Sponsored Programs

Sponsored programs are projects or activities that are funded by an external organization such as a federal, state, county, or city organization. The following elements determine whether external funding falls within the definition of a sponsored program.

Commitment from an External Sponsor

Sponsored programs require a written commitment from the sponsor that follows receipt and acceptance of a proposal. The commitment may take various forms, such as a grant agreement, contract, purchase order, or a letter of award. All federal funds, including funds passing through other sponsors, must be administered as sponsored programs. Funds may also come from state or local government, business and industry, or not-for-profit organizations, including associations, foundations, and other universities.

Under no circumstances may project work proceed without a formal commitment in writing from an external sponsor. Under certain circumstances the project may proceed when a pre-award spending agreement between the SJSU Research Foundation and the SJSU academic unit (department and college) have been established.

Project-Specific Activities and Use of Funds

A sponsored program consists of funded projects covering a range of project-specific activities as defined by the sponsoring agency. The overall indicator that an activity is a sponsored project is that the sponsor provides support for a specific activity, and the activity delivers something back to the sponsor. This indicator along with restrictions on the use of funds awarded by the sponsor will trigger the creation of a sponsored programs account.

Faculty or Staff Leadership

Each program involves a faculty or staff member qualified to serve as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator who provides leadership in determining, proposing, and completing the activities of the project.


The terms and conditions of any award documents must be reviewed before acceptance and must comply with the university and sponsor’s policies and regulations, and all applicable laws. Sponsors have the authority to conduct reviews and audits of programs for fiscal and programmatic compliance. The Research Foundation is also required to undergo the Single Audit (formerly the A-133 Audit) annually, and the CSU Chancellor’s Office Audit at regular intervals.

Period of Performance

Each program or contract has its own longevity, with specific starting and ending dates. It is critically important to note that work may not proceed prior to the designated start date or go beyond the designated end date without the specific authority established via a pre-award spending agreement or a no-cost extension. Such authority rests entirely between the SJSU Research Foundation, the external sponsor, and the SJSU academic unit (department chair and college dean).

Work Products – Final Reports, Products, or Other Deliverables

At the conclusion of a sponsored program work products usually include one or more deliverables. Deliverables may include anything to which both parties have agreed in advance, and may take the form of tangible products, written progress reports, or financial reports. Examples of required deliverables include videos or DVDs, material formulations, reports of results or surveys, works of art, software, DNA sequences or curricular materials, manuscripts, sample analysis data, workshops and seminars.

Deliverables such as these and other forms of intellectual property may be subject to patent, copyright, or other statutory protection, and are subject to the guidelines defined in the SJSU Academic Senate Policy F98-3 Intellectual and Creative Property Policy [pdf]. To read full policy details visit the Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities web on the SJSU Academic Senate website.