Proposal Development Grant Program

The Proposal Development Grant Program is currently undergoing a major review and possible significant restructuring. If you need support for developing proposals for significant external funding (> $250,000), please contact Vice Provost Zong-Guo Xia at


Information and Application Guidelines

  • Eligibility: Faculty
  • Application Deadline:  Open throughout the year
  • Awards announced: Within two months of receiving the proposal
  • Maximum award: $7,000 for a single PI; $10,000 for interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary proposals with two Co-PIs from one or two departments/colleges/universities; $15,000 for interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary proposals with three or more investigators from two or more departments/colleges/universities

General Information

These grants support individual faculty or a team of faculty who will engage in pilot research directly relevant to the preparation and writing of a competitive proposal for submission to an external funding agency.

Proposal development grants are funded through a reallocation of UMass Boston research trust funds obtained from the recovery of facilities and administration costs of sponsored programs. Recipients of an award under this competition are required to submit through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) a competitive grant proposal to an external funding agency within a year of receiving the internal Proposal Development grant. Efforts to develop and submit a proposal to secure extramural support for any form of research with a proposed budget of $50,000 or higher may be funded through this grant program. Requests for support of pilot research that does not lead to the writing and submission of a proposal to an extramural sponsor will not be considered for support under this program.  Preference will be given to proposals for multidisciplinary and multi-institutional projects.1 A committee of university faculty, drawn from various disciplines and program areas and nominated by the College Deans in consultation with their Department Chairs and faculty, will review all applications and make recommendations to the Vice Provost for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies for the allocation of the proposal development grant funds.  Allocations for grants are based on the significance of the project, the merits of the proposal development strategy, the quality of presentation, the likelihood the proposal will be selected for funding by an extramural sponsor, and the reasonableness of the budget request.

Nature of the Proposal Development Grant Program

A total of $100,000 has been allocated from the university’s research trust funds for these awards. Applicants may request up to $7,000 in grant funds for proposal development with a single PI, $10,000 for interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary proposals with two Co-PIs from one or two departments/colleges/universities, or $15,000 for interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary proposals with three or more investigators from two or more departments/colleges/universities.

Budget items that may be supported through this funding mechanism include research assistants, technical and clerical support beyond that normally available through the applicant’s department, communications, equipment, supplies, database access, and travel. Stipends (taxable remuneration) and equipment will not be funded by the proposal development grant program.

Who May Submit a Proposal

Any UMass Boston faculty member is eligible to submit a proposal for consideration. Joint interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary proposals from a research team of two or more individuals from one or more departments/colleges/universities are strongly encouraged. An individual faculty (as PI) may receive:

  • one grant in a given year from all internal grant competitions (e.g., Healey Research, Public Service, Proposal Development),
  • up to four total grants from any combination of internal grant competitions in 6 years, and
  • up to two grants in 6 years in a single competition (e.g., two Proposal Development Grants in 6 years).

Individuals who received a proposal development grant, but did not submit a proposal for external funding are no longer eligible for support under this program.

Submission Deadline

Proposals for support under this program are accepted throughout the year. Submit all materials electronically to Associate Vice Provost for Research Laura L. Hayman at with a copy to Annette Cameron. Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies, at

What to Submit

In order to expedite the review of proposals, applicants are required to submit proposals in the following format. The application materials should be assembled and submitted electronically an one (1) PDF document.

