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Office of Grants and Sponsored Projects

Office of Grants and Sponsored Projects

The Office of Grants and Sponsored Projects (OGSP), in coordination with the Graduate School at Northcentral University, encourages faculty and staff to seek external funding to support research activities, enrich teaching and professional learning, advance knowledge and scholarship, and develop innovative programs that meet the needs of our students.

The OGSP provides university-wide leadership, guidance and support to faculty and staff on internal grants and awards, external grants, research, and professional development opportunities that advance the vision, mission, and goals of Northcentral University. Working alongside leadership, faculty, and staff, the OGSP is a key partner in NCU’s vision as a premier online graduate University. We value the diversity of our team members and the opportunity to come together around initiatives that enhance our programs, enrich the student experience, and impact the larger community and world around us.

Our Mission

The Office of Grants and Sponsored Projects upholds the mission, values, and goals prioritized by NCU’s Strategic Plan and established Pillars of Excellence. With a focus on collaboration and partnerships at the core of our work, our mission is to enhance institutional capacity and growth, support scholarly research and innovation, expand student access and opportunity, and provide guidance and resources that contribute to and reflect the diversity and quality of University programs and services.

Services and Support

The OGSP provides guidance and facilitates the pre and post award processes by offering a range of services and resources designed to make the grant process an enjoyable one - with many opportunities to learn, develop, and achieve success as a university team.

The pre-award process generally includes grant project/idea conception, fund prospecting, application development and review, and final submission of the grant application to the funding agency. The OGSP offers the following pre-award services to NCU faculty and staff engaged in extramural research activities.

Pre-Award Services & Support

  • Funding Research
  • Project Planning & Development
  • Writing and Editing Support
  • Proposal Routing & Submission

  • The post-award process takes place after an award has been issued by a grantor and represents a significant amount of work and responsibility for the PI/PD over the duration of the project. Post-award services are designed to support successful grant implementation and management. The OGSP provides post-award services and support to NCU faculty and staff during project implementation through grant close-out.

    Post-Award Services & Support

  • Implementation Support
  • Technical Assistance
  • Interim/Final Reporting Review
  • Project Close-Out Support
  • Proposal Review and Award Process

    Proposals for grants and sponsored projects shall not be submitted to the Sponsor without prior approval of the President of the University or the President’s designee (Provost), Dean of Graduate School, Chief Financial Officer, and the Director of the Office of Grants and Sponsored Projects. Approvals are obtained upon receipt of a Notice of Intent to Apply Form which initiates the review process circulated through an electronic grant management platform.

    Additional approvals shall include the appropriate Dean/AVP, Chair or Director, and other individuals as needed for review. Principal Investigators/Project Directors are strongly encouraged to discuss interest in funding opportunities with department and school leadership. Ideas and concepts leading to funding applications are expected to have buy-in, support, and input from leadership early in the process to ensure all grants and sponsored project proposals reflect department and University priorities.

    The OGSP works closely with assigned Principal Investigators and Project Directors throughout the project cycle to ensure adherence to Sponsor requirements and compliance with relevant University policies and procedures.


    Awards & Impact

    Northcentral University is proud to highlight projects, awards, and sponsoring organizations that have resulted in scholarly research and contributions, advances in knowledge and innovation, and the creation of models of practice that serve to inform and enhance the people, communities, and world around us.


    2022 John Templeton Grant Award Recipient

    The Cognitive Neuroscience of Religious Cognition

    Sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation awarded Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and Northcentral University (NCU) a $6.3 million grant to study the neuroscience of religious experience. The three-year project is co-led by Principal Investigators, Dr. Jordan Grafman at Northwestern University and Dr. Patrick McNamara at NCU. The purpose of the project is to explore and establish how the brain correlates various forms of religious cognition and experience. Project outputs include a curated grant competition wherein McNamara and Grafman will call for and evaluate grant proposals from other researchers on the brain and religion; a series of fMRI neuroimaging studies on over 100 religiously diverse participants; and a series of studies handled by McNamara’s where 150 participants will be recruited from Jerusalem, Chicago, and Boston for qualitative interviews and intensive data collection to be digitized and wirelessly transmitted to the NCU research team. The overarching ambition of the project is to gain a better understanding of the neural mediation of relational theistic belief, as well as the brain basis of religious cognition more generally, and place the neuroscientific study of religious cognition on a firm scientific foundation. For more information, please read the NCU press release.


