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eSPEAR Certificate Series Overview

The new eSPEAR Certificate Series has replaced the Sponsored Research Administration Certificate Series and SPEAR (Sponsored Projects Education & Resources) Workshops.  This is an educational certificate program offered by the Office of the Vice President of Research that has been designed to ensure that FSU research administrators have the foundational knowledge they need to provide the highest quality of support possible to FSU researchers.  eSPEAR delivers the fundamental concepts of conducting research administration at FSU and introduces individuals to the resources available to assist them in meeting the responsibilities of their position. 

The program includes:

ESP01-Introduction to Research Administration at FSU

ESP02-Uniform Guidance – 2CFR200

ESP03-Proposal Development and Submission

ESP04-Award Set-Up

ESP05-Building Budgets

ESP06-Internal Controls and Audits

ESP07-Project Management

ESP08-Effort Commitments and Certifications

ESP09-Project Closeouts

ESP10-Issuing and Managing Subawards

eSPEAR Capstone (live half day course)

In order to complete the eSPEAR Certificate Program individuals must complete ten online modules and a half day live Capstone course.  The Capstone final exercise will be a hands on course conducted in a group setting utilizing the knowledge gained from the 10 eSPEAR courses.  Certification will be earned once the Capstone course is completed.

Are you required to complete the eSPEAR Certification Program?

Effective September 1, 2020, all existing staff currently holding positions responsible for the direct administration of research and/or sponsored programs (at the college, department or central level) are required to complete the eSPEAR Certification Program or be approved for an exemption by February 28, 2021.   Any staff who begin a position responsible for the direct administration of research and/or sponsored programs after September 1, 2020, will be required to complete the program within six months of the start date of their position.  No opportunities for exemptions will be offered to staff entering their positions after September 1, 2020. 

Program Registration Process

The Training Center will be responsible for the registration for all new staff.  An email will be sent upon registration with guidance regarding the program and the requirements for completion.

Alternative self-registration process:
Individual or their manager can register in advance of the weekly process detailed above by sending an email request to providing the individual’s name, EMPLID and noting a request for eSpear registration.  Registration normally will occur within 1-2 hours (during normal business hours).  

Capstone Registration:

Capstone registration will be processed through an invitation email sent to those eligible employees who have completed the required 10 eSPEAR modules prior to the scheduled Capstone course.


What are the requirements to obtain an exemption from the obligation to complete eSPEAR?

In order to obtain an exemption from completing eSPEAR Certification Program, an individual will need to demonstrate that they have acquired the foundation of knowledge related to research administration at FSU via past experiences.  Exemptions will only be offered to FSU staff who are active employees prior to September 1, 2020.

The requirements for an exemption can be met in one of three ways:

  1. Prior completion of the SRA Certificate Series
  2. Prior completion of the SRA SPEAR / CREATE Program
  3. Meeting specific test out criteria and scoring a minimum of 75% on an FSU Research Administration Knowledge Exam (requires five years of experience in FSU research administration and supervisor approval).

Requests for exemptions can be submitted after September 1, 2020 by completing the eSPEAR Exemption Request form.

  1. To request an exemption for prior completion of SRA Certificate Series or the CREATE Program, visit SRA’s training page (9/1/20 or later) and complete the eSPEAR Exemption form. Attach any requested information or documentation and submit to SRA via the instructions provided.  Once verified, the individual’s OMNI record will be updated to reflect that they have met the eSPEAR requirement through exemption.
  1. To request an opportunity to test out of the requirement to complete the eSPEAR Certificate Program, visit SRA’s training page (9/1/20 or later) and complete the e SPEAR Test Out Request form. Once eligibility is confirmed, the individual will be provided with access to the test and will have two opportunities to obtain a score of 75% or better.  Once SRA Training is notified of a passing score, the individual’s OMNI record will be updated to reflect that they have met the eSPEAR requirement via the test out process.  **To be eligible to test out, you must have a minimum of five years of experience administering research at FSU and your supervisor must approve the following statement “I approve this request and confirm that this staff member has demonstrated proficiency in research administration at FSU and I do not feel they require the training offered as part of eSPEAR.”


