Skip to main content
Vanderbilt Background Photo

Research Funding Guidelines


The College of Arts and Science makes Faculty Research Funding available to support and facilitate faculty professional activities (research and teaching). These guidelines outline the categories and procedures for research expenditures.


Research funds provided by the College of Arts and Science may be used to support reasonable expenses that advance faculty scholarship. Funds may not be used for personal, nonprofessional purposes. If reimbursement is being paid for by an external funding source, such as an agency, sponsor, or foundation, it is the responsibility of the individual faculty member to determine if expenses are allowed by the funder. If a faculty member has any questions about the appropriateness of an expense, s/he should consult with their department or program administrator prior to incurring the expense. The department or program administrator should consult with their SAO, when necessary.

Research funds are Vanderbilt University funds, and materials purchased with these funds are the property of Vanderbilt University. Upon leaving the university, a faculty member will be required to return all equipment purchased with his/her research funds and may be required to return materials purchased with such funds. Unexpended funds at the time of a faculty member's departure from the university will revert to the college.

Examples of Potential Uses

This list is not exhaustive:

  • Research materials (books, media, journal subscriptions)
  • Equipment (computers, printers, lab equipment) used for research
  • Services related to research (lab construction/renovation, clerical, technical, research assistance)
  • Research-related travel for the faculty member
  • Expenses related to visiting scholars (travel, lodging, food, honoraria)
  • Expenses incurred in connection with the recruitment of graduate students (travel, lodging, food)

Appropriate personnel procedures must be followed for any salary expenditures and A&S reimbursement procedures must be followed for other expenditures (see below).

Examples of Prohibited Uses

This list is not exhaustive:

  • Furniture or furnishings not used for research
  • Gifts of any type
  • Home internet service
  • Personal websites hosted externally
  • Clothing and/or luggage (including briefcases)
  • Travel expenses for family who accompany the faculty member on research-related travel
  • Salary for the faculty member or to a family member
  • Personal vehicle equipment or fuel (though mileage allowance for research usage or travel to professional meetings is permissible)
  • Cell phones or personal electronics
Research Funding Sources

The College of Arts and Science makes research funding available to faculty in various ways, including the provision of startup packages. Faculty may request information at any time about remaining balances of research funds available to them by contacting their department or program administrators.

Research funding is made available on an annual basis to some faculty through their departments or programs. Full-status tenured and tenure-track faculty who are research active1 and do not have access to sufficient research funds are eligible to receive reimbursements for research expenses up to $5,000 annually. Unspent funds are not carried over from year to year. A faculty member whose available research funds fall below $5,000 in a given fiscal year will be provided with “top up” funds to bring the amount of available funds to $5,000 at the beginning of the next fiscal year.

Procedural Guidelines

Before committing funds or requesting reimbursement for research expenses, faculty members should review the College of Arts and Science Travel and Expense Reimbursement Policy and the Vanderbilt University Reimbursement Policy. In cases where college guidelines differ from university policy, the more restrictive policy takes precedence.

Funds are disbursed in several different ways. Large expenses should be directly billed to Vanderbilt through normal university purchasing methods. For smaller expenses, a faculty member normally turns in receipts to receive reimbursement, indicating the purpose of the expenditure along with each receipt. Requests for research expense reimbursements will be approved by departments and programs before being sent to the Dean’s Office.

Purchases of equipment made with university funds must be delivered to a faculty member’s office or laboratory, not his/her home.

When a faculty member resigns, s/he should consult with his/her department chair/program director about appropriate uses of research funds during the remainder of the contract period and to arrange return of equipment and material purchased with research funds at the end of the employment period.

Research-Related Travel

For reimbursement of research-related travel, A&S faculty must follow guidelines and use procedures outlined in the College of Arts and Science Travel and Expense Reimbursement Policy, which adheres to the Vanderbilt University Reimbursement Policy

1 A faculty member is automatically considered research active unless he/she has received an annual rating of 5 for two consecutive years. If that occurs, the faculty member will need to gain approval to receive research funds from the department chair/program director and the dean.