Proposal Submissions

All proposals for external funding should be received by Research Administrative Services (RAS) at least 5 business days prior to the agency submission deadline. Submission of proposals through a single office enables Howard University to review proposals for consistency with University policies and compliance with external regulations.

VP for Research Memo to the Deans and Associate Deans for Research (May 2018)

Learn how to submit proposals through the electronic signature and routing process via DocuSign® here.


Office of Research Protocol for Proposal Submissions

The Office of Research requires all proposals to be submitted through the Research Administrative Services (RAS) unit. Research Administrative Services (RAS) has the sole authority to submit proposals for Howard University on behalf of the Principal Investigator (PI) or Project Director (PD). DocuSign is the main institutional platform through which said proposals are to be submitted.

By submitting the proposal, both Howard University and the PI/PD agree to follow the sponsor's guidelines that include, but are not limited to, the monitoring of expenditures, invoicing, and the submission of financial reports. PI/PDs are strongly encouraged to notify their assigned Research Administrator (RA) if they are planning to submit a proposal in the near future.

Please note: The Office of Research may turn down an award for a proposal that has been submitted in violation of the protocol that is delineated above.


How to Request Sponsor System Access

Many sponsor electronic submission systems, registration is required by the Office of Research - Research Administrative Services (RAS) on behalf of the University. Therefore, it is essential that you reach out to RAS as soon as possible to advise your Assigned Research Administrator of your intent to submit a proposal. Your notification should include the sponsor name, due date as well as method of submission. Some sponsors also require registrations for the Principal Investigator (PI) and key personnel in addition to the University.

  • eRA Commons: The PI and key personnel must have eRA Commons ID's in order to submit proposals to NIH for federal. To request access to eRA Commons, please complete the NIH eRA Commons Account Application located at Research Tools and email to
  • Before applying for a funding opportunity in, the PI needs to register an account with at Once the PI has a account, the PI will need to add a profile to associate the account with the applicant organization (Howard University). To request that your access to is approved, please complete the Account Registration form located at Research Tools and email to 
  • NSF Fastlane/ The PI must have an NSF ID in order to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for federal funding. To request access to NSF Fastlane/, please complete the NSF Fastlane Registration form located at Research Tools and email to After completing the form proceed to and click Register to create an NSF Account.


How to Submit a Proposal


It is important to provide Research Administrative Services with adequate time to review and prepare all proposal documents prior to the submission of the proposal. The proposal and all supporting documents should be received by Research Administrative Services at least 5 business days prior to the submission deadline date, in the same format required by the sponsor (please note VP for Research Memo link above). When proposals are submitted to Research Administrative Services for review, the documents must be in final form and uploaded to the electronic signature and routing process (Application to seek off-campus funds via DocuSign®). A proposal in "final form" is complete and contains all necessary sponsor and internal University forms and documentation.

Please make sure to obtain and utilize a proposal submission checklist. Incomplete proposals WILL NOT be accepted for review!


What Happens After You Submit Your Proposal

The Seven Steps in Proposal Submission

  1. Once the proposal, and all necessary documentation, is received by Research Administrative Services, the Administrative Aide (AA) assigns an identification number to the proposal and conducts an initial review to ensure that all required documents are included.
  2. The AA logs the proposal into the Pre-Award Database and then distributes the proposal to the appropriate Research Administrator (RA).
  3. The RA reviews the proposal and required documents to ensure they are complete and accurate.
  4. The RA works with the PI/PD to resolve any outstanding issues prior to proposal submission.
  5. The authorized signatory performs the final review of the proposal and signs the proposal on behalf of the University.
  6. The Vice President for Research approves the proposal.
  7. The RA submits electronic proposals to the sponsoring entity.

However, the PI/PD submits hardcopy proposals to the sponsoring entity with a request to have the award notification sent to Research Administrative Services.


Please see Proposal Development and Submission Policy 600-003.