Requests for an extension to the six month requirement to complete the program are possible.  Up to 60 days can be approved by SRA.  Longer requests require OVPR Approval.  These requests can be made by completing the eSPEAR Exemption Form with a justification provided for the request. All requests must be approved by supervisor who must approve/verify the following statement “I understand that this is a request for an extension to completing fundamental requirements of this position and details of this delay should be considered as part of the performance appraisal process.”

If I meet the requirements for an exemption, will I have access to the eSPEAR Certification Program?

All FSU staff and faculty have access to the eSPEAR Certification Program. The program includes the most up to date information regarding administering research at FSU. A broad variety of tools have been added to support FSU research administrators. Both new and existing FSU research administrators will benefit from completing the program. Any staff who are eligible for an exemption have the option to request an exemption or to complete the program. 

Are there any requirements to maintain the eSPEAR Certification?

Yes, there will be a continuing education requirement to maintain certification (for those completing the program and those meeting the requirement via exemption or testing). Research Administration is a constantly evolving field of knowledge and it is important that FSU research administrators remain engaged. In order to support FSU research administrators in their roles, an annual update will be provided (available online). The update will include new information for FSU research administrators and could include changes in federal requirements, FSU research administration systems, or any other topic impacting research administration.

Similar to other professional certifications and due to the rapidly evolving field of research administration, those with eSPEAR certifications will be required to meet continuing education requirements to ensure their level of professional knowledge is adequately maintained. For most active research administrators, this should be an easy requirement and not add additional time to their schedule as activities are in areas where they should already be active.  (While some activities may come with a financial cost, additional financial investment is not required as there are opportunities to meet the requirements without cost.)

In order to maintain an eSPEAR Certification, certified individuals will need to attend an update session AND earn a minimum of 10 points each calendar year beginning with the year following the receipt of their certification.  (ie: If a certification was received in February 20, 2021, this individual will be required to meet the below requirements beginning with calendar year 2022.)

Both of the following requirements must be met:

  1. Attend an annual eSPEAR update.  This will be a 60-minute update on research administration news, regulations, and policies.   (No Spear Points will be issued for this course. All certified individuals are required to attend. Recording will be available for those unable to attend live session.)
  2. Earn a minimum of 10 Spear Points per year. These can be earned as follows:
    • Internally offered opportunities within FSU:
      • Attend Quarterly SRA Meeting: 2 points per meeting attended
      • Complete any supplemental or advanced eSPEAR or OVPR course (online or in-person): 2 points per course completed
      • Webinar or in-person presentation of 90 minutes or longer offered by or sponsored by the Office of Research: 2 points per session attended (RAMP or other system related training excluded)
    • Externally offered opportunities outside organization (NCURA, SRA, COGR, NACUA, UCRF, FDP or agency/sponsor) - Maximum of 6 points (of total 10 points) can be earned via external sources.
      • Workshop or Conference: 4 points per day (2 points per half day)
      • Webinar of 90 minutes or longer: 2 points
    • Other programs focused on research administration that are not covered in one of the categories above can be submitted to SRA with details to request attendance credit.

Extensions: Requests for extensions to meet the above requirements will be approved in rare cases with extenuating circumstances only.  Please forward request to for review if you wish to request an extension. 

If requirements not met:  Not meeting the requirements as detailed above will result in the certification becoming inactive.  Passing the RAMP exam will be required to reactivate certification.


Will any other research administration training be offered (besides the eSPEAR Certification Program)?

Yes, SRA will continue to offer advanced and specialized training courses as they have in the past. Additional online training will also be added to the eSPEAR Program as optional courses.

How can I provide feedback on the eSPEAR Certification Program?

Any questions regarding this new program should be directed to Eileen Campanale at