Page Updated: June 30, 2023
The transfer of a Principal Investigator (PI), and subsequently an award, from one institution to another is a complex and time-consuming action, and a number of potential issues should be addressed prior to the transfer. An award transfer to a new institution is not simply the change of a name on the award documents.
Intended for research administrators, this page covers the information needed and actions taken when a PI transfers institutions. Here you will find information to effectively facilitate the transfer of a PI into, or out of, the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
All grants and contracts, both Federal and non-Federal, are awarded to The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, not directly to Principal Investigators. If a PI wants to change institutions, the UW will determine on a case-by-case basis whether it will retain, transfer, or terminate the award. As the grantee institution, the UW must approve the relinquishment of an award to formally transfer an award the PI’s new institution. The awarding agency or sponsor must also approve all grant/contract transfers.
To initiate a typical transfer, the UW first submits, using a process defined by the each sponsor, a transfer request. If the sponsor approves the request, the UW will begin the process of closing out the award. At the same time, the new institution will submit a proposal to the sponsor for the remaining funds. After completing both the closeout and proposal review stages, the sponsor will issue a new award to the new institution. This is generally not a quick process, and it can easily take two to three months. It is important to allocate enough time to the transfer process; therefore, the request should be made well prior to the expected start date at the new institution.
As straightforward as this process sounds, there are several factors to consider. Including, but not limited to, the following:
Please note that while federal grants are often transferred between institutions based on the relocation of a Principal Investigator, contracts are generally not transferrable, but instead may be terminated completely and re-issued to a new institution. Likewise, sponsors may require that UW retain the original contract and issue a new subcontract to the Principal Investigator’s new institution. Regardless of the award type, the steps outlined above should be followed. Any questions regarding this process may be directed to the Grants and Contracts Specialist assigned to the award.
If you don’t see the sponsor you are working with below, please refer to the terms and conditions listed in the award document or the sponsor’s website for additional information.
Department of Defense (DoD)
Department of Education
Department of Energy (DOE)
Department of the Interior
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Office of Naval Research (ONR)
Faculty who leave the UW should obtain appropriate clearances in order to exit the University in good standing. Likewise, faculty who arrive at the UW need to obtain appropriate clearances in order to conduct their research. The Checklists below are tools for Principal Investigators and Departmental Administrators to assist in ensuring that all pertinent activities are properly handled for PIs transferring to another institution or transferring to the UW. These Checklists may not include everything, however they are an attempt to highlight the more common issues/concerns that complicate and potentially slow down the transition of a PI, or cause problems when a PI transfers between institutions.