Grant Programs Offered

In 2018, the Foundation awarded $9.5 million to the University, its faculty and researchers. The purpose of these grants is to strengthen research, develop new technologies, and contribute to Michigan State University’s scholarly infrastructure of teaching and deployment of knowledge.

Essential to the grant program is close collaboration with MSU’s Provost and the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation. They work with the Foundation board to set grant-making objectives, provide counsel to the board on special grants, and administer a substantial portion of the grants program.

The majority of the Foundation’s grants are allocated through the following programs:

  • Strategic Partnership Grants
  • Capacity Building Grants
  • Humanities and Arts Research Program
  • Discretionary Funding Initiative
  • MSU Foundation Professorships
MSU faculty and researchers wishing to apply for Foundation grants will find all pertinent information on the webpage of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.

Strategic Partnership Grants

The Strategic Partnership Grants (SPG) program provides seed funding for major projects in key areas of research, scholarship and creative activities.

Michigan State University recognizes the value of supporting and nurturing faculty engaging in leading-edge research and scholarship initiatives. These initiatives must be of a caliber that positions the faculty to compete for significant external funding, including the development of research ideas with significant commercial potential. These projects typically involve multiple investigators and the support of new collaborations is strongly encouraged. Some of these initiatives may have strong potential to develop into a center or institute-level research program.

We recognize that there is enormous potential for advances to be made when knowledge is generated and combined in new ways. The SPG program focuses on opportunities that are leading-edge, interdisciplinary or futuristic, and capitalizes on the existing intellectual capital at Michigan State University. The SPG program is a demonstration of the MSU Foundation’s mission to support the development of new knowledge and centers of excellence at the university, and to invest in the development of Michigan State University as one of the nation’s leading research institutions.

Proposals for new and innovative research initiatives are solicited. The program will not support requests for incremental research/scholarship, single investigator grant development, or the extension of ongoing supported programs.

The program is organized in two parts; pre-proposals are open for university-wide competition, while full proposals will be invited based on the review of the pre- proposals.

The key SPG program goals are to support the initial development of:

  • new multidisciplinary and multi-investigator projects that foster highly innovative or conceptually creative research and scholarship,
  • projects that have the potential for generating significant external funding,
  • projects that have the potential to position MSU as a nationally and internationally recognized leader in a particular research area,
  • projects that have potential to yield significant intellectual property and commercial potential for the university,
  • projects that complement the research and scholarship priorities established within departments and colleges.

The maximum funding will be $400K total for projects of up to three years duration. All projects will require a 20% match from departments of colleges.


The SPG program is open to:

  • Full time tenured and tenure-track faculty
  • Faculty with uninterrupted, multi-year, fixed term appointments in academic departments (faculty with visiting or adjunct appointments are not eligible)
  • Fixed term faculty and academic specialists with one year appointments who are able to obtain written confirmation from their departmental chair that they will be appointed through the duration of the grant (letters from the chair should be uploaded as part of the project description)
  • Academic specialists in the continuing appointment system who have the majority of their effort in the research category

Each investigator will be asked to provide an up-to-date vita and complete a current and pending support form.

Pre-Proposal Evaluation Process

Panels appointed by the ORI comprised of MSU faculty will review the pre-proposals and recommend which should be invited to submit full proposals. The selection of applicants to be invited to submit full proposals will engage the panel chairs, the Council of Research Deans (CORD), and the ORI.

Review Criteria 

Review criteria will include assessment of:

  • Scope and Significance: Does this project address an important problem? If its aims are achieved, how will scientific, cultural, or artistic knowledge be advanced? What will be the effect on the concepts or methods that drive this field?
  • Prominence and Leadership: Does the stature, experience and track record of the investigators indicate a high probability for development of the project into an area of prominence and leadership?
  • Leveraging Additional Resources: Does this project clearly define how it will use grant funds to obtain external funding or national and international recognition?
  • Arts and Humanities: In cases where extramural support is not commonly available for an activity in these areas, does the proposal demonstrate how greater distinction to the proposed initiative and to the University will ensue through dissemination or presentation in significant venues or publications?
  • Value Added: Can the proposed research or scholarship be achieved at MSU in the absence of SPG support? Why is this a good investment for MSU? Is there a strong probability that this project will lead to external support?
  • Competitive Landscape: What is the competitive landscape for this particular work? Does MSU have an advantage?

The SPG program is administered by Michigan State University.

Capacity Building Grants

This program is directed and administered by the MSU Provost and Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. It encompasses a broad spectrum of University interests in research, teaching and outreach. These grants range from $10,000 to $200,000. They are used to leverage other MSU resources to provide required externally funded grant matches and cost-shares, faculty recruitment and laboratory setup packages, faculty retention packages, as well as assistance in the limited support of a handful of University centers of excellence.

Humanities and Arts Research Program

The Humanities and Arts Research Program (HARP) provides funding for creative and performance projects and funds for use in the arts and humanities area.

HARP Development

Provides funds to support faculty who are conducting important research leading to creative and performance projects or activities in the arts and humanities. This limited funding is designed to support faculty in the development of projects that seem likely to enhance the reputation of the faculty member and the university.

HARP Production

Provides funds, when research is complete, to help subsidize the costs of book publication, permissions to use copyrighted materials, CD recording and production, the creation and mounting of exhibits, and other expenses associated with producing the results of a complete creative or research project.

The DFI program provides bridge funds for tenure-stream faculty for additional studies needed for resubmission of a grant application to the same funding agency.