CRA Study Group

About the CRA Study Group

The CRA Study Group is a self-study program facilitated by small group meetings and designed for all UT Austin research administrators who are interested in and qualify to take the certified research administrator (CRA) exam. The CRA exam is managed by the Research Administrators Certification Council (RACC), an independent certifying body. To learn more about the CRA and other certifications offered by RACC, please visit their website ( A CRA designation demonstrates a broad knowledge of all aspects of research administration including, but not limited to, project development and administration, legal requirements and sponsor interface, financial management, and general management of sponsored research.

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What are the benefits of the CRA?
  • Professional recognition
  • On-going professional development
  • Personal satisfaction
  • Demonstration of expertise
  • Increased credibility
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Service as a professional role model and mentor

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Who is eligible to sit for the CRA exam?

Candidates applying to sit for the CRA examination must have these requirements:

1. Bachelor’s Degree and three (3) years of professional experience in research or sponsored programs administration either in a sponsoring or recipient organization or the equivalent in a self-funded organization;

2. An Associate’s Degree and five (5) years of professional experience in research or sponsored programs administration either in a sponsoring or recipient organization or the equivalent in a self-funded organization;

*3. No degree and six (6) years of professional experience in research or sponsored programs administration either in a sponsoring or recipient organization or the equivalent in a self-funded organization.

*This option requires completion of a Petition Application.

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What is the exam’s format?

There are two testing periods, one in May and the other in November, each year. In order to take the exam you must submit an application at the CRA website. The exam fee is $375.00, which must be paid by the participant or the participant's department. You will then receive a letter in the mail indicating whether or not your application has been accepted and instructions for scheduling your exam. The applications are normally due in March or April for the May testing period and in September or early October for the November testing period.

You will be required to take the exam through the Professional Testing Corporation at an approved exam site. The exam consists of 250 computerized multiple choice questions within the below categories and allocations:

  • Project Development and Administration 30%
  • Legal Requirements and Sponsor Interface 30%
  • Financial Management 25%
  • General Management 15%

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What are the recertification requirements?

To maintain your CRA designation, you will be required to recertify every five (5) years. You will need to complete a recertification application which describes your continuing education activities over the previous five (5) years in research administration. You will be responsible for tracking your contact hours which can include participation in workshops/conferences, delivering presentations, writing articles, etc. See the complete list of eligible contact hour activities on the RACC website.

Recertification requires 80 contact hours of continuing education. You will also be required to submit 3 exam questions for possible use on future exams. The recertification fee is $195.00.

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What resources are available?

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How do I participate in the CRA study group?

If you plan to sit for the exam, you are eligible to participate in the CRA study group. Please contact Catharine Corder at

If you are already certified, and would like to attend as a mentor to support your colleagues, please contact Catharine Corder as well. Your experience and expertise is valued, and participation is eligible toward your own recertification.

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What is the study group format?

The study group meets weekly for one-hour sessions over the 15-week course. The sessions are modeled after a research seminar style in which participants research and informally present topics (individually or in pairs) to the group. The course topics outlined in the syllabus are taken from the RACC Body of Knowledge, and content for each topic is identified in the syllabus from the Body of Knowledge itself and the Guide to Managing Federal Grants.

The study group is a group effort. Success for the group relies on each team member contributing and participating at each session.

Please note that attending these sessions alone will not guarantee that you will pass the exam. The study group is an additional resource designed to support you in your continued pursuit of your own professional development.

The volume of material that could be on the exam is too great to cover exhaustively. By participating in the study team you will likely be able to determine subject areas with which you are less familiar and may require additional focus on your own time.

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Weekly one-hour study group sessions will meet at both main campus and West Pickle campus locations.  See the OSP calendar for the current semester’s dates, times, and locations.

The study group is scheduled to coincide with a regular lunch hour, but attending the sessions may require some additional travel time. Prior to committing to attend, discuss the program benefits and requirements with your supervisor and seek approval for participation if necessary.

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