Sponsored Program Administration (SPA) Fundamentals

A Sponsored Program Administration (SPA) Fundamentals online training course is now available within the online learning management system. This course is an introduction for new administrators in grant and contract management, or those that have less than two years of sponsored program experience. The course provides a general overview of sponsored program components and activities. While an individual's job may only be in one specific area covered in this course, understanding the broad scope of the field of sponsored program administration, and the various offices and services that support it will enhance one's ability to work with colleagues and constituents across the enterprise.

This self-paced, online course has two main learning objectives:

  1. To provide a general understanding of the foundations that guide the profession of research administration including the proposal and award process, award management, and;

  2. To assist in building an understanding of the Research Foundation for SUNY (RF) and the vested interests and responsibilities of the different parties which interact with sponsored programs.

The course is presented in four modules with a comprehensive exam at the end of the full course. General themes discuss the sponsor, the applicant, proposal submission, budget, research ethics and award performance. Activities to reinforce the topics as well as resource documents are provided within or as attachments to the course. The final exam, of approximately 70 questions requires a passing score of 80%. Students may re-take the exam as needed.

Further, four voluntary one-hour WebEx discussion group are typically scheduled each fall each fall to complement the course material. Participants may discuss the topics of each module and ask additional questions with experienced research administrators during these calls.

SPA Fundamentals Discussion Schedule

Module 1
Topics include: The Big Picture, A Day in the Life, The Award Process Begins With, Sponsors, The Applicant

Module 2
Topics include: Proposal Submission Services, Budget, Calculating Salaries, F&A

Module 3
Topics include: Research Compliance, Conflicts of Interest, Responsible Conduct of Research, Export Controls

Module 4
Topics include: Award Negotiation and Acceptance, Award Administration, Effort Reporting & Certification, Financial Closeout Review, Technology Transfer


A course license is assigned to each learner. Each license expires three months after it is assigned. The estimated training time is six hours and is designed so the learner may start and re-start at comfortable intervals for their learning style and schedule. The learner proceeds at their own pace and may retake or review the course and exam in whole or in part as often as they desire within the three month license period.

Who should take the course:
This course is created for individuals with more than six months and less than two years’ work experience in a sponsored program administrative position.

How to obtain a course license:
Please coordinate with your Campus Training Contacts to request a license to access the course. 

Campus Training Contact: completes/approves the SPA Fundamentals License Request Form