Federal Grant Proposal Development for STEM Research Administrators

Recognizing the limited pool of professionals with the specialized training needed to enter advanced positions in the growing field of research administration, Penn State’s Office for Sponsored Programs and Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Office have designed an entry-level course that will provide basic training in proposal development and research administration for individuals who are not already employed in this field at Penn State and, thus, not eligible for Penn State’s ACOR Certification and Education Series (ACES).

With the support of the Program in Workforce Education in the College of Education, this course is now open in LionPath (Class 29702) for Fall 2017 enrollment. Details on the course number and meeting times are provided below. Interested individuals should feel free to contact Lorraine Mulfinger (lxm14@psu.edu) or John Hanold (jhh6@psu.edu) with questions about the course content.

Actively-enrolled Penn State graduate and undergraduate students should consult their advisors for enrollment advice and assistance if needed. Non-degree students (potential registrants who are not currently enrolled at PSU) should consult these websites for information on how to enroll as either a non-degree undergraduate or graduate student.



Interest in this course will be used to gauge the market for future course offerings to supporting career development in the field of research administration. Please direct any suggestions to Lorraine and John.

WFED 497 - 001: Federal Grant Proposal Development for STEM Research Administrators

Fall 2017; Class time: M 6-9 PM; 313 Keller Building; Course ID: 043815

Instructors: Lorraine Mulfinger, PhD; John Hanold, PhD; Debra Poveromo, BA

Course Description: This course is intended to provide students with 1) the basic skills and applied knowledge that are essential for developing, assembling and submitting federal research grant applications in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and 2) familiarity with the commonly used electronic research administration (ERA) submission systems. Content will be presented from the perspective of grants administration within college and university systems with the intent that acquired skills and knowledge will be broadly applicable to most academic research settings. A team of special topics experts from University administration will support the core instructors throughout the semester.

Prerequisites: Strong writing and algebra skills are essential. ENGL 015 (Rhetoric and Composition) and MATH 021 (College Algebra I) or equivalent skills (minimum: satisfactory performance on English proficiency and mathematics placement examinations) are recommended. Students who are unsure if they have adequate prior knowledge or skills are urged to discuss their background with the instructors prior to enrollment.

Course Format: Course content will be delivered in a single weekly three-hour session using a combination of lecture and in-class exploratory learning activities. One-hour group help sessions will be offered weekly upon demand. Students will be expected to access Canvas regularly for downloading reference materials, uploading assignments and monitoring grades.

Resources: All course reference materials are accessible without charge through granting agency and University websites. These materials will include electronic proposal guides from agencies such as the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health and Penn State University policies and guides.


·         Develop familiarity with institutional policies and federal regulations applicable to research administration.

·         Know the subsections and content common to grant proposals to include: Abstract, Project Description, Biographical Sketches, Facilities, Equipment, Data Management Plan, Budget, and Budget Description.

·         Develop the writing skills necessary to produce drafts and edits to non-technical proposal elements such as facilities descriptions and budget justifications.

·         Acquire the advance WORD and graphics editing skills necessary to ensure that proposal elements conform to agency formatting requirements for page limits, margins and fonts.

·         Acquire EXCEL skills to build both simple and complex task-based budgets that includes standard expenditure categories and rates.

·         Produce a detailed budget justification to support a typical small grant application.

·         Use sample documents to create a fully-loaded grants.gov application packet.