Virginia Tech® home

Principal Investigator Resources

Contact Information

Trudy Riley

Associate Vice President, Sponsored Programs

Office of Sponsored Programs
North End Center, Suite 4200, Virginia Tech
300 Turner Street NW
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Related Form Downloads

If you need to request a non-paid affiliate status for an individual, please use the P-86 form on the Department of Human Resources website.  This form does NOT have to be sent to the Office of Sponsored Programs.

Principal Investigator Guidelines

A principal investigator (PI) is normally a member of the academic or research faculty who bears responsibility for the intellectual leadership of a project. The principal investigator accepts overall responsibility for directing the research, the financial oversight of the award’s funding, as well as compliance with relevant university policies and federal regulations as well as sponsor terms and conditions of an award.

Principal Investigator Eligibility Chart

Faculty Rank Type and/or HR Classification Serve as PI Serve as Co-PI
Professor (all ranks) Yes Yes
Retired Faculty Member Yes* Yes
Research Professor (all ranks) Yes Yes
Project Associate No Yes
Senior Project Associate No** Yes
Project Director Yes Yes
Collegiate Faculty (all ranks) Yes Yes
Research Associate No Yes
Senior Research Associate No** Yes
Adjunct Faculty (all ranks) No** No
Postdoctoral Associate No** Yes
Research Scientist Yes Yes
Senior Research Scientist Yes Yes
Instructor/Professor of Practice/Clinical Faculty/Lecturer (all ranks) No** Yes
Administrative/Professional faculty No** Yes
Visiting Professor (all ranks) No*** Yes
Graduate Student No^ No

* See exception request process for retired faculty eligibility requirements

** Exceptions require approval of department head, dean and the senior vice president for research and innovation

***Exceptions require approval of department head and dean; visiting professor required to be on Virginia Tech  payroll while serving as principal investigator

^Unless required by sponsor and approved by department head and dean

Principal Investigator Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to qualify for principal investigator status, an individual must demonstrate or possess the following:

  • A doctorate or master’s with substantial related experience
  • Evidence of scholarship
  • Direct benefit to the university

Principal Investigator (PI): This individual has been designated by the university and the sponsor as the responsible person for overall administrative, fiscal, scientific and technical direction, and conduct of a sponsored project in accordance with relevant university policies and procedures, federal and state regulations, sponsor guidelines as well as the terms and conditions of an award.

Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI): This individual has been designated by the university and the sponsor as a Co-PI and shares the responsibilities for the sponsored project with the PI. In addition to responsibilities for the administrative, compliance, and scientific and technical direction of a sponsored project, the Co-PI has fiscal authority and may oversee the spending of a sponsored project in accordance with its terms and conditions.

Co-Investigator (Co-I): As an investigator on a sponsored project, this individual is responsible for conducting research within the terms and conditions of the award and in accordance with the university policies and procedures.

Collaborator: This individual commits to contribute to the scientific development or execution of the project, but does not commit any specified measurable level of effort on the project. Individuals who qualify for the role of PI, Co-PI, or Co-I and who will contribute measurable effort may not be listed as a collaborator.

Those individuals listed as non PI eligible on the Principal Investigator Eligibility Chart may be considered for approval for PI status by submitting a completed Principal Investigator Status Request (PDF) and sending the form to OSP using the email address of The request may be made for continuous PI status of an active employee or approval of PI status for a specific proposal submission. Initial duration for approval is up to one year with possibility of extension upon request.

Current Employee

Current employees in the following categories can request PI status

  1. Salaried employees not normally considered eligible by their rank.
    Please review the PI Eligibility Criteria to determine if PI status can be requested for the employee rank.
  2. Faculty on P-14 appointment.
    Faculty in a part time position paid on P-14 appointment may request to continue serving as PI or Co-PI for the effort expended on sponsored projects.

Non-Paid Affiliate

Non-paid affiliates with an HR approved P-86 appointment may be considered for approval for PI status by submitting a completed Principal Investigator Status Request (PDF) and sending the form to the Office of Sponsored Programs using the email address of

Note: Virginia Tech division of human resources governs the non-paid affiliate appointment process, using the P-86 form. Departments may consult with the Office of Sponsored Programs about the eligibility requirements for non-paid affiliates by contacting

Non-paid affiliates in the following categories may request PI status:

  1. Emeritus Faculty
    Faculty granted emeritus status upon retirement by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors may serve as PIs, subject to the approval of the department head and the college dean. The sponsor of the award will need to be made aware of the change in the PI’s status and approve the individual remaining PI. If the emeritus faculty chooses to not be re-employed by the University to be paid for their effort, they will be required to certify their time and effort via a manual process rather than the standard Personnel Activity Reports (PARs) process.
  2. Newly recruited incoming faculty

    A future employee who wishes to have PI eligibility prior to the start of their appointment to facilitate a transfer of funded projects to Virginia Tech or to submit new proposals as an eligible Virginia Tech PI does NOT need to complete the PI Status Request Form. The PI or department administrative support staff should send the PI’s executed offer letter to the appropriate pre-award associate prior to processing the proposal in SUMMIT.
  3. Faculty separating from the University
    In most instances, when a PI separates from the university, the active awards for which they are a PI should either be transferred to the PI’s new institution or transferred to another PI at Virginia Tech. Both changes should be requested from the sponsor via the Office of Sponsored Programs.

    Limited circumstances that may warrant the granting of PI eligibility status to a PI separating from the university include:
    • The active award has an award end date within three months of the PI’s separation date from the university with no intention to request an extension or modification to extend end date; or
    • The sponsor makes a formal written request to the Office of Sponsored Programs for the award not to be transferred to the PI’s new institution and for the PI who is separating from the university to remain the PI.


The department making a request to obtain PI eligible status for an individual should follow these procedures:

  1. A Principal Investigator Status Request (PDF) must be prepared to provide a rationale for the individual to serve as PI. The request must include a current CV for the proposed PI, and must be endorsed by the appropriate department head or institute director.
  2. The request is submitted to the appropriate senior management level (deans or VP office) for endorsement.
  3. The PI request packet and supporting requested documents should be forwarded to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) using the email address of
  4. Upon review of the PI request, OSP will confirm request approval or denial with the requesting department.