Read the full policy: Research Circular B.1: Policy on Principal Investigator Roles and Responsibilities and Eligibility to Serve as Principal Investigator.

For a quick reference, see the Table of PI Eligibility.

If an exception to policy is required, complete the Office of Research Form 99.

General Eligibility Requirements

The following individuals are eligible to serve as Principal Investigators, including Listed Principal Investigators, for extramural contracts or grants:

  • Members of the Academic Senate, including the following titles, whether in regular or emeritus status: 
    • Chancellor
    • Vice Chancellor
    • Dean (Academic)
    • Professor
    • Associate Professor
    • Assistant Professor
    • Research Professor
    • Director of Academic Program
    • University Librarian
    • Senior Lecturer with Security of Employment at 100%
    • Lecturer with Security of Employment at 100%
    • Senior Lecturer with Potential for Security of Employment at 100%
    • Lecturer with Potential for Security of Employment at 100%
    • Note: additional titles are located in the Manual of the Santa Barbara Division University of California Academic Senate Divisional Bylaws and Regulations, Chapter 1: Membership.
  • Physical Education or University Extension Specialists who will personally participate in a significant manner in training or training-related research projects.
  • Appointees 50% time or greater in the Professional Researcher series.
  • Appointees 50% time or greater in the Adjunct Professor series.
  • The following senior administrative positions, when the project is closely aligned with the nature of their position: the Director of the Art Museum, the Director of the Orfalea Family Children’s Center, and the Chief of Police.


When a proposal or award for a Sponsored Project has more than one Principal Investigator, each Principal Investigator must meet the eligibility criteria or receive an exception to policy.

PI Exceptions

Authority to approve exceptions to the eligibility requirements for Principal Investigator status is vested in the Director of Sponsored Projects and approved in consultation with the Vice Chancellor for Research.  Authority to approve exceptions is re-delegated, under certain circumstances, to Department Chairs and ORU directors.  These circumstances are outlined in the Table of PI Eligibility.


  • the project is in the best interests of the University;
  • the project or program will contribute to the basic instructional or academic plan of the department or organized research unit;
  • the individual is qualified to undertake the proposed project or program;
  • adequate space is available; and,
  • adequate administrative resources are available within the department to provide necessary assistance with project management and oversight.
  • Professional Researcher appointees at less than 50% time.Other specialty titles (e.g., Museum Director), when the nature of their position requires them to head research, public service, or instructional projects.
  • Students submitting proposals for fellowships, dissertation research grants, or field research grants to be awarded to The Regents, when an extramural funding agency requires that the student originating a project also be the individual who initiates the application for funding.
  • Courtesy appointments (e.g., Research Associate) to serve as Co-Principal Investigators, with the understanding that such individuals cannot at any time assume the role of sole Principal Investigator.
  • Other academic research titles (e.g., Specialist or Postdoctoral Scholar) who wish to serve as Co-Principal Investigators on a project, with an established history at this campus of successfully conducting research.

Procedures for Requests for PI Exceptions

Signature of authorized unit head on the Office of Research Data Sheet & Approval Form (Form 100) shall constitute evidence of approval for the following types of exceptions:

  • Professional Researcher appointees between 1-49 percent time to serve as Co-Principal Investigator in conjunction with an eligible individual.
  • Graduate students and postdoctoral students to serve as Co-Principal Investigator on fellowship, field work or dissertation projects only (the student may be identified as the Principal Investigator if so required by the agency, but an eligible or otherwise approved individual must be named as Co-Principal Investigator).

Individual and Blanket Exceptions are subject to the approval of the Director of Sponsored Projects (SPO) in consultation with Vice Chancellor for Research. The Director of SPO may apply additional stipulations upon approval.

  1. Individual Exceptions may be requested for individuals within a department or organized research unit (ORU) on a project-by-project basis. Requests for Individual Exceptions to serve as Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator are to be submitted to the Office of Research on an Office of Research Form 99.

  2. Blanket Exceptions may be requested for individuals within a department or organized research unit (ORU). If approved, these exceptions are applied to multiple projects within the same department or ORU. These exceptions, once approved, will remain in effect until revoked by the requesting department or ORU.  Blanket exceptions may also be requested for identifiable groups of individuals. Requests for Blanket Exceptions are to be submitted via email or memorandum from the requesting Department Chair or ORU Director to the Director of Sponsored Projects and must address the elements specified on the Office of Research Form 99.

Requests to appoint substitute Principal Investigators or Co-Principal Investigators are to be submitted by memorandum to the Office of Research for review and transmittal to the sponsoring agency.  In general, such requests require the prior approval of the sponsor agency if the substitution is to be for a period of three months of more (although certain agencies may have different requirements). The memorandum should specify the length of the substitution, the reason, and the qualifications of the substituting individual.