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aiM Higher - CRA Study Group

aiM Higher Spring 2024

Registration for the Spring 2024 is closed.

Date: Every Friday from March 1 - May 10, 2024
Time: 11:30 am - 1:00 pm EST
Location: The study group meetings will be held via Zoom
Duration: 11 weeks prior to CRA Exam

See the list of current U-M Certified Research Administrators (CRAs)


"I found the Body of Knowledge applicable to nearly all aspects of my job and the group discussions extremely valuable for increasing my understanding of the material. I plan to encourage others to pursue CRA certification, including participation in the CRA study review."

"aiM Higher provides a variety of resources so each person can customize their preparation for the CRA exam."

"It was a true benefit to be able to have other colleagues from across the University within the group. We all have our own set of experiences that really adds to the weekly discussion. Real life examples help to enhance the Body of Knowledge."

"I love being more knowledgeable about my job and this has helped me explain federal policies to PIs in my regular work.  I love having renewed respect for my profession. I love having a goal."

"Coming from another Institution that does not have a study group, I am very grateful to have it here at U-M. The designated study sessions make the Body of Knowledge easier to tackle."

The aiM Higher CRA Preparation Program is led by a group (external to ORSP) of U-M research administrators who help colleagues prepare for the Certified Research Administrator (CRA) exam.

aiM Higher

What is aiM Higher?

aiM Higher is a study group to help colleagues prepare for the Certified Research Administrator (CRA) exam conducted by the external organization, the Research Administration Certification Council (RACC).

aiM Higher is led by a group of research administrators from the University of Michigan. Sue Kelch, a now-retired U-M administrator, founded it in 2016, and since 2022, it has been led by Corinna Burghardt, Stephanie Blackmore, and Melissa Li.

While aiM Higher is not affiliated with ORSP, Sponsored Programs, Navigate, or the Research Administration Advisory Council (RAAC), many research administrators in our offices and networks have benefited from it. 

Target Audience

It is recommended for research administrators preparing for the CRA exam. With its virtual format since 2021, aiM Higher participants now come from across the United States. The benefits of certification:

  • validates expertise
  • generates professional recognition
  • provides personal satisfaction
  • indicates expertise and knowledge
  • may increase credibility with faculty and other administrators
  • may lead to increased employment opportunities
  • can be a role model to other RAs

What is the CRA exam?

The certified research administrator (CRA) exam is offered by an independent certifying body, the Research Administrators Certification Council (RACC). The CRA exam is rigorous, and it must be taken at a designated site, and it is administered through Professional Testing Corporation. In a 3.5-hour period, test-takers must answer 200 questions that cover the full spectrum of research administration. The curriculum covered by the exam is referred to as the "Body of Knowledge." Acquiring the CRA credential demonstrates a level of knowledge of all aspects of research administration. 

aiM Higher Facilitates CRA Exam Study Prep

Photo by Sue Kelch

CRA Group 2018

he aiM Higher study group is held in the spring and fall for 10 weeks prior to the CRA exam. The program is both an independent and guided study. 


The aiM Higher Study Group is to prepare Research Administrators for the CRA exam that is offered by an independent certifying body, Research Administrators Certification Council (RACC). 

Schedule and Requirements

CRA exams are offered at multiple locations. You may take the exam anytime within the testing window. The fee for the CRA exam is $395, which must be paid by the participant. The CRA Spring 2024 exam is scheduled for May 11 - 25, 2024, and the exam application deadline is April 10, 2024, by 11:59 p.m. EST. For more information on the exam, visit the CRA website

Spring 2024 CRA Schedule

How to register for the aiM Higher study group

Attendees for the aiM Higher study group will need to submit a Registration Form. The study group is held for approximately 8 weeks prior to the CRA exam. The study group is both an independent and guided study.  


Research administrators must have:

  • Bachelor's Degree and three (3) years of professional experience in research or sponsored programs.
  • Associate's Degree and five (5) years of professional experience in research or sponsored programs.
  • No degree and six (6) years of professional experience in research or sponsored programs.*

*Please contact if you seek letters of attestation that are required.

  • Registration is required.
  • All sessions will be held via Zoom meeting.
Supervisor Requirements
  • Ensure the applicant will be permitted time to attend a guided study group every Friday during the aiM Higher program prior to the CRA exam from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. EST.
  • Approve the applicant's participation in aiM Higher via email. This email will be attached to the application form by the applicant.

Selected Participant Requirements

  • Attend the moderated study sessions. Study sessions are scheduled weekly as one-and-a-half-hour sessions.
  • View weekly webinars offered by Virginia Tech. Subject matters are 2 hours long, are recorded, and may be watched live or at your availability.
  • It is highly recommended to study several hours a week outside of the webinars and study sessions.

CRA Exam Study Offerings

The aiM Higher study group is both an independent and guided program that includes:

  • Weekly webinars (online - partnered with VA Tech experts)
  • Weekly online moderated study sessions with:
    • Guided materials to prepare you for the exam
    • Practice exams
    • Support from other RAs
  • Daily emails (tips, study materials, encouragement)
  • Quizlet group (online flashcards and testing)

What's Expected?

The CRA exam is rigorous. These study sessions do not guarantee that participants will pass the exam, as the volume of material is too significant to cover in them. It is highly recommended that participants prepare for the exam by studying outside of the study sessions.

Preparation Fee

  • There is no cost to participate in the aiM Higher CRA study group.


References and Resources


For questions on other training initiatives, please contact or their leads: Corrina Burghardt, Melissa Li, and Stephanie Blackmore.