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 and policy related study.  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 in response to calls for proposals during the academic year.


ISERP will 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 who are interested in developing externally-funded projects.  We especially encourage early-career faculty to apply.  Applicants must be full-time faculty members with appointments (not just affiliations) in a social science department within Arts & Sciences or SIPA.  Should you have grants housed in another department or center at Columbia, please contact us before applying for ISERP seed grant funding. All PIs must play an active role in the proposed project.

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 up to $40k 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 [email protected]

 Funding 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. 

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.  A final report will be required by May 31 and/or November 30 contingent on the award cycle.  Awardees will also be asked to present a talk on their project.

Investigators who receive external grants based on work resulting from an ISERP seed grant award must administer those grants through ISERP.  Investigators should acknowledge ISERP’s support in any papers, publications, or reports resulting from seed grant activities.