Academy of Certified Research Administrators

Earn Your CRA-USF Credentials Online


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Earn Your CRA-USF Credentials Online
Types of Credentials
Member Database
Authorized Use of the CRA-USF Credential
About the CRA-USF/Basic Course
About the CRA-USF/Advanced Course


The University of South Florida offers a certification program for employees who serve as research administrators. The designation, Certified Research Administrator-USF (CRA-USF), identifies the certification with USF and is aligned with recognized academic and professional credentialing.

The CRA-USF stands apart from other research administration certifications in that the curriculum is USF-centric, focusing on the business systems, processes, best practices, tool, resources and forms endorsed and used by the University of South Florida.

Being an effective research administrator requires not only extensive knowledge and understanding, but also many skills and abilities that can only be learned and developed through practice and hands-on application in real-world settings. These courses lay the foundation for participants to further develop their knowledge base and improve job skills and competencies outside the online course environment.

NOTE: CRA-USF courses are not intended to supplant departmental training for new and seasoned employees. Employees and their supervisors are encouraged to consider these courses as one component of the employee’s overall professional development and training. Subsequent to completing these courses, we strongly encourage employees obtain additional and ongoing practice, mentoring, coaching, feedback and supervision by their supervisors or other subject matter experts, in order to acquire desired proficiencies and job related competencies.


Two credentials may be earned by USF employees, CRA-USF/Basic and CRA-USF/Advanced, by successfully completing the applicable online courses. Employees who earn a credential become members of the Academy of Certified Research Administrators at USF.


Certification standardization is essential to upholding the integrity of the CRA-USF credentialing program and serves to support the credibility of those who hold the credential within our university. Recertification helps to ensure members of the Academy of Certified Research Administrators maintain their credential with a current syllabus.

Each credential requires recertification every two years. 

  • CRA-USF/Basic Recertification Quiz Module
  • CRA-USF/Advanced Recertification Course


Employees who earn a credential become members of the Academy of Certified Research Administrators at USF. Members are included in the Academy’s online database that lists active USF employees who have earned one or more CRA-USF credentials. You may search members by College/Department, Last Name, or Certificate Type. The database also includes certificate dates.


USF employees who have earned a CRA-USF credential may download a copy of their signed certificate(s) from the Academy of Certified Research Administrators Member Database. Each credential has its own certificate. Documentation of course completion is also reflected in the employee’s GEMS training record.


All active USF employees who hold a current credential are authorized to use the credential and are expected to properly cite their credential in their signature block.

In order to maintain your credential, you must recertify every two years. If your certification has already expired, be sure to enroll in a recertification course: CRA-USF Basic Recertification or CRA-USF Advanced Recertification.

Along with earning a credential, comes an obligation to uphold the integrity of the CRA-USF designation which supports the credibility of those who hold this honor. Both the credential and the Academy have come to connote competency and integrity resulting from consistent adherence to Federal/State regulations, sponsor guidelines, USF policies, procedures, and standards of acceptable business practices.

Authorization to use the credential is at the discretion of Sponsored Research. Employees who do not recertify within a reasonable time frame, after expiration, may have their credential temporarily revoked until they are recertified.


Both online courses are FREE to USF employees who complete the course(s) within the designated time frame. Those who enroll but do not complete a course, a $50.00 fee is charged to the employee's department.

Enrollment is now available for the following courses:

Announcements on course offerings are sent periodically to the USF Research Administrators listserv. If you are not currently on the listserv and wish to be added, please send an email request to


Courses are offered to active USF employees (full or part-time). You must have access to MyUSF portal and have an active USF email address. Supervisory approval to enroll is not required by our office. You may refer to your department's guidelines should you have questions. To determine which course(s) is right for you, please refer to the course descriptions.


Enrollment is now open year-round.

The CRA-USF/Basic credential is earned by successfully completing the online course in Canvas, with a score of 100%. The course covers general knowledge and information on the life-cycle of research administration, from pre-award through post-award, focusing on the basic essentials to get employees started on the right path for conducting research administration at USF.

This online course is self-guided, allowing employees to complete the course at their own pace, within a designated time frame; upon enrollment, participants have access to the course for a maximum of 4 calendar weeks and may complete it at any time during this period.

After completing this course, employees are encouraged to enroll in the CRA-USF/Advanced online course which provides hands-on practice opportunities to develop and enhance skills.

CRA-USF/Basic Course Content

I. Introductory Section

  • Introduction to Research Administration at USF
  • Uniform Guidance
  • Export Controls
  • Conflict of Interest in Research
  • Facilities and Administrative
  • Reports and Queries

II. Research Administration Life-Cycle

  • Finding Funding
  • Preparing Project Budgets
  • Internal Form
  • Award Setup
  • Award Monitoring, Reconciliation and Reporting
  • Effort Reporting Compliance
  • Pay Distribution for Research Administration
  • Cost Sharing
  • Participant Payments
  • Underwrites
  • Cost Transfers
  • Subrecipient Monitoring
  • Managing Fixed Assets on Sponsored Awards
  • Internal Controls and Audits
  • Award Closeout and Record Retention


The CRA-USF/Advanced credential is earned by successfully completing the online course that provides employees with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with approved forms, tools and best practices in pre- and post-award research administration at USF.

The course is self-paced with no weekly assignment deadlines and may be completed any time within a 4 week period. The course uses self-grading, allowing participants to determine their own learning accomplishments through self-evaluation.

Prerequisite: Prior to enrollment, employees must hold a current CRA-USF/Basic credential.

CRA-USF/Advanced Course Content

  • Academic Analytics
  • Funding Opportunity Announcements
  • Budget Preparation Tool
  • NIH Salary Cap Worksheet
  • Budget Justifications
  • Subrecipient Forms
  • Internal Form
  • Underwrite Form
  • FAST Workflow Request
  • Grant Budget Release Form
  • CAS Exception Request Form
  • Subaccount Establishment/Project Transfer Form
  • Award Reconciliation Tool
  • Retroactive Expenditure Transfer Form
  • Expenditure Transfer Form
  • Budget Transfer Form

A final examination helps reinforce best practices and tips and tricks to avoid common pitfalls. Included in the final examination is a participant-focused, skill-development plan that the employee may opt to use as a resource to further enhance job-related competencies, after having completed the course.