Who Can be a Principal Investigator?


A Principal Investigator (“PI”) must be identified for every proposal submitted by the university. While there may be any number of co-Principal Investigators (“co-PI”) or co-investigators (“co-I”) involved in a proposal, there must be one individual who is recognized as ultimately responsible for the overall management of the project/program, completion of all required reports and deliverables, and who will serve as the primary technical point of contact for the potential funding agency and California State University, Fullerton (“CSUF”)  if the proposal is funded. In some projects, a Principal Investigator may also serve as Project Director (“PD”).


Principal Investigator (PI) General Eligibility Requirements


Any of the following criteria must be met for an individual to serve as a PI:

  • Tenure or Tenure-track faculty member currently employed by the CSUF
  • Academic Administrator: Department Chair, College Dean or equivalent, Associate Vice President, Vice President, President
  • Full-time employees (normally Administrators/MPPs) of the CSUF or ASC acting in his/her capacity as Center Director (or equivalent appointment)
  • A faculty with emeritus status, with prior approvals from the College Dean or Division Head/Vice President, and Associate Vice President for the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (AVP-OSRP)
  • Non-tenured faculty such as Adjunct Faculty or Lecturer, with prior approvals from the College Dean  or  Division Head/Vice President,  and  AVP-OSRP

Special Circumstances:

  • A Visiting Faculty (with temporary appointment) may serve as Co-PI for a proposed project, provided that the main PI is a full-time faculty member or Academic Administrator (as defined above) and the funding agency allows such.
  • Students submitting proposals where an award is issued to the CSUF or ASC must be sponsored by a faculty member or academic administrator who acts as the designated PI.  If the sponsor guidelines require, the student may be listed as a co-investigator, but may not be the point of contact for the project.

Note: Prior approvals may be provided via email or signed “PI Approval Form” (template provided on Page 2).  Some colleges and departments may have specific guidelines on PI eligibility. Prospective PIs or co-PIs should check with her/his department and/or college to ensure that he/she meets their unit’s specific eligibility requirements.


Change in PI/PD

If a current PI or PD severs his/her affiliation with the CSUF or ASC or otherwise relinquishes active direction of the project, s/he will notify the ASC’s Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) of such change.