What is the CAE® Program?

Answer: The Certified Association Executive® (CAE) is a professional designation awarded to not-for-profit professionals who have demonstrated their skill, knowledge and experience in a set of competencies which have been deemed critical to the sector. CSAE has certified not-for-profit leaders in the practice of association management since 1972. Those interested in the designation can opt to complete the program through the traditional online learning path, through the Prior Learning Assessment Recognition path, or through a combination of both. PLAR may be selected in any of the following courses: CAE 100, CAE 200, CAE 300, CAE 400.

Is the CAE® Program for me?

Answer: Do you work for an association or not-for-profit organization? Do you (or do you aspire to) work at a managerial level? Do you need immediate and applicable knowledge and skills to help support you in your career? Do you have good time-management skills to balance course work with your personal and professional life? Do you have access to the internet, e-mail and a computer on a regular basis? Are you interested in networking with other professionals in the sector? Then the CAE® Program is for you!

How will the CAE® Program benefit my organization?

Answer: In each course, you will have two assignments (e.g. a case study or a benchmarking report). For these assignments, you are encouraged to act as a “consultant” for your organization, which means your coursework has immediate and practical application to your organization.
In addition, the assigned questions in the discussion forum are specifically designed to get you thinking about your organization. You will share resources, best practices and experiences with colleagues and instructors that will directly benefit the work you do every day.

How long does it take to finish the CAE® Program?

Answer: The average student takes about two years to complete the program but you have up to five years to finish. Most students take one course per term and the terms are 12 weeks long. A student typically spends 10 to 12 hours each  week on the course.

How can I register?

Answer: You can register online through the CAE® Course & Exam Calendar, by phone at 416.363.3555 x 242 or 1.800.461.3608 x 242 or by e-mailing cae@csae.com. Tuition fees can be paid by credit card (VISA, MasterCard, AMEX) or by cheque payable to Canadian Society of Association Executives. Payment must be received in full before the course start date.

How do the fees work? What support will I receive throughout the program?

Answer: Each course in the CAE® Program has a CSAE member and non-member rate. There is also a one-time materials fee applicable when registering for your first course. For the total cost of the program, use the CAE® Program Calculator

What support will I receive throughout the program?

Answer: The CAE® Department will help you with registration, orientation and access to the course content, as well as any technical problems that come up. The courses are all facilitated by CAEs who each have over 25 years of experience in the sector. The instructors will offer guidance and feedback for assignments and will moderate the discussion in the forum throughout the term.

What is the pass rate for the CAE® Exam?

Answer: The current pass rate for the CAE® Exam is 87%.

What will I get when I have successfully completed the program?

Answer: Once you have successfully completed the program and passed the CAE® Exam, you will have earned your CAE designation and can use it after your name as long as you are a member of CSAE in good standing. In addition, you will receive a certificate by mail and will be presented the CAE pin at the CSAE Conference & Showcase during the Honours & Awards ceremony.

What is the passing grade?

Answer: You must achieve a grade of 60% in each course and the CAE® Exam to pass.

Are there any other ways to earn the CAE designation?

Answer: If you have at least five years of management experience in the association sector and think you’ve already mastered most of the competencies, please find out more about PLAR (Prior Learning Assessment Recognition).

Can I take more than one course at a time?

Answer: Each course has a fairly significant workload and we do not recommend taking more than one course per term, especially when you are first starting in the program. If you are experienced in the program and have additional free time to spend, we will allow you to register for more than one. However, you must complete CAE 100-400 before you can register for CAE 500.

What is the format of the CAE® Exam?

Answer: The Certified Association Executive (CAE®) Exam is conducted via the internet. The ‘open book’ exam will be in case study format and will include three questions weighted at 25, 35 and 40 marks respectively. The CAE® Department will provide you with resources to help you prepare for the exam, and will host a conference call to answer any questions you might have.  The exam will be released to the participants on a Friday at noon EST through the course site, followed by a one-hour period for questions of clarification. Your completed exam must be uploaded in the course site by the following Sunday at noon EST, giving the candidates 48 hrs to complete it.

