PSC-CUNY Research Award Program - Pre-Award

The Professional Staff Congress - City University of New York (PSC-CUNY) Research Award Program was established as a major vehicle to encourage and support faculty research. PSC-CUNY seeks to enhance the University's role as a research institution, further the professional growth and development of its faculty, and provide support for the established and junior scholar. Awards are distributed by the University Committee on Research Awards (UCRA), a faculty committee, and administered by RFCUNY. All applications are submitted through the Grants Proposal System.

The PSC-CUNY Research Award Program supports academically relevant research across all disciplines. Proposals must include original research or creative activities by the principal investigator (PI). Three award types are available:

  • Traditional A: up to $3,500
  • Traditional B: $3,600 to $6,000
  • Enhanced: $6,500 to $12,000


Full-time members of the instructional staff, including Higher Education Officers (HEOs) and College Laboratory Technicians (CLTs) are eligible to apply for the PSC-CUNY Award Program. Co-PIs must meet all eligibility criteria. Only one application per person, per cycle (year), as either PI or Co-PI is allowable.

Preparing an Application

Applying for the PSC-CUNY Award Program requires the applicant to complete the online application and attach a project description. The information under My Profile must be fully completed. My Profile includes important information on the applicant’s institution, educational background, tenure status, recent publications, and research awards.

Project Description
The project description should place the project in the perspective of the discipline and provide a detailed description of the project’s method and importance. Project description (including tables, literature reviews, and references) is limited to three (3) pages for Traditional A proposals and five (5) pages for Traditional B and Enhanced proposals. A PDF file of the project description may be single or double spaced, but formatting must include one-inch margins and a font of 10-12 points. Microsoft Word Docs will no longer be allowed as an attachment. If the project description exceeds the page length, the application will be rejected.

Budget Preparation & Categories
Budget requests must be justified on the basis of a project’s objectives and anticipated results. Applications for Traditional A and Traditional B awards require a short rationale for each budget item to be included in the space provided on the 'Budget' tab of the online application.

Applications for Enhanced awards must attach a separate, one-page budget justification providing a breakdown of expenses and a more detailed explanation of project costs.

Funding requests that do not fall within one of the below allowable budget categories are at risk of being rejected.

  • Supplies & Materials- all items with a value of less than $1,000 should be budgeted as supplies.
  • Equipment- Single items with a value of $1,000 or more are considered equipment and must be tagged by a PI’s campus property manager.
  • Travel- Purposed travel must be essential to the project and requires a detailed justification including an itinerary with proposed travel dates along with estimated costs. A PI is permitted to make arrangements for approved travel including purchasing flights and hotel accommodations starting May 1 prior to the grant start date; however, the travel itself must take place within the project budget period, starting no earlier than July 1.
  • Publication/Manuscript Preparation- The cost of preparing a manuscript resulting from a PSC-CUNY Research Award and the cost of publishing a manuscript in scholarly journals may be requested.
  • Research Staff- Funds may be used to support research assistants and post-doctoral assistants. The University Committee on Research Awards defines a post-doctoral assistant as an individual who has recently received a doctoral degree, but has not held a Full-time faculty appointment for one academic year or more.
  • Summer Salary- A PI is eligible for summer salary if their Full-time, yearly salary does not exceed the maximum salary of the Associate Professor scale as of January 1, not including longevity steps (as of 11/15/2022, the current maximum annual salary is $107,789.00). The PI’s annual salary plus summer salary cannot exceed the top associate professor scale.
  • Released Time- A PI may apply for a course release at a flat rate of $4,512.00; however, receiving an award with released time does not guarantee approval from the college. Individual CUNY institutions are responsible for establishing a policy that is consistent with budgetary and faculty arrangements. A PI is encouraged to obtain approval from their department chair prior to including released time in the budget proposal. Traditional A awards cannot support released time.
  • Independent Contractors- A PI may hire an independent contractor to provide services for an agreed upon fee. Independent contractors who are to be paid $5,000 or more in any calendar year require the execution of an Independent Contractor Agreement (ICA).
  • Subject Fees- Funds may be used to pay research subjects an incentive for participation in a research study. A PI should maintain a log for participants to sign after receiving the payment. Incentives that are purchased but not distributed are ineligible for reimbursement and are the responsibility of the PI.

Funding may not be requested for honorarium, journal subscriptions, internet or cellular services, memberships in professional organizations, advertisements, or any item or service that serves an ongoing need. Items purchased for general research use, not specified within the PSC CUNY Award, are not allowed. Costs related to renovations, office furniture or insurance are not allowed.

Student stipends or tuition costs for either the PI or an assistant are not supported. A PI cannot use PSC CUNY funds to purchase their own intellectual property (e.g. published manuscript) or for indirect compensation. Subcontracts are not allowed.

Submitting Supplementary Material

Supplementary material including slides or CDs must be included for creative writing proposals and may be submitted with applications in the creative, visual, and performing arts. Supplementary material attached to proposals in any other discipline will not be reviewed. If a PI intends on submitting supplementary materials, 'Supplementary Material' must be checked off on the application form. Materials up to 2MB may be attached.

Criteria for Evaluation

PSC-CUNY applications will be judged on the following:

  • Scholarly/creative merit of the project.
  • Ability of the applicant to perform the proposed work successfully.
  • Potential for the research to be awarded funding from external agencies.
  • Likelihood that the project will result in work that makes an original contribution to its field.
  • Appropriateness of budget proposal.

When evaluating previous accomplishments, reviewers take into consideration that junior faculty members may be unable to present an extensive record of scholarly/creative merit. Preference is given to junior faculty in the allocation of funds.

Review Process

Applications must be submitted to one of the 18 discipline-based review panels. Each panel is composed of a Chair and four or more additional CUNY faculty members.

Traditional A and Traditional B award proposals are subject to review only by CUNY faculty on the discipline-based panel to which they are submitted. Traditional A and Traditional B applicants may receive (1) specified feedback if the reviewer chooses to elect the ‘Other’ response. Aside from the ‘Other’ selection, Traditional A and Traditional B awards only receive prewritten evaluations selected by the reviewer.

Enhanced award applicants will receive two expert evaluations with the final decision to be made by the UCRA. Only 40-50 Enhanced proposals are awarded each year.

UCRA reserves the right to transfer an application to a different panel if it deems appropriate. An applicant may consult with their CUNY Grants Officer or RFCUNY program administrator for questions about review panels.

Other Considerations

Tenured applicants may only receive two awards in any three year period and only one may be an Enhanced award. Non-tenured faculty members have no such restrictions.

Individuals may apply for only one of the three types of awards in any given year. Faculty are not eligible to apply for or receive a Traditional A or B Award for any year in which they have received or will receive external grant funding or awards of $100,000 or more in direct costs for their research.

Proposals will not be funded for the following:

  • Activities that support the fulfillment of degree requirements.
  • The writing of textbooks.
  • The development of curriculum for specific courses or programs.
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