ACES - ACOR Certification and Education Series

The ACOR Certification & Education Series (ACES) is an education and certification program developed by the Administrative Committee on Research and co-sponsored by the Office for Research Protections. The ACES program is designed to give Research Administrators at every level the necessary skills and expertise to support faculty in research. The program will provide essential tools for every step of the research support process - from proposal development to project management to compliance.

The 2020-2021 ACES course is now closed. The application window for 2021-2022 is open June 1 through June 30.  Accepted applicants will be notified by email in mid-July.

ACES is only open to Penn State employees. The program is limited to 40 participants. There is often a waitlist. Participants are selected primarily based on the need for their current role. 

The ACES course includes sixteen educational modules, two assessments, and two (optional but strongly recommended) roundtable discussion sessions. The sixteen modules will be delivered over two semesters, beginning in the fall and ending in the spring. Each semester will end with an assessment. Individuals who pass both assessments with an 80% or higher will be awarded the Penn State Certified Research Administrator certification. A graduation ceremony will be held at the end of spring semester. 

The course topics provide in-depth knowledge about the award process from pre-award to post-award for grants and contracts. Even if your position is specific to either pre- or post-award, you must complete the entire course: not just the portion most relevant to your position. 

Before applying to ACES, please note the following: 

  • Attendance for all 16 sessions is required. You are only allowed to miss one class per semester. Please check the class schedule prior to enrolling to determine your availablity. If you have other commitments that require you to miss more than one class per semester, please do not sign up for the 2020-21 session.
  • Classes are held on Friday mornings, from 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. in 205LL The 330 Building, Innovation Park. Due to social distancing requirements and University guidelines, ACES may need to be offered remotely for a portion of the year.
  • The cost for 2020-21 is $1000. However, any cost savings as a result of offering ACES remotely will be passed on to the units. Departments/units will be billed in December.


Click the buttons below to view the 2020-2021 class schedule and course descriptions. 

Class Schedule

Class Descriptions


Please contact the ORP ( or  814-865-1775) for more information.