University of Chicago CRA Study Group

About the CRA Study Group

The CRA Study Group is a self-study program facilitated by group meetings and designed for all University of Chicago 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 (

Benefits and Details of the CRA

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.

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

Eligibility to Sit for the CRA Exam

Candidates applying to sit for the CRA examination must meet one 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; OR
  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; OR
  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.

Exam Format

Exam Composition and Length

Beginning in fall 2023, exams will be comprised of 200 multiple-choice test questions, 175 of which will count toward a candidate’s score, and 25 pretest (pilot) questions which will not count toward a candidate’s score. The 25 pretest (pilot) questions are randomly distributed through the examination and will not be identifiable as a pretest (pilot) question. Candidates will be given three-and-one-half (3.5) hours to complete the exam.

Questions are within the below categories and allocations:

  • I. Collection and Dissemination of Information 44%
  • II. Legal Requirements and Sponsor Interface 20%
  • III. Financial Management 21%
  • IV. General Management 15%
Exam Scoring

Also, beginning in fall 2023, RACC will report exam scores using scaled scoring. To ensure fairness and consistency across exam forms, once RACC establishes a passing standard, this standard is upheld for all future forms of the exam. A statistical process called equating is used to account for any slight variations in difficulty level across forms. Candidate scores are then reported using scaled scoring, which converts the candidate’s raw score (i.e., total number of correct questions) onto a consistent and standardized scale. Scaled scores allow candidate scores to be comparable from one exam form to the next.

The scale range for all RACC exams will be 200 to 800 with a passing point of 500.

University of Chicago CRA Study Group

If eligible to sit for the CRA Exam, you are eligible to participate in the CRA study group. If already certified and would like to attend as a mentor to support your colleagues, please contact Your experience and expertise are valued, and participation is eligible toward your own recertification.

Please use this link to register for the Fall Session.

Study Group Format

Weekly one-hour study group sessions will meet via Zoom invitation. Prior to committing to attend, discuss the program benefits and requirements with your supervisor and seek approval for participation if necessary.

  • Group Study Resources provided include:
    • Handouts
    • Presentation materials
    • Weekly peer-led discussion/review per 8-week schedule
  • Sessions are designed for participants to review weekly materials/presentations and prepare questions for discussion at each session. The course topics are taken from the RACC Body of Knowledge.
  • The study group is a group effort and it is the expectation that participants will prepare to discuss the weekly study material. 
  • The volume of material that could be on the exam is too great to cover exhaustively. By participating in the study group, you will study subject areas with which you are less familiar and may require additional focus on your own time.

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.

Participant Expectations

CRA Study Group Schedule and Materials
September 13, 2023 - November 1, 2023
Wednesdays, 4 p.m. via Zoom invitation
Session 1: Introduction and explanation of purpose, goals; Q&A

Assignment for Session 2– review VT materials for weeks 1-2 Overview, Fundamentals, Federal Contracting

Session 2: Discussion of assigned materials for weeks 1-2, Q&A

Assignment for Session 3 – review VT materials for Week 3 Human Subjects and Financial Administration

Session 3: Discussion of assigned materials for Week 3, Q&A

Assignment – review VT materials Week 4 Uniform Guidance

Session 4: Discussion of materials for Week 4, Q&A

Assignment – review VT materials Week 5-6 Animal Welfare and Funding Agencies

Session 5: Discussion of materials for Week 5-6, Q&A

Assignment – review VT materials Week 7 Conflict of Interest and Export Controls

Session 6: Discussion of materials for Week 7, Q&A

Assignment – review VT materials Week 8 Intellectual Property and Clinical Trials

Session 7: Discussion of materials for Week 8, Q&A

Assignment – review VT materials Week 9-10 Biohazards in Research and Final Review

Session 8: Final discussion of materials for Week 9-10, Q&A

UChicago CRA Study Group Materials

For detailed session information, links to materials, and more, please see the CRA Study Group Materials in Box.

Exam Registration, Testing Process, and Resources

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 $395.00 (paid either by the participant or participant’s department).

Upon completion of the application and payment, participants will receive mailed correspondence indicating their application’s acceptance and instructions for scheduling the exam.

CRA Exam Preparation Resources

RACC Handbook

2023 Candidate Handbook

Testing Periods

Nov. 4 - 18, 2023

May 11 - 25, 2024

Nov. 2 - 16, 2024

Application Deadlines

October 4, 2023 (November window)

April 10, 2024 (May window)

October 2, 2024 (November window)

Exam Fee**


Online Practice Exam & Fee

75 Questions/ $60

FAQs for Online Practice Exam

Exam Administration

Professional Testing Corporation

Approved exam site

**Interested participants should discuss with their supervisors whether this cost can be covered by their department

Recertification Term & 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