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Types of Sponsored Research Activity

Find out what types of awards UC San Diego receives and who to contact for assistance in pre-award administration.

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A gift is a donation to the University of cash or other assets (materials, property) made with charitable intent. It can be restricted for certain purposes but cannot obligate the University to provide any services or resources in return. A gift is awarded irrevocably.


UC San Diego Individual Fellowship Definition

A fellowship is a formal commitment to provide monetary assistance to an individual, usually to support advanced study and training.

Fellowship Criteria

Fellowships that are administered by the University through a Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) will meet the following four criteria:

  1. Merit Based – in response to a competitive application/announcement
  2. Awarded to a Specific Individual – award follows the individual should they leave the University
  3. Mentored – are not an independent investigator and will be guided/hosted by a UC San Diego faculty member in their lab
  4. Intended to enhance an individual’s potential to develop into an independent researcher/scholar

The fellowship definition excludes:

  • Awards to Faculty – these will be classified as grants or contracts
  • Fellowship programs administered by the University where the University picks the fellow(s) – these are classified as grants or contracts
  • Programs or fellowships funded by gifts – administered through the Gifts Processing Office
  • Postdoc Pay Directs and Graduate Students paid directly – these are not administered by the University

Types of Fellowships and Central Offices

Graduate Student Fellowships

The Graduate Division functions as the central office (proposal review/submission and award acceptance) for Graduate Student Fellowships (single-degree seeking Master’s degree and Ph.D. students)

All Other Fellowships

New fellowship proposals for postdoctoral scholars, residents, professional degree students (M.D. or Pharm.D.) or duel degree students (M.D./Ph.D.) will be routed  to the appropriate SPO using the same logic as grants or contracts:


A contract is a legally binding agreement between the University and an external entity, such as a private corporation or a federal agency.A contract sets forth terms, conditions, and costs of research, services, or resources to be delivered by the University to the entity for the entity's direct use or benefit.

  • For awards for academic, scholarly, or research endeavors from private, federal, state, and local government, contact:
  • For clinical trial agreements, contact:
    • For other contracts, agreements, and incoming purchase orders for services, contact:
    • For assistance on agreements for professional medical, patient care, or clinical services, contact UCSD Healthcare Medical Group & Medical Center, (619) 294-3794.


A grant is a legally binding agreement between the University and an external entity, such as a private corporation, non-profit foundation, or federal agency. A grant sets forth terms and conditions by which the external entity assists, supports, or stimulates University research and/ or provides services or other resources. The external entity receives no direct use or benefit of the research, service, or resource. A grant contains restrictions on how the funds are to be used by the University.

Gift vs. Grant: To help determine the difference between gifts and grants.

Incoming service agreement

A service agreement is a legally binding agreement between the University and an external entity, such as a private corporation or federal agency. An incoming service agreement sets forth the terms and conditions pertaining to specific goods or services to be provided by the University.

For more information visit Incoming Service Agreements.

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