Professional Development Opportunities in Research Administration

Research Administrators at Penn State can choose from a broad array of professional development opportunities:

 Internal Professional Development Opportunities at Penn State

Administrative Committee on Research (ACOR) is the principal vehicle for distributing information and training opportunities to research administrators at Penn State.

  • Professional Development Opportunities and Previous Professional Development Recordings/Documents
  • Full ACOR meetings are held three times per year. All research administrators at Penn State are encouraged to attend in person or to participate online. (See here for the full meeting schedule.)
  • ACOR holds an Annual Retreat each year, which is an excellent opportunity for research administrators to learn more about areas of special interest to them.
  • The ACOR Fellows Program provides a small number of individuals each fall with an opportunity to visit various administrative offices throughout Penn State in order to exchange best practices and identify potential process improvements. The latest Executive Summary can be found here.  Please contact for more information.
  • Contact Danna Smith to sign up for the ACOR listserv.

The ACOR Certification and Education Series (ACES) is a one-year course offering an in depth overview of proposal preparation, budget building, contract negotiation, compliance, and financial management.

A series of training videos on the Uniform Guidance (i.e., the regulations governing Federal grants and cost principles governing Federal grants and contracts) can be found here.

The Office of the Corporate Controller provides a number of training tools for Penn State's financial officers and post-award research administrators.

 The Office for Research Protections offers training opportunities for staff and faculty working with animal subjects, human participants, and hazardous materials.

 External Professional Development Opportunities

Research Administrators can demonstrate their breadth of knowledge and experience by taking the Certified Research Administrator (CRA) exam. This credential can be maintained by participating in ongoing professional development activities.  More information can be found in the slides "Value of Research Administrator Certification:  What it Can Mean to You."

National Contract Management Association (NCMA) provides training opportunities for contract management (as opposed to grant management). Many of our units focused primarily on defense contracting have found NCMA to be a particularly useful resource.

National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) is one of the leading professional development organizations for research administrators in the U.S. NCURA's educational programs include an Annual Meeting, a Financial Research Administration Conference, a Pre-Award Research Administration Conference, and various other educational offerings, including traveling workshops and online resources.  For more information on these opportunities, please see the NCURA home page. Penn State also participates in NCURA's Region II, which hosts conferences in the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Additional Resources - Penn State is a member of the following professional organizations. These organizations work to disseminate information regarding current developments in research administration.

The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM)  provides training opportunities and guidance documents for technology transfer professionals.

The Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) is an association of research universities based in Washington, D.C., interfacing with federal agencies on behalf of the research community and engaging in detailed analysis of policy and regulatory developments. Much of their analysis and recommendations can be found on the COGR website.

The Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) consists of a large number of research universities and federal agencies. The mission of FDP is to foster a dialogue about how to streamline interactions between universities and the federal government.

The University Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP) brings together representatives from universities and industries to discuss ways of improving and increasing interactions. For example, UIDP has been working to develop standard templates for industry-university research agreements.