    2020 Delphi Award Recipient

    Supporting Adjuncts from a Distance: Adjuncts as Subject Matter Experts & Valued Members of the Northcentral University Community

    The Delphi Award, sponsored by the University of Southern California’s Pullias Center for Higher Education recognized NCU as an institution with “exemplary campus practices, policies, and programs or services that enable faculty (especially adjunct, contingent, and non-tenure track) to nurture student success.” NCU’s support of part-time faculty has been institutionalized as an annual award titled the NCU Academic Excellence Delphi Award and is committed to funding the Award by annually recognizing part-time professors who demonstrate excellence in academic performance and the promotion of student success. Awardees of the Academic Excellence Delphi Award receive a $500 cash award and are recognized at NCU’s Annual Faculty Symposium.


    2019 Innovation Grant Program Recipient

    Sponsored by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) “Mixed Reality Simulation (MRS)”

    The pilot project, Consumers’ Perceptions of Relational Telehealth: Proponents, Critics, and Diverse Voices seeks to evaluate the experience of families who have participated in online family therapy prior to and during the health pandemic due to the novel Coronavirus. The impact of the novel Coronavirus on the lives of people worldwide cannot be understated, and telehealth, while not new, has experienced an explosion of use both due to therapists’ needing to move their practices online for health and safety reasons, but also due to the increase in need for those experiencing mental health challenges during the global pandemic. Project outcomes at the close of the study will assess consumer perceptions, provide guidance and information on diagnosis challenges, and provide both qualitative and quantitative research that support or refute the use of tele-health services.


    2019 Academic Library Impact Research Grant Recipient

    Sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries

    The Library Impact on Online-only Graduate Student Success project evaluated the effect early program instruction and contact with library professionals and resources has on success metrics for students in online-only graduate programs at a regionally accredited nonprofit online institution. Building on previous work at NCU and throughout the field, the project leveraged a unique environment with robust support for incorporating library assessment into the institutional landscape that provided both process and outcome data to the wider library community. As online graduate education continues to expand, outcomes of this project provide a model for other library practitioners as they demonstrate their value and impact in higher education.

    Internal Faculty Grants

    The Office of Grants and Sponsored Projects is committed to supporting faculty and staff and encourages engagement in new research and scholarly activities. The Graduate School at NCU offers several internal research funding opportunities and honoraria. These include Faculty Research Awards (FRAs); honoraria funds to recognize faculty, staff, and student research publications, poster sessions, and conference presentations. Availability of funds is subject to annual budget approvals, subsequent distribution to, and usage by faculty, staff, and students.

    Additionally, micro-funding opportunities are available to NCU full-time faculty interested in funding new research efforts and supporting a selected research project. Internal faculty micro-funding applications are accepted throughout the year and reviewed in coordination with the Graduate School. Awards are dependent on fund availability, budget approval, and complexity of grant application requirements. Proposal writing is the responsibility of the faculty member, with guidance and support provided by the OGSP.

    NCU’s Grant Committee

    The NCU Institutional Grant Committee (IGC) is responsible for setting the research agenda for the University and is instrumental in identifying and developing new research program ideas, providing guidance to projects in the early stages of development, and serving as representatives for respective disciplines and/or departments. The IGC is comprised of leadership and faculty members who serve on a yearly basis. Meetings are held quarterly to support continuous focus and commitment to university-wide initiatives centered around institutional goals and research priorities.

    Pursue Grants and Conduct Research with NCU

    Northcentral University (NCU) is a student-centric, regionally accredited, nonprofit premier online graduate university and a global leader in providing unprecedented access to U.S. regionally accredited higher education. NCU values partnerships across industries and fields that enhance public and private collaborations, contribute to organizations and communities, grow innovation, and provide learning and leadership opportunities for students.

