Identifying Principal and Co-Principal Investigators

This internal practice document provides eligibility requirements for serving as Principal (PI) or Co-Principal (Co-PI) investigator on sponsored projects. All sponsored projects submitted through Michigan Tech are awarded to Michigan Tech, not to individual investigators.


Principal Investigator

An individual designated by the recipient (Michigan Tech) to direct the project or program being supported by the sponsored funding. He or she is responsible and accountable to Michigan Tech for the proper conduct of the project or program. Michigan Tech is, in turn, legally responsible and accountable to the Sponsor for the performance and financial aspects of the sponsored activity.

Co-Principal Investigator

An individual working in partnership with the Principal Investigator in the management, development and/or execution of the project. A co-investigator typically devotes a specified percentage of time to the project and is considered key personnel.  The designation of a co-investigator does not affect the principal investigator's role and responsibilities as the individual accountable for performance of the sponsored project and management of the sponsored funding.

Regular Employee

An individual who holds an established position, works for Michigan Tech on a primary and regular basis without a pre-determined end-date, and whose compensation from Michigan Tech is subject to state and federal withholding.

Guidelines for PI eligibility

  • Regular Employees which include Academic Tenured and Tenure-track FacultyResearch Scientists/Engineers, Research Faculty, and Staff can serve as PIs or Co-PIs on sponsored projects.
  • Employees with fixed-term appointments may serve as PIs or Co-PIs on projects at the discretion of their supervisor and Chair/Dean. Employees in this category who submit proposals as PIs must also include a Co-PI who is a Regular Employee when the expected end-date of the proposed project or program is past the end-date of the term appointment.
  • Adjunct, Retired, or Emeritus Faculty who do not have another primary employer may serve as PIs or Co-PIs on projects at the discretion of their Chair or Dean. Individuals in these categories who submit proposals as PIs will also include at least one Regular Employee of Michigan Tech as Co-PI. Individuals employed full-time at another institution, corporation, agency, or any other entity may not be a PI on sponsored projects at Michigan Tech.
  • Graduate students can be Co-PIs on sponsored projects as long as a Regular Employee is listed as the PI, subject to exceptions based on sponsor or proposal solicitation requirements.  In instances where a sponsor requires that a graduate student be listed as PI, a Regular Employee must be listed as a Co-PI.   In such cases, the Co-PI will be the financial manager of any sponsored index associated with any funding awarded.
  • Undergraduate students cannot be PIs on sponsored projects but may be Co-PIs.