Who is Eligible to Submit a Grant Proposal?

Principal Investigator Status Policy and Procedures

Eligibility Policy

A. The right to serve as Principal Investigator (PI) on University sponsored grants or contracts at San Francisco State is automatically granted to: 

  1. Probationary (tenure track) and tenured faculty.
  2. Individuals who have: been offered a probationary (tenure track) or tenured faculty position, signed an acceptance letter, and have a volunteer appointment in an academic college or department. PI status in these cases shall be granted for the purposes of proposal preparation and submission, or the preparation and submission of requests to transfer existing funded programs to SF State.
  3. Faculty with emeritus status who have a volunteer appointment in an academic college or department. This requires that Human Resources (HR) approve both a Request to Appoint a Volunteer form and an E-TRAC. 
  4. Individuals with a Management Personnel Plan (MPP) appointment.

B. Other individuals wishing to serve as a PI on a grant or contract administered by SF State may apply for provisional PI status. The application procedures for such status, and the procedures for continuation, are outlined below. The individual must have the support and recommendation of the relevant department Chair and college Dean. Deans should bear in mind that sponsored programs should be sufficiently important to the achievement of educational, research, or public service goals to justify the allocation of college, ORSP and other University resources.

The Associate Vice President (AVP) for Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) shall review all applications and make recommendations to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (Provost). The Provost shall either accept, request further consultation with the Dean and AVP for ORSP, or reject the application, as outlined below.
Provisional PI status (PI status) shall be for a maximum of two years, and continuation is subject to review procedures, also outlined below.

Procedures for individuals applying for provisional PI status

A. Applicant

  1. The individual requesting PI status must have a current honorific faculty appointment. The application for such appointment shall be in accordance with the appropriate academic department’s policies and procedures. Examples include, but are not limited to: adjunct, in-residence, clinical or distinguished.
  2. Prepare a letter of application (maximum 2 pages) that shall include the following:

    a. Summary of current research or scholarly work. The description should address both specific aims and broader impacts.

    b. Description of how the work relates to the strategic mission of SF State and how it serves faculty and students.

    c. Previous experience with funding applications, and previous funding received, if applicable.

    d. List readiness to apply for external funding, e.g. funding opportunities that have been identified and submission deadlines.

    e. Readiness to administer a sponsored program. This should include professional training and qualifications, experience in managing compliance and financial issues related to sponsored programs, and experience supervising staff and postdoctoral researchers.  Please be aware that nationally, PIs report that 40% of their time is spent on administrative duties.

    f.  Any required resources, including space (office, lab), computing resources, etc.

  3. Review, print and sign the PI Acceptance of ResponsibilityLINK HERE
  4. Prepare a current curriculum vitae (CV).
  5. The applicant shall provide the letter of application, PI Acceptance of Responsibility and current CV to the department Chair.

B. Department Chair

  1. Review application materials.
  2. If the Chair supports the application, and the candidate has a current honorific in the department, the Chair shall forward all materials to the college Dean.

C. College Dean

  1. Review application materials.
  2. If the Dean supports the application, Dean shall prepare a letter of support. The letter of support shall include:

    a. A description of how PI status for the applicant would assist the college in meeting its goals and objectives, as related to the strategic mission of the University.

    b. A description of the resources that the college and other units on campus will provide in support of the applicant.

    c. An acknowledgment that the college will employ the PI, if approved. Dean shall specify the job classification, salary rate and supervisor of the applicant.

  3. The Dean shall forward all applicant materials and letter of support to the AVP for ORSP.


  1. The AVP shall review all materials provided by the applicant and Dean.
  2. The AVP shall make a recommendation to the Provost and should consider the following options:

     a. Approve for a specific sponsored program or for a specific time period (up to 2 years)

     b. Approve subject to specific conditions (e.g. involvement of tenured faculty member with experience in grant and contract administration)

     c. Defer decision with a request for additional information (e.g. if file is incomplete)

     d. Disapprove (with explanation)

E. Provost

  1. Review and consider the Dean's and the AVP's recommendations and either accept, request consultation with the AVP, or reject the application. Prior to formally rejecting a recommendation, the Provost will consult with the Dean to discuss the reasons for considering the rejection and give the Dean the opportunity to provide additional information on behalf of the applicant.
  2. After all discussions have occurred, the Provost will issue a final written response to the AVP.

Procedures for Continuation as a Provisional PI Status

Annual Report

A. Applicant

Continuation as a PI will be based on an annual report from the PI summarizing her/his activities. The report should consist of a short narrative of results and accomplishments and a list of publications, presentations, grant applications submitted and funded. This report should be sent to the Dean.

B. Dean and AVP for ORSP

The AVP and Dean shall review the report and discuss the PIs ability to responsibly manage the programmatic and administrative responsibilities of their sponsored programs. If there are concerns then a formal review (see below) should take place.

Otherwise, a formal review of the PI status should take place every two years, at the same time as the review of honorific faculty status. These reviews are not a substitution for the reviews required for lecturers performed by the department for teaching or other assigned responsibilities.


Formal Review - Biennial

The formal review for continuation of PI status will take place, at a minimum, every two years. Continuation will also depend on the continued appointment in their honorific faculty position.

A. Applicant

  1. Applicant will provide a report to the appropriate Dean summarizing his or her activities as a principal investigator at SF State. This should include a statement of how those activities have supported the University's mission. The report should illustrate competence in managing external funding.
  2. The report should be forwarded to the AVP along with supporting letters from the Dean of the appropriate college.


AVP will make a recommendation to the Provost for continuation or termination of the Provisional PI status

C. Provost

The Provost will issue a final written response to the AVP for ORSP and the Dean.