Certified Research Administrator Exam

The Certified Research Administrator (CRA) exam is administered by the Research Administrators Certification Council (RACC), an independent certifying body. 

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.

Eligibility to Sit for the CRA Exam

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

  • 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; or 
  • 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; or 
  • *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.

Exam Registration and Testing Process

Exams are held each May and November and require registration. To begin the registration process, submit an CRA Exam Application, via the RACC, and pay the exam fee of $395. Interested participants should discuss with their supervisors whether this cost can be covered by their department. 

Upon completion of the application and payment, participants will receive mailed correspondence indicating their application’s acceptance and instructions for scheduling the exam. The exam is administered at an approved exam site by Professional Testing Corporation.

Exam Format

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% 

Exam Deadlines

Application Deadlines
April 10, 2024 (May window)
October 2, 2024 (November window)

Testing Periods
May 11 - 25, 2024
November 2 - 16, 2024

CRA Exam Resources

UT Austin CRA Study Group

The CRA Study Group is a self-study program facilitated by group meetings and designed for all interested UT research administrators who qualify to take the CRA exam. Please contact the OSP Training team at osp-training@austin.utexas.edu to join. 

Already certified, but want to attend as a mentor to support others? Individuals' experience and expertise are highly valued, and their participation makes them eligible for recertification.

Study Group Schedule

Weekly one-hour study group sessions will meet via Zoom invitation. See the calendar for the current semester’s dates, times and locations.

The study group is scheduled to coincide with a regular lunch hour (12pm-1pm). Prior to committing to attend, discuss the program benefits and requirements with a supervisor and seek approval for participation if necessary.

  • Group Study Resources provided include:
    • Handouts and written aids via Box
    • Weekly discussion/review per 13-week schedule
    • Course materials via Canvas
  • Sessions are modeled after a research seminar style in which participants research and informally present topics 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 and it is the expectation that participants sign up to discuss all, or a portion of that week’s study material. Success for the group relies on each team member contributing and participating at each session.
  • The volume of material that could be on the exam is too great to cover exhaustively. The study group helps participants determine which subject areas may require additional focus.

Attending the study group does not guarantee that a participant will pass the exam, but rather serves as an additional resource.

Recertification Term and Requirements for Recertification

Recertification requirements for the CRA will vary based on exam date. 

For those taking their CRA exam in 2023 or later: 

  • Certification is valid for a 3-year term (term expiration available via Certificant Profile) 
  • Recertification will require 42 contact hours 

For those who took their CRA prior to 2023: 

  • The expiration date of current certificate remains valid, with a 5-year term (term expiration available via Certificant Profile) 
  • Requirements for that 5-year terms apply (80 contact hours) 
  • After 5-year term expires, recertification will be based on a 3-year, 42-hour contact term 

To recertify, one must either apply for recertification or retake the certification exam. 

Recertification Application 

An application for recertification will include: 

  • Information regarding continued participation or employment in the field 
  • A detailed transcript of contact hours and necessary documentation. It is the responsibility of the participant to track contact hours which can include participation in workshops/conferences, delivering presentations, writing articles, etc. The RACC provides information on how to earn contact hours on their website. 
  • $195 application fee; late application fee is $295 


To learn more about the CRA and other certifications offered by RACC, please visit their website.