Research Administration Program

The profession of research administration requires individuals to possess vast knowledge and a diverse set of skills in order to appropriately administer institutional grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements. Masters degrees in research administration are available from Johns Hopkins University, University of Central Florida, and Rush University.  Additionally, the Research Administrators Certification Council offers three nationally-recognized certifications: Certified Research Administrator (CRA), Certified Pre-Award Research Administrator (CPRA), and Certified Financial Research Administrator (CFRA).  

This certificate program involves approximately 39 hours (24 hours self-directed via Moodle and 15 in group presentation/discussion).  Participants will learn about the roles and responsibilities of the principal investigator (PI), unit authority, departmental research administrator (DRA), central office of sponsored programs (ORSP), and institutional signature authority. Additionally, information will cover policies, procedures, and practices associated with the lifecycle of sponsored programs, from proposal development and budgeting to award negotiation and acceptance to award monitoring and compliance requirements, including close-out and audit.  

While participation in this program of education does not guarantee a promotion or a wage increase, the training may be useful for those interested in advancing into higher-level research administrator positions. UM Human Resource Services encourages supervisors to support their employees in participating in professional development opportunites during normal work hours, especially those opportunities that specifically relate to their job responsibilities.  As a result, consult your supervisor accordingly.  

The 2018 Cohort will begin in January.  

Core Components

I. ORSP Overview

This opening session will provide an opportunity for students to meet each other.  Delivered in a classroom setting, this approximately 3 hour overview will be split into two 90-minute sessions.

II. UM-Specific Training for PIs and DRAs

Designed for principal investigators (PIs) seeking sponsored funding, these Moodle modules provide an institutional overview and take approximately 2 hours to complete.

Participants will identify a UM peer mentor with whom they'll meet regularly throughout the program. 

III. Lifecycle of the Award Series

This series was produced in 2016 by the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA), a global association of over 8,000 members worldwide. The 13 webinars (21 total hours) are delivered via Moodle and feature university research administration experts from across the country and cover the lifecycle of sponsored award administration.  As described in part IV below, a face-to-face meeting is scheduled after each of the lifecycle topics so that participants can ask questions and engage in UM-centric discussion.  

The Toolbox for Research Administrators (1 hr 26 min)

The Life Cycle of the Award Series kicks off with The Toolbox for Research Administrators, featuring a lively discussion of the essential policies, procedures, rules and regulations that every institution should maintain for compliant management. It will also provide helpful forms, checklists, and other related work-friendly tools that support the daily activities of the grant management professional. Gleaned from examples provided by NCURA members, as well as related NCURA publications, these resources will be valuable assets in ensuring a comprehensive portfolio of research administration essentials. The video webinar will also feature a discussion of what policies and other resources might be necessary to implement the new federal Uniform Guidance.

Proposal Development: Part 1 (1 hr 26 min), Part 2 (1 hr 28 min), Part 3 (1 hr 28 min)

The Proposal Development video webinar is a three-part series that covers the essentials of proposal development from inception through submission. Part I begins with proposal planning and review of the project and the application requirements. Part II continues with a session on the budget and justification and is completed with a session on preparation and submission. Part III will include discussion of proposal planning, logistics, financial and compliance considerations. There will be full series dedicated to budgeting later in the Life Cycle series.The panel will provide guidance for the proposal lifecycle. While some of the material will be basic and introductory, there will be additional details that will benefit experienced learners and will provide ample opportunities for discussion and training at institutions.

PreAward and Budgeting: Part 1 (1 hr 28 min), Part 2 (1 hr 28 min), Part 3 (1 hr 28 min)

Are you ready to start building your sponsored project or idea, but don't know what and how much to ask for? If preparing a budget for your grant or contract is daunting for you, come learn the basic elements of how to draft a project budget with confidence. An effective budget can be a productive tool in driving towards your goals for the entire life of the project. We also need to ensure that we have the funds needed to complete the project successfully and do not to leave resources on the table. This two part session will walk through the development of a project budget including: what costs need to be covered, categorization of budget costs by differing sponsors, utilizing the appropriate rates as required and more.

