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 policyExternally-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.

Approvals and Commitments

Individuals who are not a member of the regular rank faculty at Duke University may request eligibility to serve as PI/PD on applications for external funding. Such requests are subject to the following approvals and commitments:

  1. Commitment from the individual requesting PI eligibility that they have reviewed, and will be subject to, the roles and responsibilities of a PI/PD at Duke University as defined in Chapter of the Faculty Handbook. By requesting and receiving eligibility to serve as PI/PD, the proposed individual is also agreeing to complete relevant and required trainings and adhere to policies and procedures.
  2. A written justification articulating the proposed the individual's qualifications to oversee and conduct the proposed activities, and explain how the  request for PI eligibility satisfies the below criteria . Justification for the request must be provided by an individual (such as a mentor, division head, etc.) with the ability to evaluate the scientific merits of the proposed activities; however, the head of the academic or administrative unit which will administer the award must endorse the request and 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. Management center officials will review the  letter(s) prior to approval.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. Unit officials should use the following criteria when writing endorsement and/or justification letter and submitting a request for PI eligibility:
    • The relationship of the individual to the University, including employment and/or trainee under supervision of a member of the faculty
    • The relationship of the individual to other institutions, including employment and availability of commitment
    • The academic quality and potential scholarly impact of the proposed activity
    • The relevance and importance of the proposed activities to other University priorities and the overall mission of the University
    • The qualifications of the proposed individual as PI to oversee and conduct the proposed activities
    • That adequate unit administrative resources are in place to provide management and oversight of the proposed activities
    • Any other project or unit-specific criteria

For Schools of Medicine and Nursing:

  • PI Eligibility Request Forms must be received at least ten (10) business days before the SPS record is due in ORA.

PI Eligibility Request Form

Requests for eligibility to serve as PI/PD on applications for external funding 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). Candidates for PI/PD eligibility should work with departmental officials to ensure complete and accurate records are submitted via the PI Eligibility Request form.

For most requests, the departmental official submitting the PI eligibility request form should be prepared to submit 1) the PI/PD candidate’s CV and 2) a letter from the head of the academic or administrative unit articulating the candidate’s qualifications and the unit’s ability to provide administrative support.

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 PI (transferring from another institution): Departments may submit the candidate’s redacted offer letter, in lieu of an endorsement and justification letter.
  • Incoming PI (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.

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


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