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Principal Investigator Status Policy


To describe conditions under which individuals will be allowed to serve as a Principal Investigator on proposals for sponsored projects submitted through the KU Center for Research (KUCR) or the University of Kansas (KU).

Applies to: 

Individuals seeking to submit sponsored project proposals through KUCR or KU.

Juniper Gardens
Policy Statement: 

The Principal Investigator (PI) is the person ultimately responsible for the scope, fiscal affairs, and administration of a sponsored project. The PI is responsible for ensuring that all sponsored projects, including all sponsored research, training and/or public service activities, takes place in accordance with the terms under which the sponsored award was issued and that the sponsored activity complies with all applicable federal, state, and University regulations. All proposals and sponsored projects must designate one person as the PI. In order to be designated as the PI on a proposal or sponsored project, an individual must first have PI status.

When two or more individuals decide to share jointly the PI responsibility for a sponsored project, each individual will be designated as Co-PI for internal administration purposes only. One of the individuals among those holding Co-PI status holders must still be designated as the official contact PI and bear ultimate responsibility for the project for official purposes.

There are two different types of PI status on the Lawrence campus: regular and special (which are explained below). The Lawrence campus does not grant PI status to students.

Other named individuals who participate in carrying out the scope of a sponsored project and share in the credit are usually identified as Co-Principal Investigators (Co-PI) or Co-Investigators (Co-I). The PI may delegate to a Co-PI or Co-I responsibilities for fiscal, administrative, or other aspects of the project; however, the PI ultimately bears the overall responsibility for the project. 

When a portion of a sponsored project is conducted under a subaward with another institution, it is not necessary to request KU PI status for individuals employed through that subcontract. The University will recognize PI status granted by the subcontracting institution based on the subrecipient's completed "Subrecipient Intent Form".

Regular PI Status

Faculty and unclassified academic staff on the Lawrence campus who have one or more of the official job titles listed below automatically attain PI status, effective with their written acceptance of appointment:

  • Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor;
  • Librarian, Associate Librarian, Assistant Librarian;
  • Senior Scientist, Associate Scientist, Assistant Scientist;
  • Senior Curator, Associate Curator, Assistant Curator;
  • Senior Specialist, Associate Specialist, Assistant Specialist;
  • Research Professor, Associate Research Professor, Assistant Research Professor;
  • Clinical Professor, Clinical Associate Professor, Clinical Assistant Professor;
  • Teaching Professor, Associate Teaching Professor, Assistant Teaching Professor; and
  • Professor of the Practice, Associate Professor of the Practice, Assistant Professor of the Practice.

The KU Lawrence campus honors regular PI status granted to individuals at other KU campuses once the other campus confirms that status to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

If a tenure-track faculty member is denied tenure, the faculty member automatically loses the privilege of submitting new sponsored proposals, effective on the date of notification of their denial of tenure. All other rights and responsibilities associated with PI status continue until the effective date of that faculty member's termination.

Emeritus faculty retain their PI status. However, they must submit a signed statement of commitment agreeing to comply with all relevant University regulations relating to the conduct of sponsored projects (see Principal Investigator Acknowledgment of Responsibilities) and they must demonstrate that a department or other unit on campus will provide project oversight services and any research space needed to support their activities.

Individuals with regular PI status who resign from KU do not normally retain their PI status after their resignation date. Individuals leaving KU who are serving as PI or Co-PI on active awards or pending projects must arrange to transfer those projects to their new institution, name a new KU PI to replace them, or request Special PI Status in order to complete final project activities and close out the award.

Special PI Status

The University may grant special PI status to University employees who do not qualify for regular PI status (i.e., directors, research associates, unclassified professional staff, university support staff, and post-doctoral researchers) for whom submission of grants is an expectation of their employment or training. 

To obtain special PI status, the employee's supervisor or chair/director of the unit supporting the request must submit the following to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research:

  • a letter of recommendation based on the nominee's expertise containing a statement that addresses
    • the benefit to KU and KU's research enterprise in granting the PI status
    • the associated unit's agreement to support and house any project awarded under the nominee's direction;
  • a copy of the nominee's curriculum vita; and 
  • a signed statement of commitment from the individual agreeing to comply with all relevant University regulations relating to the conduct of sponsored project(s) (see Principal Investigator Acknowledgment of Responsibilities).

Requests for special PI status must be submitted at least three (3) working weeks (i.e., 15 working days) prior to the deadline for submission of the proposal.

PI Status for Non-University Employees

Individuals who are not employed by the University must apply for Affiliate status prior to applying for PI Status.

PI status is not normally granted to individuals who are not employed by the University. If, however, there are compelling reasons for attaining this status for non-university employees (e.g., adjunct faculty, visiting faculty, or other designated affiliates), then the chair/director of the unit supporting such a request must follow the Special PI Status process noted above to attain Special PI Status for that individual. The decision to grant Special PI Status to an individual who is not an employee of the University will be determined by the Vice Chancellor for Research and may be approved when doing so is in the best interests of the University. Special PI status for departing faculty will only be granted to complete and close out existing projects, not to submit additional proposals or accept new awards.


Proposals that list individuals without PI status as PI will not be processed, approved, or submitted, and awards made for proposals that do not comply with these procedures may be declined.


Office of Research

Approved by: 
Vice Chancellor for Research
Approved on: 
Monday, January 5, 2009
Effective on: 
Monday, January 5, 2009
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Principal Investigator Status, Sponsored Projects, Research
Change History: 
12/11/2023: Updated to address PIs departing University and provide link to form required for Special PI status.
11/27/2023: Removed requirement for KU faculty and staff co-investigators (Co-PI) to have PI status and added benefit statement to Special PI status request letter requirements.
06/06/2023: Updated to address PIs departing University and provide link to form required for Special PI status.
06/20/2022: Updated policy to remove project specific and limited term status.
10/25/2019: Updated Titles for Regular PI Status.
04/05/2019: Technical edits. 
09/30/2018: Updated contact information.
07/11/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.
02/17/2016: Updated office name and contact information.
10/14/2015: PI Acknowledgement of Responsibilities Checklist link updated.
09/10/2015: PI Acknowledgement of Responsibilities Checklist document and link updated.
12/15/2014: Policy formatting cleanup (e.g., bolding, spacing).
06/16/2014: Changed references to 'Office of Research & Graduate Studies' to 'Office of Research', formatting updates, and fixed broken/incorrect links.
10/15/2012: Revised for addition of limited-term status.
09/10/2012: Revised - updated contact information.
06/13/2012: Revised formatting and addition of one category of employment under regular PI status.
11/30/2010: Revised terminology for Librarians.
08/28/2009: Revised.
Research and Sponsored Projects Category: 
Research and Sponsored Projects

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