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Grant writers connect people and groups seeking funding with funding sources. They work in a wide range of settings including nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, local governments, and businesses. If you're interested in a career in grant writing, consider developing your skills through an online program.
Grant writing is the process of completing applications for financial grants, which are non-repayable funds provided by organizations such as government departments, corporations, and foundations.
Before choosing an online grant writing program, assess your finances, available time, and career goals. Are you looking to earn a certificate or degree in grant writing as a step towards a future career, or are you mid-career and seeking to improve your grant writing skills? Once you've answered these questions, you can easily determine which program is best for you.
Free Online Grant Writing Resources
You can find plenty of grant writing tips, general information, and even a few classes online for free. These resources rarely offer official certification, credit, or continuing education units. However, if you're good at independent learning or are simply looking to beef up your existing skills, the following options might work well for you.
Coursera is home to a grant proposal course created by the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. The course carries a fee if you wish to have graded assignments and earn a course certificate, but you can audit all of the course videos for free.
MIT Open CourseWare
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology provides a wide range of classes for free through MIT OpenCourseWare. The institute's graduate level Advanced Writing Seminar covers much more than grant writing, but you'll find some excellent lessons on grants as well as writing and presentation tips that can improve your grant writing skills.
Minnesota Council on Foundations
The Minnesota Council on Foundations guide, Writing a Successful Grant Proposal, provides an overview of the key elements of a successful grant application.
If you're working for a nonprofit, nonprofitready.org offers two free online courses: Getting Foundation Grants and Grantsmanship Essentials. You'll need to create a free account to take these courses.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The United States Environmental Protection Agency's EPA Grants 101 Tutorial walks you through four steps of the grant application process. While the tutorial is focused on applying for EPA grants, the advice is useful for many other types of grant proposals.
Online Grant Writing Classes
You can find many reasonably-priced options for online grant writing courses. Below, you'll find some examples of these courses, along with course descriptions and costs.
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education offers two courses: an introductory-level course called A to Z Grant Writing, and a higher-level course called Advanced Grant Proposal Writing. Each course provides 24 hours of instruction for a cost of $159. The classes are offered on the ed2go.com platform.
Udemy delivers over a dozen courses on different aspects of grant writing. Options range from introductions to the grant writing process to more specialized classes on nonprofits and NIH grants. Courses are broken down into short lectures, and total course time ranges from 45 minutes to 5.5 hours. Each course costs $10.99.
University of Wisconsin
The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee offers an Introduction to Grant Writing course for $150. The course covers fundraising strategies and explores the six stages of grant writing. The class carries .5 continuing education units.
Online Grant Writing Certificate Programs
Many colleges offer online grant writing certificate programs. Costs vary, with typical prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to about $1,500. The required time commitment also varies significantly across courses.
These large variations in cost and time commitment reveal one of the problems with certificate programs: they tend to not be accredited programs, and some of the "certificates" merely represent that you paid for a program and made an attempt at completing the instruction modules. When choosing a program, look carefully at the curriculum and the depth of the instruction to ensure that the course is worth the investment. Start your research with this list of examples:
University of South Carolina
USC's Grant Writing Certificate Program involves thirty hours of classes covering four courses: Introduction to Grant Writing, Needs Based Assessment, Intermediate Grant Writing, and Program Development and Evaluation. Both online and classroom options are available for a fee of $1,322.
Arizona State University
Arizona State University offers two levels of grant writing certificates: Grant Development-State and Foundation Proposal Certificate for $999; and Advanced Grant Development-Federal Proposal Certificate for $1,175. The courses take six weeks, and students can expect to spend 12 to 15 hours a week on coursework.
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
UCCS offers an intensive credit-bearing certificate program, Graduate Certificate in Grant Writing, Management, and Program Evaluation. To apply for the program, students must hold a bachelor's degree. Completion of the certificate requires a grade of B- or better in four courses: Evaluation, Grant Writing, Grant Management, and an elective. Both classroom and online options are available.
University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida's Division of Continuing Education, in partnership with ed2go, offers a non-credit Certificate in Grant Writing and Nonprofit Management. The program includes four courses: Introduction to Nonprofit Management, Marketing Your Nonprofit, Writing Effective Grant Proposals, and Advanced Grant Proposal Writing. The cost is $465.
Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University offers an Eight-Week University Grant Writing Certification Program for $175. The class meets online for two months. Participants must receive a score of 70% or higher on the final exam to earn a certificate.
Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University offers a Grant Research and Writing Certificate Program through WorldEducation.net. This is a more thorough (and more expensive program) than many others with 150 hours of instruction at a cost of $2,995. To earn a certificate, students must complete five courses: Introduction to Grant Research, Introduction to Grant Writing, Specialized Techniques for Grant Writing, Technical Writing, and Advanced Grant Writing. The program can typically be completed in six months.
Online Grant Writing Degree Programs
Grant writing is generally not offered as a college major, so you won't find many degree programs focused solely on grant writing. Instead, grant writers tend to major in writing-focused fields such as English, marketing, or communication studies. That coursework is then supplemented with specialized coursework, a certificate program, or internship experience focused on grant writing.
One exception, however, is the MA in Grant Writing, Management and Evaluation program offered at Concordia University Chicago. Concordia's program takes an multidisciplinary approach to grant writing that includes collaboration with your student cohort and partnering with organizations relevant to your professional goals. The program is 100% online, requires 30 credit hours of coursework, and can be completed in 20 months. The cost is over $13,000, but unlike many graduate programs, financial aid is available.