Procedure for requesting eligibility to serve as principal investigator

Members of the Duke regular rank faculty* in good standing with the University are eligible to serve as PI/PD as a matter of privilege on externally-sponsored projects** at Duke, in accordance with the Principal Investigator Eligibility policy.  

An individual who is not a member of the regular rank faculty (e.g., residents, post-docs, research scientists, non-regular rank faculty) and has an ongoing employment relationship with the University, may be approved to serve as a PI/PD on applications for external funding through the PI Eligibility request form. This form should be prepared for specific funding opportunities and must be submitted by an individual from the org that will administer the award and has the appropriate rights and privileges within SPS (such as a departmental Business Manager or lead Research Administrator). The individual seeking PI status can not prepare or submit the PI eligibility request form. 

The PI Eligibility Request Form should be submitted at least ten (10) business days before the SPS record is due in a central pre-award office. Units in the Schools of Medicine and Nursing, PI Eligibility Request Forms are required to submit their requests at least ten (10) business days before the SPS record is due in ORA. 

The following procedure outlines the documentation and approvals necessary to seek and obtain PI status, depending on the nature of the funding opportunity and the individual’s relationship to the University. 


For most requests, the following documentation is required: 

  1. Justification from mentor, division head, vice chair: This justification will articulate how the proposed individual meets the eligibility requirements of the FOA and possesses the qualifications to oversee and conduct the proposed activities. This justification should address the following: 

  1. The relationship of the individual to the University, including their employment status and/or a trainee operating under supervision of a member of the faculty. 
  2. The qualifications of the proposed individual as PI to oversee and conduct the proposed activities. It is recommended that this include how the funding opportunity and proposed activities are appropriate for their current career stage and planned career/research trajectory. 
  3. The relationship of the individual to other institutions, including employment and availability of commitment. 
  4. The academic quality and potential scholarly impact of the proposed activity. 
  5. The relevance and importance of the proposed activities to other University priorities and the overall mission of the University. 
  6. Any other project or unit-specific criteria. 
  1. Endorsement from the head of the academic or administrative unit which will administer the award: A statement should be included indicating that the unit will accept the fiscal, administrative, and programmatic responsibility for the project if, for any reason, the proposed individual is unable to fulfill their duties as PI/PD. It should also indicate that the unit has the administrative resources in place to provide management and oversight of the proposed activities. 

  1. If the head of the academic or administrative unit provides the justification and the endorsement, one letter can address both needs. 
  2. For those with dual appointments, or those seeking PI eligibility for a project that would be administered outside of their primary appointment department, officials from the unit that will administer the award should partner with the individual’s owning org to complete the PI eligibility request. 


In certain circumstances, it may be appropriate to submit alternative or supplemental documentation. Units should consider if the individual requesting PI eligibility meets any of the following conditions, and prepare the PI Eligibility request form accordingly: 

  • Incoming faculty (transferring from another institution): Departments may submit the candidate’s redacted offer letter, in lieu of an endorsement and justification letter. 
  • Incoming faculty (new faculty): For individuals who are being promoted to regular rank faculty status, departments may submit the offer letter in lieu of an endorsement and justification letter. The letter should note the start date for the position. 
  • Trainee: For individuals who are in a trainee role, departments should describe the conditions of the funding opportunity under which the individual is qualified to apply. Examples may include: early career investigator funding, funding opportunities designated for fellows, etc. Units should also describe other fellowships/funding the trainee is currently receiving and whether those opportunities include any restrictions on activities, efforts, further support. Note: in order to serve as a PI/PD on applications the individual must have an ongoing employment relationship with the University.  



Upon submission of a complete PI Eligibility Request form, the following approvals are required before the request will be processed and PI status assigned in SPS. 

  1. Approval and acceptance from the relevant management center official or their designee. For individuals in Medicine and Nursing, the department chairs and school deans (or their designee) must submit a statement of approval. For the Provost Area, the school deans and the Provost, or their designees, must submit a statement of approval. 
  2. Once the request has been approved, the proposed individual will receive an email confirming that they may submit an application for external funding. By requesting and receiving eligibility to serve as PI/PD, the proposed individual is agreeing to complete relevant and required trainings and adhere to policies and procedures. Additionally, the individual is confirming that they have reviewed, and will be subject to, the roles and responsibilities of a PI/PD at Duke University as defined in the Research Policy Manual


*Regular Rank Faculty status is defined in Chapter 3 of the Faculty Handbook (see related job codes at the bottom of this page) 

**Departments should note, externally-sponsored projects include awards that are funded internally to Duke faculty/staff using external funding sources (whether referred to as internal awards, pilot projects, development grants, etc.). Although these proposals do not route through SPS, applicant eligibility to serve as PI should be confirmed during the proposal process. PI status must be requested and granted, where applicable, before notifying the individual of the award and before a WBSE is established. 


Regular rank faculty position job codes

Regular rank faculty positions

Job codes



Assistant/Associate/Research Professor


Assistant/Associate/Professor of the Practice


Assistant/Associate/Professor – Career Track


Assistant/Associate/Professor – Track 4


Assistant/Associate/Professor – Track 5


Assistant/Associate/Clinical Professor


Medical Instructor


Lecturer, MC


Lecturer, University


Senior Lecturer