Office of Sponsored Programs - 200.03 - Principal Investigator Eligibility


Office of Sponsored Programs - 200.03 - Principal Investigator Eligibility


Since sponsored research is at the core of the University’s mission, it is essential that highly qualified individuals are designated to serve in the role of Principal Investigator (PI) in a manner consistent with the Board of Governor’s policy regarding the appropriateness of University Research, and aligned with the University’s policy on ethics in research.

Policy Statement

On externally sponsored research projects, in accordance with the University’s eligibility policy, full-time, permanent EHRA faculty may serve as PIs. Each PI and each member of the research team are responsible for assuring deans, directors, and department heads that their University commitments will be sustained during the duration of the research project.

PIs, deans, directors, and department heads do not have the authority to enter into legal agreements on behalf of the University. All sponsored research agreements involving grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements must be signed by a University representative with institutional signature authority.

I. Multiple Principal Investigators

When two or more PIs are designated by the University for the responsibility of scientific, technical, scholarly, or artistic direction of sponsored projects, these PIs share equal, full authority and responsibility for the intellectual, administrative, and financial aspects of the proposal and award, consistent with applicable laws, regulations, terms, and conditions.

Appointing multiple PIs is appropriate only when the research project has the potential to maximize team science projects and multidisciplinary research. Instances of multiple PIs are often seen in such agencies as the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Regardless of the number of PIs, each is required to complete certification in RAMSeS for any proposal where s/he is named as a PI.

II. Limited Submissions

The University utilizes an internal selection process to identify and fairly judge among numerous investigators interested in submitting applications for sponsored projects that limit the number of proposals originating from the University. The Office of Research Development is responsible for the identification, alerts to the research community, and the selection process regarding limited submissions.


While the majority of PIs are full-time, permanent EHRA faculty members, some research projects are conducted by PIs with different employee designations:

  • Postdoctoral Fellows

    • Postdoctoral fellows ("postdocs") cannot be designated as lead PIs in RAMSeS and are not recognized in that capacity by the University. Instead, postdocs are designated as other project team roles under the oversight of an eligible full-time, permanent EHRA faculty member, who is named as the PI in RAMSeS and assumes the role of "mentor" to the postdoc. Although this may contradict cases where agencies allow a postdoc to serve as a lead PI, the University’s designation prevails for administrative purposes.
  • Non-Faculty EHRA, SHRA Employees, and Part-time Faculty

    • In very exceptional circumstances, non-faculty EHRA employees and part-time faculty members may serve as lead PIs with written approval from their dean, director, or departmental head.
  • PIs Transferring to UNC-CH

    • Deans, directors, or departmental heads may submit proposals in RAMSeS on behalf of a PI transferring from a different institution to the University. The proposal must be submitted directly from the dean, director, or department head and requires attaching a memo or email in RAMSeS explaining the circumstances of the submission. Once the PI has transferred to the University, additional information about the PI may be added to RAMSeS.

Related Requirements

Unit Policies, Standards, & Procedures

Contact Information

For questions regarding this operating standard and its related procedure, please contact

For questions regarding Pre-Award management or Post-Award administration, please contact the assigned Sponsored Projects Specialist (SPS).

For invoicing, reporting and other financial matters, please contact the assigned Sponsored Projects Accountant.
OSP Staff assignments may be found in RAMSeS or on the OSP website.


History Table
Date Description
07/01/2022 Revised to reflect new office name.
05/15/2018 Revised to coincide with the release of the new OSP Website.
10/05/2011 Revised to correct PI eligibility to include full-time, permanent EPA employees (inclusive of EPA non-faculty) and include additional policy references related to EPA employment pursuant to grants.

The operating standards in the Office of Sponsored Programs Operating Standards & Procedures Manual supersede any OSP operating standards, procedures and appendices previously included in the University Business Manual, a publication of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Division of Finance.

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Article ID: 132273
Thu 4/8/21 9:27 PM
Fri 5/17/24 12:43 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Research-Office of Sponsored Programs
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Vice Chancellor
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
01/19/2025 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
01/19/2024 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
07/01/2022 12:00 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
07/01/2022 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
07/01/2008 12:00 AM