  • Cover sheet (form attached) with applicant and proposal information, a 50-word abstract, list of all internal grants previously awarded to the applicant, and signatures from the appropriate persons or groups including the applicant's Department Chair.
  • Budget (form attached) presenting a breakdown of project expenses by category.
  • Budget narrative explaining each item requested on the budget form. Requests for stipends for the applicant will not be considered. Requests for graduate assistants during the academic year must conform to the pay scale and other requirements of the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) bargaining agreement which can be found here. Requests for professional consultants to assist in the preparation and writing of the proposal (e.g., research design or statistical analysis consultation, proposal review and critique) will be considered, but budget requests to pay a grant writer will not be considered. Include also a description of any other project costs that are being provided by the department, college, or other source.
  • Project narrative describing the project for which funding is being requested. The project narrative is the core of the proposal. Members of the review committee will make their recommendations based on their interpretation of your project as described in this section. It is to the applicant’s advantage to provide background information in enough detail to convey why the project is significant, what will be accomplished, the schedule of activities, and how the project fits into an ongoing research plan and advances UMass Boston's research agenda. The applicant must be as clear as possible, remembering that the readers will represent various disciplines and program areas and may not have expertise in the subject matter of the proposal. The proposal narrative will be judged as a sample of grantsmanship. Specifically, clear writing, logical argument, and justification of budget items are critical elements.
  • The project narrative must be limited to eight (8) double-spaced pages and must include the following:
    • significance of the proposed project that will the subject of a proposal to be developed and submitted to an extramural funding source;
    • brief review of relevant literature related to the proposed project,citing where appropriate one's own past and/or present research;
    • strategy for the development and submission of a proposal for the proposed project to an extramural funding source, including aims and a set of activities, with a timeline for accomplishment;
    • distinction between the aims of the present proposal with related research activities to be conducted within the timeline of the grant award and the aims of the grant proposal to be developed and submitted to an external funding agency;
    •  identification of a specific extramural  funding agency to which the proposal will be submitted with substantiation of the agency’s likelihood of  funding the topic (e.g., evidence of fit with the agency’s research mission, goals and priorities and/or response to a specific RFA issued by the external agency; and 
    • qualifications of the applicant and research team that ensure the success of the project if funded by the extramural agency (especially important if the attached résumé does not reflect previous work of this nature).
  • Résumé of the applicant (not to exceed 3 pages) focusing on research, scholarship, and publications that directly relate to the proposed project, which may include a list of any external grants received and pending. The resume should include a short narrative of the applicant's expertise relevant to the proposed project.
  • A résumé for each individual if a team is carrying out the proposal research. The résumés for key investigators should be similar in form and content to the applicant’s and clearly indicate the specific expertise the individual brings to the proposed project.
  • Other documents, such as letters of commitment from other organizations, departments, or units that may be collaborating on the proposed project.

Review of Proposals

A committee composed of faculty in the basic sciences, social and behavioral sciences, humanities, and professional fields will review all proposals. The committee will make recommendations to the Vice Provost for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies who will make all final decisions. Grant awards will be announced within two months of receiving the proposal. 

Proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Significance:  The extent to which the proposal to be developed and submitted to an extramural funding source will make an original and important contribution to the field of inquiry it addresses.
  • Project Development Strategy:  The extent to which the pilot research and the information (data) generated will provide the foundation for a sound and competitive proposal.
  • Likelihood of Funding: The extent to which the proposal identifies an appropriate funding source and the likelihood the proposal to be developed and submitted will be selected for funding by the extramural agency.
  • Quality of Presentation: The extent to which the proposal demonstrates a level of “grantsmanship” that reflects the quality of the proposal to be submitted to a federal or private funding agency.

Grant Management

All university-supported proposal development grants are administered in accordance with established university fiscal procedures and policies relating to the conduct of sponsored programs. Accounts for all awards will be established within one month of the award decisions. All funds must be expended within a year. The following conditions are attached to the award and must be accepted by the recipient at the time of the grant award:

  • A final project report must be filed with Office of Research and Sponsored Programs within two months of the expiration date of the internal award, summarizing grant project activities, outcomes, and expenditures.
  • All documents, papers, and publications associated with the activities supported by the grant award must acknowledge the assistance of the Proposal Development Grant program of the University of Massachusetts Boston.

For additional information, please contact Associate Vice Provost for Research Laura L. Hayman at 617.287.7504 or
1 We recognize that multidisciplinary teams need not be multi-departmental. Some departments are structured to encompass different disciplinary perspectives, and some members of different departments come from the same discipline.