Award Negotiation and Acceptance: Part 1 (1 hr 30 min), Part 2 (1 hr 30 min), Part 3 (1 hr 31 min)

The Award Negotiation and Acceptance webinar is a three-part series that focuses on negotiating with a sponsor, identifying problematic contract terms and conditions, and navigating solutions that will satisfy both your sponsor and your institution.

Part I begins with an overarching discussion of general negotiation and contracting principles and also addresses issues of institutional culture and other concerns that may influence how you approach a contract negotiation.  Part II continues with a session on the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FARs), specifically addressing how the FARs operate, FAR clauses that require special attention, and when FAR clauses may have alternatives that are more acceptable to universities. Part III focuses on contracting with private sector and international sponsors. Building on Parts I and II, topics will include the major differences between Federal contracts and industry or international contracts, especially thorny terms and conditions, and the unique considerations that come into play if you work at a public university, a private university, or a non-profit organization.

Award Monitoring and Management: Part 1 (1 hr 58 min), Part 2 (1 hr 58 min)

The fifth offering in the Life Cycle of the Award Series is in two parts. The webinars focus on award management strategies and techniques for both the central and departmental research administrator tasked with financial oversight of sponsored awards. This workshop will focus on what to look for during award initiation and award close out, as well as discuss strategies for how the research administrator can best support the PI during the period of performance to maximize award spending, while effectively managing risk. Furthermore, this online workshop will review some perennial hot topics such as cost transfers, subaward monitoring, cost sharing and effective and efficient award close outs.

Compliance: Part 1 (1 hr 59 min), Part 2 (1 hr 50 min)

The final offering of the Life Cycle of the Award Series is in two parts. The webinars feature discussion of a variety of compliance topics essential to the knowledge of every research administrator. This three-hour workshop will cover the basics of institutional committee review for biosafety, human research participants, and animal research, as well as export compliance, conflict of interest, and research misconduct. True-life examples will highlight the importance of knowing where to find expertise and resources at your institution and beyond, creating a compliance network."

IV. Facilitated Discussion

Ten sessions (90 minutes) will provide an opportunity for participants to engage in robust discussion about research administration topics as applicable to the University of Montana. These sessions will be facilitated by Judy Fredenberg, Assistant Vice President for Research, and other ORSP members.

Tentative Schedule

The outline below is for illustrative purposes only; the finalized schedule will be posted for participants within Moodle:  

  • January 10 > ORSP Overview, Part I (90 minutes)
  • January 17 > ORSP Overview Part II (90 minutes) 
    • January 18-Feb 6 > Participants complete PI Training Moodle modules (approx 2 hours)
  • February 7 > 90 minute discussion: UM policies, training, website
    • February 8-March 13 > Participants complete Research Administrator's Toolbox webinar (1.5 hours) in Moodle
  • March 14 > 90 minute discussion: UM Toolbox
    • March 15-April 17 > Participants complete Proposal Development webinar (4.5 hours) in Moodle
  • April 18 > 90 minute discussion: UM proposal development
    • April 19-May 15 > Participants complete PreAward and Budgeting webinar (3 hours) in Moodle
  • May 16 > 90 minute discussion: UM pre-Award and budgeting
    • May 16-June 19 > Participants complete Award Negotiation and Acceptance webinar (4.5 hours) in Moodle
  • June 20 > 90 minute discussion: UM award negotiation and acceptance
    • June 21-Sept. 11 > Participants complete Award Monitoring and Management webinar (4 hours) in Moodle (summer break)
  • Sept. 12 > 90 minute discussion: UM award monitoring & management
    • Sept. 13-Oct. 16 > Participants complete Compliance webinar (4 hours) in Moodle
  • Oct. 17 > 90 minute discussion: UM compliance
  • November 7 > 90 minute discussion:  Wrap-up - Participants complete program
Certificates issued mid-November to participants with 80% attendance in the discussion sessions.

Additional Resources

Banner Grants Query Class

Banner Grants Query is highly recommended for individuals with grant award management responsibilities.  

Website Information

The ORSP website contains a wealth of additional information, such as:

The NCURA YouTube Channel is searchable by topic under "Playlists" or presenter using the search feature: