About the Certified Approver Program

The Certified Approver Program is unique to the University of Minnesota and was established to mitigate financial risks in sponsored projects. This program is a resource for current and prospective Certified Approvers (CAs). The program is organized in partnership with the Certified Approver Advisory Committee (CAAC) and the Research Integrity and Compliance (RIC) team.

Certified Approver Roles & Responsibilities

As appointed certified transaction approvers, CAs serve to ensure that financial activity adheres to University and sponsoring agency policies. Certified Approvers follow relevant guidelines to determine whether a given transaction is allowable, allocable, reasonable, and affordable. Each fiscal year Certified Approvers must engage in continuing education events to retain certification status and stay informed about changing policies and procedures.

Roles and responsibilities of a certified approver include:

  • Review financial transactions involving sponsored funds, and approve/deny all journal entries
  • Approve/deny​ transactions ​>$1000 on sponsored projects​, such as ​​​​P-card charges, requisitions, non-PO vouchers, and contracts for professional services
  • Provide information and guidance to principal investigators (PIs) on applicable Board of Regents and administrative policies and procedures related to sponsored project management
  • Provide information and guidance to PIs regarding 2 CFR 200 Uniform Guidance requirements for the use of sponsored project funds
  • Review projects for allowability, allocability, reasonableness, and fund availability

See a full description of UMN Certified Approver Roles and Responsibilities.

How to Become a Certified Approver 

Becoming a Certified Approver (CA) at the University of Minnesota involves the successful completion of a comprehensive course in the key materials a CA should understand to successfully evaluate and approve/deny financial transactions using sponsored project funds. The course includes a final exam to prepare for the CA exam. Once the course is complete, prospective CA's must then register and pass the CA exam. The final step is receiving an approval from your department or unit supervisor through an approval letter that is also shared with RIC.

CA Course

The Certified Approver Course is a self-paced course provided through UMN's Training Hub. It is designed to provide a scaffolding to understanding the guidelines, policies, and procedures that CAs apply in practice.

Potential CAs must pass the CA Exam after completing the CA Canvas course. There is only one exam, replacing what once was two exams.

Register for the Certified Approver Course 

CA Exam

To sit for the CA exam, log into the Training Hub, look for CA 201 Certified Approver Exam, and select the section most appropriate for your schedule. The exam is proctored in Canvas at the scheduled time. You are required to complete a practice test to make sure everything works correctly on your device prior to sitting for the exam in addition to successfully completing the course. After you’ve passed the exam, it is your responsibility to work with your supervisor to have the appropriate letter drawn up and sent to Danielle Rintala, RIC Director, at rinta015@umn.edu, and the RIC account, at ric@umn.edu

Maintaining CA Credentials

Obtaining continuing education credits (CE) is required for a CA to maintain their credentials. The number of credits required each year changed in FY23 and is dependent on the CA's level of experience:

  • Less than five fiscal years of CA experience: 6 continuing education credits
  • More than five fiscal years of CA experience: 4 continuing education credits

If a CA loses their credentials but would like to recertify the lapse, they must redo the CA course and pass the exam. They may also contact RIC (ric@umn.edu) to have their case reviewed.

Obtaining Continuing Education Credits

Opportunities to obtain continuing education credits are regularly communicated to the CA community, can be found here on the Continuing Education page, and include:

  • Continuing education opportunities offered by the CAAC Education subcommittee
  • Serving on the CAAC or one of its subcommittees
  • Attending CA User Groups
  • Completing the CA Canvas Course

CAs are responsible to maintain a personal record of training completion so that they may track their credits and make sure they are completing the annual continuing education requirements. While RIC will monitor them, they do not update training records immediately.