Principal Investigator Eligibility

Title: Principal Investigator Eligibility
Policy Owner: Office of the Vice President for Research, Sponsored Program Services
Applies to: Applies to all faculty, staff, students and others participating in sponsored program activities
Campus Applicability: All campuses except for UConn Health
Effective Date: June 22, 2015
For More Information, Contact Offices of the Vice President for Research and Sponsored Program Services
Contact Information: (860) 486-3622
Official Website:



This Policy is intended to set forth the eligibility requirements for serving as a Principal Investigator (PI) at UConn.  This Policy also describes the processes for requesting and approving exceptions to the PI eligibility requirements.


Principal Investigator (PI): This title identifies the individual responsible for the conduct of the sponsored program project. This responsibility includes the intellectual conduct of the project, fiscal accountability, administrative aspects, and the project’s adherence to relevant policies and regulations.  A project may have multiple individuals as PIs who share the authority and responsibility for leading and directing the project, intellectually and logistically.  Each PI is responsible and accountable for the proper conduct of the project.

Co-Principal Investigator: This designation refers to individuals who share the responsibility for the project with the Principal Investigator and therefore requires the same qualifications.

Project Director: Although not as commonly used by sponsors, this title is a synonym for Principal Investigator.


All externally funded projects conducted at the University of Connecticut are expected to be consistent with the teaching, research, and service missions of the University.  All projects are therefore carried out within departments, centers or institutes, or other administrative units under the direction of a faculty member or comparable professional employee.

By limiting Principal Investigator/Project Director status to a limited set of designated individuals and/or job categories, and by procuring appropriate dean and department head approval, the University is assured that the proposed research is consistent with its missions and that the necessary space, equipment, facilities and qualified personnel are available to conduct the proposed project.  In all cases, the individual designated as Principal Investigator/Project Director is judged to be qualified to conduct an independent research or other educational project.

Faculty members automatically eligible to serve as Principal Investigators/Project Directors include members of the emeritus faculty and those faculty members who hold the following titles:

University Professor
Associate Professor
Assistant Professor
Research Professor
Associate Research Professor
Assistant Research Professor
Associate Professor-in-Residence
Assistant Professor-in-Residence
Research Scientist
Research Scholar
Extension Educator

Professional staff normally eligible to serve as Principal Investigator:

Professional staff members normally eligible to serve as Principal Investigators/Project Directors include staff who hold titles typically associated with independent activity, whose appointment is subject to a rigorous review of credentials, and who have supervisor approval (i.e., signature on the proposal routing sheet), such as:

Associate Dean
Assistant Dean
Associate Director
Assistant Director
Extension Professor
Associate Extension Professor
Assistant Extension Professor
Program Director

Categories of employment normally considered ineligible to serve as Principal Investigator/Project Director:

Assistant Instructor
Post-doctoral appointees
Research associates
Assistants and fellows
And visiting and other short-term appointees


In special cases, exceptions may be made. These special cases require the Request for Approval to Serve as Principal Investigator form be completed by the PI Applicant, signed by the PI Applicant, Faculty Sponsor, Department Head and/or Dean and submitted to SPS for review prior to proposal submission.  In the case of a denial by OVPR SPS, appeals may be directed to the Associate Vice President for Research, Sponsored Program Services.


Please see OVPR SPS form: Request for Approval to Serve as Principal Investigator.


Violations of this policy may result in appropriate disciplinary measures in accordance with University Laws and By-Laws, General Rules of Conduct for All University Employees, applicable collective bargaining agreements, and the University of Connecticut Student Code.


Policy created:           6/5/2009

Revised:                    6/22/2015 (approved by the Vice President for Research)