How will the CAE® Program benefit me?

Answer: According to CAE® Program graduates, the primary benefits to completing the program are:

  • knowledge and skills in association management
  • benchmarking
  • networking with peers
  • expanded career opportunities and
  • greater self-confidence and credibility

In addition, CSAE’s 2018/2019 Association Executive Benefits and Compensation Report found that CAEs earn up to 35% more than their non-certified counterparts.

What are the topics of each of the 5 courses?

Answer: The CAE® Program consists of the following five courses:

  • CAE 100 – Association Leadership, Change, Strategy & Structure
  • CAE 200 – Association Membership Services
  • CAE 300 – Association Operations I (Operations Support)
  • CAE 400 – Association Operations II (Products & Services)
  • CAE 500 – Developments in Association Management

For full course descriptions, check out the CAE® Course & Exam Calendar.

When can I take a CAE® course and how long are they?

Answer: The CAE® Program offers all 5 courses over three 12-week terms per year, starting in January, April and September. A student typically spends 10 hours per week on a course but this can vary depending on your experience level in a given topic area, and may increase leading up to an assignment due date.

What types of students will be in the course with me?

Answer: Students in the CAE® Program come from a variety of backgrounds, with varying levels of experience and education. They also work for a variety of not-for-profit organizations including industry and professional associations, special or common interest groups, and organizations with a focus on health, social welfare, education and religion. There are also some international students in the program (e.g. Australia).

Do I have to take the courses in order?

Answer: There is a natural progression through the CAE® Program to help build upon your skills and knowledge of the sector. You do not have to take them in order if you feel there is a particular course that is immediately relevant. However, you must complete CAE 100, 200, 300 and 400 before you can start CAE 500.

When can I write the CAE® Exam?

Answer: The CAE® Exam is offered three times per year in January, May and August. In order to be eligible to write, you must complete all five CAE® courses, be a CSAE member and have a university degree and 2 years of not-for-profit management experience, or 5 years if you do not have a degree.

What happens if I can’t complete the course?

Answer: Any participant unable to complete the course may defer to a later date. Any marks earned for that term will carry over to the future course enrolment. A deferral fee of $200 (+GST/HST) applies upon re-enrolment. A student cannot defer a course more than twice during the entire program.

What will I receive after I complete each course?

Answer: After the successful completion of a CAE®course, you will have access to your transcript and a certificate of completion.

What resources will I receive when I enroll in the program?

Answer: Once you have registered, you will get access to your course materials which include the readings required for the entire duration of the program. You will also be able to access the student handbook that will cover administrative policies and various aspects of the courses themselves. You will be given access to the course website.  That is where you will access your lessons and additional readings.

What is PLAR?

Answer: Prior Learning Recognition (PLAR) is the identification, documentation, assessment and recognition of learning acquired through formal and informal study. Qualified individuals can submit a portfolio for consideration in order to gain credit for CAE 100 – CAE 400. Visit the PLAR page for more information.

How will I receive my results for the CAE® Exam?

Answer: CAEs will mark the exams using a standardized marking guide to generate a ‘pass’ or ‘fail.’  The results will be communicated to candidates by email as soon as possible after the exam.  Candidates are asked to allow up to eight weeks for the marking to take place. Once a passing grade is granted, you will receive a certificate and can use the designation after your name as long as you remain a member of CSAE in good standing.

What if I need to cancel?

Answer: You can cancel and receive a full refund minus a $100 administration fee (+GST/HST) up to 10 business days after the course start date. All cancellation requests must be submitted in writing. The course materials fee is non-refundable. Refunds will not be applicable for cancellation requests received more than 10 days into the course.

What are the goals of the program?

Answer: The CAE program raises the standards of professionalism in the not-for-profit sector by providing relevant education to executives. It also allows the individual to gain higher visibility within their organizations by demonstrating that level of professionalism.

How can I learn more?

Answer: Give us a call to book a consultation to find out if the CAE program is right for you.

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