The American Guild of Organists was chartered in 1896 by the Board of Regents, University of the State of New York, to administer a comprehensive series of examinations for professional certification. Through the Professional Certification Committee the Guild offers the following certificates:

Service Playing Certificate (SPC)
Colleague (CAGO)
Choir Master (ChM)
Associateship (AAGO)

View Committee on Professional Certification Members (CPC)

Videos Demonstrating Certification Exam Procedures

Ordering Educational Resources for Certification:

To obtain detailed requirements for each examination, contact National Headquarters by email, fax, mail or telephone. To order Educational Resources for Certification, click here.

The Examination Hymn Booklet: 2013 Revised Edition With Service Playing Certificate Test Supplement is available in PDF format. Contact the certification office at exams@agohq.org to obtain a copy.

2016 Examination Dates

Service Playing Certificate Test:
October 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016 (note date change from April to March)

Colleague Examination:
November 13, 2015 and May 13, 2016; November 14, 2016

Choir Master Examination: 
May 25, 2016
(morning and afternoon)

Associateship Examination:
May 26 and 27, 2016
(paperwork section both mornings; organ playing one of the afternoons)

Fellowship Examination:
May 26 and 27, 2016
(paperwork section both mornings; organ playing one of the afternoons).

Exam Locations
Certification Chart

Application Deadlines

Service Playing Test:
February 1 is the final application deadline. (Applications for SPC tests between October and early February should be be received at least 3 weeks prior to the scheduled test date.)

Colleague Examination:
September 15 for the November CAGO exam; March 1 for the May CAGO exam.

Fellowship, Associate, and Choir Master:
1 April

Articles for exam preparation that have appeared in recent issues of TAO include:

AGO Colleague Examination 2013/Improvisation Question/The Modulating Bridge, by Philip Gehring, FAGO, Oct. 2013, pp. 80-81; Correction shown on p. 60 of Jan. 2014
AGO Service Playing Anthem Accompaniment/Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace: Approaches to Wesley’s Most Popular Anthem by Jonathan B. Hall, FAGO, ChM, pp. 46-47, August 2012
“It Don’t Mean A Thing If You Can’t Make ‘Em Sing”/Leading Hymn Singing from the Organ: A Practical Checklist, by Kenneth Grinnell, FAGO, ChM, April 2006, pp. 52-54.
Regular Countersubjects in Fugue, by Walter Hilse, FAGO, March 2008, pp. 52-54.
Ten Tips on Sight Reading, by Jonathan B. Hall, FAGO, March 2009, pp. 84-85.
The Fugal Answer, by Walter Hilse, FAGO, April 2006, pp. 102-103
Transposition: Not a Four-Letter Word, by Kenneth Grinnell, FAGO, May 2008, pp. 82-83.
Two Additional Service Playing Test Anthems, by Joyce Shupe Kull, FAGO, ChM, April 2006, p. 104.
Two Additional Service Playing Test Pieces, by Kathleen Thomerson, FAGO, ChM, October 2009, p. 42.

The last two articles are also in the Study Guide for the AGO Service Playing Test, booklet and CD available for $20 ($18 for members) from AGO National Headquarters, or order online at www.agohq.org/store.

pdf-large-typeManual of Procedure
Service Playing Test

pdf-large-typeManual of Procedure
Colleague Exam

pdf-large-typeManual of Procedure
Associate and Fellowship Examination

pdf-large-typeChart of Requirements


pdf-large-typeDetailed Professional Certification Requirements


pdf-large-typeAGO Bibliography for Examination Preparation


2015 Examination Fees

Service Playing Certificate Test
$150, Student rate $125

Both sections $175, Single section $150
Student rate both sections $150, single section $125

Choir Master
Both sections $300, single section $250
(No student rate.)

Both sections $300, single section $250
Student rate both sections $275, single section $225

Both sections $300, single section $250
(No student rate.)

Surcharge for nonmembers of the AGO

To request an application for an examination, contact AGO National Headquarters by email, fax, mail or telephone.