About the Program

The CRA Study team is an online guided self-study program designed for all research administrators regardless of institution that are interested in and qualify to take the certified research administrator 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 at http://cra-cert.org/. 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. 

What are the benefits of the CRA?

  • On-going professional development

  • Reinforces your commitment to lifelong learning

  • Build credibility in research administration

  • Demonstrates expertise

  • Recognition

Who is eligible to sit for the CRA exam?

Candidates applying to set for the Certified Research Administrator’s 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-fund 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-fund organization (this requires completion of a Petition Application (see link below)

If you are planning to Petition to take the examination, please have the Petition application and two reference letters submitted by at least seven (7) days before the application deadline to take the examination.

What is the exam like?

There are two testing periods, one in May and another in November of every year.  In order to take the exam you must submit an application at the CRA website at www.cra-cert.org.  The exam fee is $375 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 for the May testing period and in September for the November testing period. 

You will be required to take the exam through the Professional Testing Corporation at an approved exam site with the closest exam site located in Roanoke, VA.  The exam consists of 250 computerized multiple choice questions with the below categories and allocations:

  • Project Development and Administration 30%

  • Legal Requirements and Sponsor Interface 30%

  • Financial Management 25%

  • General Management 15%

What are the recertification requirements?

To maintain your CRA designation you will be required to recertify every 5 years. You will need to complete a recertification application which describes your activities over the last 5 years in research administration.  You will be responsible for tracking your contact hours which can include participation in workshops/conferences, presentation given, writing articles, etc.  The number of contact hours of education needed for recertification is 80.  You will also be required to submit 3 exam questions for possible use in future exams.  The recertification fee is $200.

What resources are available?

  • CRA website-Body of Knowledge

  • CRA mentors available upon request

  • RACC CRA Review Session (http://cra-cert.org/examschedule.html)
              Registration fee for sessions in 2015 - $205.00
              Registration fee for sessions in 2016 - $225.00

  • Practice Test through the Professional Testing Corporation, cost $50 (75 questions)

  • Research Administration Listserv (http://www.hrinet.org/)

  • VT Research Administrator Certificate Program Level I & Level II (http://www.research.vt.edu/professional-development/programs)

  • CRA Study Team Scholar Site-access will be given upon enrollment into the program

How do I get involved with the CRA Study Team?

If you plan to sit for the exam, you are eligible to participate in the CRA Study Team.  Please contact Vicky Ratcliffe at vratcliffe@vt.edu or Quinn Steen at qsteen@vt.edu.  There is no cost for participating in the sessions.

The study sessions will last approximately two hours each session. 

Please note that attending these sessions alone will not guarantee that you will pass the exam.  Individuals are expected to spend additional time outside of the sessions studying for the exam. 

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

What is expected of each team member?

Prior to submitting an application, you should discuss the program benefits and requirements with your supervisor and seek approval for participation. 

Each participant will be expected to attend and participate in the study sessions.  


The CRA Study Team schedule is posted several weeks before the start of each cohort. The Team accepts new members at any time and sessions will be repeated each fall semester.

This will be a group effort.  As a team member, you will be expected to contribute and participate at each session.   


All sessions are live online. All Sessions are recorded and posted for participants to view at a later time.