Frequently Asked Questions


1. Who registers for your programs?

Our programs are global and designed for  boards, board members, and senior executives seeking to strengthen their competencies in governance, strategic leadership and sustainability in the face of unprecedented uncertainty, complexity and transformation. Our 1000+ alumni represent nearly 60 countries.

2. What languages are your programs offered in?

Currently our programs are offered in English.

3. How long do you have access to the Competent Boards learning platform?

Our on-demand Certificate programs allow access to the platform for six months to complete the program Once you complete the program and receive your certificate of completion, your access to the learning management platform will expire. If you would like continued access to the materials, you can join our Alumni Membership.

4. Do people ever fail the programs?

Yes, approximately 3% of participants do not pass the first time.

5. Do alumni secure board seats as a result of taking the programs?

Although it’s hard to quantify exactly what percentage, many participants tell us having Competent Boards credentials helped them get a board seat.

6. What happens after graduation?

There is an Alumni membership program that offers numerous ways to continue upgrading your knowledge and enhancing networking opportunities (see Alumni section for more information).

7. Do any of the programs offer Continuing Education (CLE/CPE) credits?

Our Sustainability and ESG Program is accredited and provides up to 47 CLE credits in most US states, as well as 13.6 CPE credits across the US and Canada.

To apply for either of these credits, please contact us at

Eligible for up to 13.6 CPE Credits 

Field of Study: Specialized Knowledge

Program Level: Intermediate

Delivery Method: QAS-SELF STUDY

Advance Preparation: None

CEU Institute is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: 

8. What's the difference between the three Sustainability and ESG programs?

Sustainability & ESG Designation (GCB.D) and Certification Program

Our flagship offering for business leaders, investors, board directors and those who advise them. You and your fellow cohort members are together for 6 sessions over 12 weeks, interacting live with our expert faculty on the full range of the 12 ESG topics that make up the curriculum. 

You get to know your fellow cohort members through case study discussions in small groups, as well as your board simulation preparation, which serves as the final exam. The program is currently available three times per year. At the end, you will get a designation to put behind your name (GCB.D), a certificate of completion, and a certified Credly badge for your LinkedIn profile.

Sustainability & ESG Certificate Program

The ESG Certificate Program is the on-demand (pre-recorded) version of our global Sustainability & ESG Designation & Certification Program. You can take this program at your own pace with a six month window to complete it. It uses the same high quality course materials as the Designation Program, and includes six optional monthly live Q&A sessions with others enrolled in the program, hosted by Competent Boards’ founder and CEO, Helle Bank Jorgensen. The main difference between this program and the Designation program is it does not provide additional live sessions with our faculty members, all insight from faculty is delivered in the form of Leader Insight videos. At the end, you get a certificate of completion and a certified Credly badge for your LinkedIn profile.

Sustainability & ESG Accelerator for Decision-Makers

The Sustainability & ESG Accelerator for Decision-Makers is a shorter course for business leaders across various industries who seek to stay current with the core aspects of sustainability and ESG. You can take this course at your own pace and you have four months to complete it. At the end, you get a certificate of completion and a certified Credly badge for your LinkedIn profile.

9. Are Competent Boards programs just for the leaders of large public companies?

Program registrants come from a range of organizations and sizes, both publicly and privately held, as well as crown corporations/federal agencies, not-for-profits, and international agencies and institutions (World Bank, the UN, IFC, ADB, etc.).

Designation programs

1. Is there a deadline to apply for the Designation programs?

We recommend that you apply as soon as possible as several of our past programs have sold out and been waitlisted.

2. How many participants are in each Designation program?

We aim to cap participation at 36 participants in each program so that the group size is optimal for networking and discussions.

3. Do the programs have final exams?

The Designation programs’ final exam is a boardroom simulation where participants present to a panel of board directors on a case study provided to them in advance. The Sustainability & ESG Accelerator for Decision-Makers program doesn’t have a final exam.

4. What happens if I miss an interactive session?

You can miss up to four sessions of the Global Sustainability and ESG Designation & Certification Program, and still complete the program. You can miss up to two sessions for the Climate & Biodiversity Designation Program, and still obtain the designation and certificate once you have completed the program. 

We will always send you session recordings of any missed sessions.

5. What is the time commitment for the programs?

Sustainability & ESG Designation & Certification program

The estimated monthly time commitment for participants is approximately 8 to 10 hours. This includes:

  • Two live sessions totaling 2.5 hours.
  • Study time for four modules per month, requiring about 5.5 to 7 hours.

Climate & Biodiversity Designation program

The estimated monthly time commitment for participants is approximately 6 to 7 hours: This includes:

  • Two live sessions totalling 3 hours.
  • Study time for two modules per month, requiring about 3 – 4 hours.

Sustainability & ESG Accelerator for Decision-Makers program

The estimated monthly commitment for participants is approximately 8 hours. This includes:

  • Study time for one module per week, requiring 2 hours.
6. How does the Sustainability and ESG Designation & Certification Program differ from other programs?
  • Competent BoardsTM is the original and premier creator of world-class online environment, social, governance (ESG) and climate training programs for board directors and business leaders. We have been providing sustainability and ESG upskilling for boards and business leaders since 2018. Other programs were created much more recently.
  • Several other programs are focused on sustainable business strategy, but are not designed from the lens of good corporate governance and/or designed for business leaders to provide oversight on these issues and identify risks and opportunities. Our programs are designed from, and for, the viewpoint of business leaders and board members.
  • Our Program provides a strong overview of all aspects of sustainability and ESG, which is becoming increasingly important at the board table, and for senior management and stakeholders. Most programs do not cover the variety of topics we do (AI, cyber security, geopolitics, human capital, along with traditional Environment, Social, and Governance topics). Our alumni have attested to how our program has opened their mind and enhanced their perspective on all facets of sustainability and ESG. 
  • Our programs cater to global participants and the content is not focused on any particular region. Many programs for board directors are focused more locally, but our programs offer a global faculty and lens that allows for you to gain a diverse range of perspectives in a global business context. 
  • We have 180-plus renowned international board members, executives, and experts contributing to our materials, providing interview videos, and joining our sessions to speak directly with participants. 
  • Many competitive programs are solely provided as a “self-study” program, or are in large groups/webinar format. Our Designation programs provide small group interactions, unparalleled camaraderie and an invaluable network that extends long after the program finishes. The interaction with fellow cohort members and faculty makes the program fun and highly engaging, while providing a great opportunity for networking.
7. What is the Return on Investment?

