Seed Grants

Call for Proposals

About ISERP Seed Grants

ISERP seed grants fund a limited number of investigators who seek to undertake major research programs that may require initial results or proof of concept to attract external funding. We provide seed grants for projects pursuing basic social science inquiry, policy related study, or innovative teaching initiatives.

ISERP’s seed grant program has the following goals:
•    To support Columbia investigators in the development of innovative, transformative projects in the social sciences.
•    To provide resources and support to faculty to produce compelling, well-crafted proposals for external funding.
Proposals are evaluated on the intellectual merit and innovation of the proposed project, on the seed grant’s relationship to the proposed major project, on the project’s organization and judicious use of funds, and on the plausibility of the investigator’s plan for seeking outside funding.

Applications for seed grant funding are accepted on a rolling basis. Faculty submitting seed grants can expect to hear back from the ISERP seed grant committee within a month of your submission.

We encourage applicants, particularly those submitting applications for the first time, to speak with a member of ISERP’s research development office. Please email us at for an appointment.


We work with faculty at every career stage to support the development of their research projects through the seed grant program, and then to write, revise, and submit compelling proposals for external funding. We welcome seed grant proposals from faculty in the social sciences and allied fields who are interested in developing  externally-funded projects. We especially encourage early-career faculty to apply.  Applicants must be full-time faculty members. (Reference: Columbia’s PI eligibility requirements.)  If you have grants housed in another department or center at Columbia, please contact us before applying for ISERP seed grant funding.

Funding Criteria

The ISERP seed grant program places a priority on high-risk, high-return research, including work that develops new theories, identifies new areas of methodological innovation, or that bridges different substantive domains. Projects may be domestic, international, or comparative.

ISERP seed grants do not fund book write-ups, documentary films, or ordinary computer equipment. The seed grant program is not a small grant program. Seed grants do not fund stand-alone projects, ongoing research, conferences or conference travel, or workshops. ISERP seed grants will not provide salary support, including summer salary, for faculty members.

Budgets for ISERP Seed Grants

ISERP seed grant funding is typically $3,000 to $10,000 per project and is limited to funding direct costs of research. If you would like to discuss your budget prior to submission of the seed grant application, please contact

Submission Checklist

•    Proposal narrative of no more than five single space pages of text (see notes on this document below);
•    Line item budget;
•    Budget narrative explaining how line items in the budget relate to the early work you need to convert your ideas into a fundable project;
•    Plan for seeking outside funding;
•    CVs (or NIH-style BioSketches) for each investigator.

Notes on Proposal Narrative

The proposal narrative should include the following:

•    What is the question that you address?
•    What is the thesis you advance or test?
•    How do we gauge the importance of the question you address?
•    What methods will you use to answer the question?
•    What is novel, relative to existing work, in your approach?

Figures or tables don’t count against the page maximum (no more than five single space pages of text).

Application Process

Please submit your application as a single, complete PDF file to  Applications for seed grant funding are accepted on a rolling basis. Faculty submitting seed grants can expect to hear back from the ISERP seed grant committee within a month of your submission.

If Your Project is Funded: Timeline, IRB, and Reporting

Research projects involving human subjects must obtain (and keep up to date) Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. If your project involves no intervention or interaction with human subjects, you must apply for exemption from the IRB. We will review and consider proposals that have not yet undergone IRB review, but please note that ISERP will not disburse funds until we have received a copy of your project’s IRB approved protocol or IRB letter of exemption. We strongly encourage you to start the process of obtaining IRB approval early. See also: Columbia's IRB web site.

Seed grant recipients must provide brief semi-annual reports on project activities, including updates on external funding proposals.  At the six-month mark, a brief report will be requested and reviewed by the ISERP Executive Committee. Continued access to the seed funds after this six-month mark requires significant progress, so that the project is likely to lead to a proposal at the next round of submissions at the appropriate funding agency.

Investigators who receive external grants based on work resulting from an ISERP seed grant award must administer those grants through ISERP. Please contact us at before applying for a seed grant if your grants are administered through another school or department. Investigators should acknowledge ISERP’s support in any papers, publications, or reports resulting from seed grant activities.