn credits toward recertification?
To receive credits toward maintaining your Certification, attend events and director programming education including the annual NACD Directors Summit, webinars, Chapter programming, peer-to-peer roundtables, annual events, chapter programs, and on-demand learning, and through NACD Education Network™ programs provided by universities across the country.
NACD credits can also be achieved by participating as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in exam development activities. For more information about recertification, visit the NACD Certified Directors page.
Are programs from other institutions recognized for NACD Credits?
NACD has partnered with several leading academic institutions to form the NACD Education Network. The Network lets NACD Directorship Certified™ directors earn NACD Credits through leading programs at universities across the country.
I have read the FAQs and still have questions. Who should I contact?
We’re here to help. Please contact the NACD Credentialing Team with any questions or concerns you may have.