Earning a Designation from Competent Boards will enable you to:

  • Differentiate yourself, standing tall with the select minority of leaders who have earned a certification.
  • Stay abreast of latest developments in sustainability leadership and governance, creating competitive advantage and long term value for multiple stakeholders (e.g., energy transition scenario planning).
  • Support your organization in complying with mandatory disclosure requirements on board competency, such as IFRS S1 and S2.
  • Engage directly with expert global faculty and peer-to-peer case based experiential learning.
  • Be part of a lifelong community of active learners committed to board leadership on the front lines of corporate governance.
  • Be more anticipatory, build trust and encourage integrated thinking to obtain, retain, and upgrade your board positions with greater influence and accountability.
  • Make a difference – for your organization, for your investors, and for society and the world at large.
8. What is the value of the designation?

The Global Competent Boards Designation (GCB.D) or Climate Competent Boards Designation (CCB.D) are designations that you receive in addition to a certificate of completion and a digital badge. These designations recognize the knowledge and skills that you have gained through actively taking part in our online global dialogue sessions. 

Having the designation behind your name on LinkedIn and on your email signature and business cards signals your enhanced knowledge. Our alumni report that it also spurs outside interest and opens doors for new positions. If you are currently on a board, companies will typically include your designation with your board profile for shareholders to showcase your additional competencies in climate and/or ESG.

The designation is very rigorous and experiential with a capstone board simulation administered by an independent panel of global board experts.

9. What is the difference between a Designation program and a Certificate program?

The difference between our Designation programs and our Certificate programs is that the Designation Programs are interactive, with live Zoom sessions with your cohort and the faculty speaking for each session. The Certificate programs are self-guided, and although they have the exact same study materials, do not include live interactive sessions with faculty. Instead, the interactive component of the Certificate programs is optional, where you are welcome to join monthly Q&A sessions with Competent Boards Founder and CEO, Helle Bank Jorgensen. You earn certificates and digital badges from both programs, but only earn a designation from the interactive Designation programs.

10. What do I need to prepare before the interactive sessions for the Designation programs?

For each session, we send out a set of preparation materials two weeks in advance. These include a strategic series of Leader Insight videos with some of our 180-plus global subject-matter experts on their views and advice, a case study and a curated list of recommended readings and tools, as well as a list of questions to help you assess where your organization stands on these issues.

11. What is the Chatham House Rule?
  • We hold our live sessions under the Chatham House Rule. That means participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. We do not share session recordings outside the cohort members.

Certificate programs

1. What is the time commitment for the programs?

Based on the key materials for each session, including leader insight videos and core readings, we estimate that you will spend roughly 2-2.5 hours per module. There are 12 modules in the Sustainability and ESG Certificate Program and six in the Climate and Biodiversity Certificate Program. You will have six months to complete either program at your own pace.

2. Is there a final exam?

Certificate programs end with a written reflection exam, including multiple-choice, short- and long answer questions.

3. How often are the courses offered?

The Certificate programs are available to start at any time.


1. Are there benefits for alumni?

Alumni can network with others in our Competent Boards Alumni LinkedIn group. We also offer alumni special invites to events, alumni update sessions, mentoring opportunities and  webinars. Our alumni membership also offers continued access to course materials as well as additional knowledge-building and networking opportunities.

2. Does the certificate or designation expire?

The certificate and designation do not currently expire, however this feature is coming. With regulations changing quickly globally, alumni will soon be required to refresh their skillset every two years. This will not require redoing the entire program. Renewal details will be available in August of 2024.


1. What is your refund policy?

For the Designation programs, we will provide refunds for cancellations that we receive in writing to no later than 30 days prior to the course start date with a 7.5% administration fee (plus applicable taxes). Non-attendance will incur the full course fee. 

We will not issue refunds for the Certificate programs or if we have given you advance access to the learning materials.

2. Can I be considered for a scholarship to join the program?

We are actively searching for companies who are interested in supporting compelling leaders who are unable to finance their participation in the program. While we do not have any open scholarship opportunities at this time, we put out a call for applications to our mailing list and on our social media when we find an open scholarship opportunity.

3. Do you offer a corporate group discount?

If more than five people from one organization join the same cohort, we will offer a 5% discount for those taking part. Larger groups qualify for larger discounts.

4. Can I get a tax credit when I pay for the program?

In Canada, you can deduct the course if you are self-employed and the course is related to your work. 

The rest of the world will have different tax structures, so we would recommend looking into your country’s tax policies.

5. Can I combine promotional offers?

You can only apply one discount code per purchase. For any subscription (payment plan) purchases, you can apply one discount code on the initial purchase to reduce the selected monthly payments.

Welcome, which course are you interested in:

Primarily discuss the topics through the lens of serving on the board. You must be serving on at least one board with fiduciary responsibility to enter this stream.

Discuss the topics through a wide range of business perspectives (including the board) and comprise senior executives, investors, and board advisors.

Keep current with us.

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