    NCU is open to research partnerships that expand research goals as a university, while benefiting outside organizations and communities. Benefits of partnering with NCU in pursuing grants and conducting research include:

  • Opportunities for co-investigative partnerships with university lead
  • Access to research and subject matter experts across disciplines
  • Diversity of academic programming to address student needs
  • Innovations in practice and academia
  • Increasing school to career pathways for students
  • Valued partnerships dedicated to serving communities in need

  • Northcentral University is comprised of six schools where research is conducted and where partnerships are being pursued with the leadership of the Office of Grants and Sponsored Projects. These schools include:


    Interested partners should contact the Office of Grants and Sponsored Projects for more information. Partnership opportunities may be at the local, state, regional, or federal levels, and should align with the NCU’s Mission, Vision, Values and Strategic Plan.

    Policies & Procedures

    The Office of Grants and Sponsored Projects staff, working in coordination with the Graduate School, shall ensure compliance with applicable government regulations, NCU policies, and sponsor guidelines regarding proposal submission and award management. This procedure applies to grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, subawards, and letters of intent. General procedures for eligibility, submission, award acceptance, project close-out, and file maintenance are listed below. Policies regarding Conflict of Interest, Responsible Conduct of Research, Sexual Harassment, and Time and Effort Reporting can be found in the NCU Policy and Procedures Manual (PPM). Principal Investigators and Project Directors are encouraged to fully review all applicable policies and procedures prior to engaging in extramural sponsored activities.

    Eligibility to Apply for Externally Sponsored Projects

    A Principal Investigator/Project Director on a grant received by Northcentral University must serve in one of the following roles at the university:

  • Full time faculty members: Full Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor
  • Part time faculty members: Distinguished Core Adjunct Professor, Senior Core Adjunct Professor, Core Adjunct Professor, Probationary Adjunct Professor
  • School and Department leadership
  • Full time and part time departmental staff (e.g., Center for Teaching and Learning, Academic Success Center, Library)

  • All the above university employees must have the approval of their supervisor in order to serve as a Principal Investigator/Project Director. Furthermore, all applicants must meet eligibility requirements and submission limits of the specific opportunity and/or sponsor.


    The University is always the applicant or sponsoring institution. Principal Investigators and Project Directors are not authorized to submit proposals on behalf of the University without approval from the Office of Grants and Sponsored Projects (OGSP). Federally funded grant and sponsored project applications will always be submitted through the OGSP. In this submission situation, the OGSP will facilitate all aspects of the electronic submission. Submissions prepared for state, foundation, and private corporations will be determined by the OGSP working closely with the PI/PD. The OGSP will be responsible for all submissions unless otherwise expressed by the funding agency or decided upon by the OGSP.

    Award Notification and Acceptance

    Acceptance of a grant or sponsored project award is a binding legal contract that creates a legal duty on the part of the grantee, in this case NCU, to use the funds in accordance with the conditions of the grant and the original proposal. Principal Investigators and Project Directors (PI/PDs) are responsible for many duties outlined in the post award process and are encouraged to consult with the OGSP to ensure project compliance.

    After review and approval from the PI/PD, the OGSP will route the grant award package to NCU authorized designees for signature, approval, and return a fully executed copy to the funding agency. All documents will be retained on file with the University.

    Project Conclusion and Close Out

    Beginning at least ninety (90) days prior to the end of the grant term, the PI/PD will alert the CFO/Accounting Office of the impending closeout. This action officially notifies internal departments and begins the process, whereby the PI/PD, OGSP, and Accounting Office will collaborate to ensure all requirements and deliverables are met according to the terms and conditions of the award. The OGSP will route a Grant Award Closeout Checklist to be used to monitor the completion of tasks leading up to the grant deadline. PI/PDs are encouraged to consult with the OGSP with issues or questions, and ensure all financials, reports, and documentation are in place.

    File Management

    The purpose of file management is to ensure compliance with funding agencies, limit exposure to legal liability, and maintain institutional record of sponsored activities and projects. In accordance with state and federal policy regarding file retention, the University maintains programmatic files for five years and will comply with each funder’s file retention term requirement as necessary. If any litigation, claim, or audit is started prior to the standard retention period, records shall be retained until all litigation, claims, or audits have been resolved. The OGSP will maintain a master file for each University grant application. The PI/PD will ensure all files are provided for the University master file.

    Contact Us

    Departments across Northcentral University collaborate to ensure faculty and staff have access to resources that support academic research and grant activities. For questions and inquiries related to grants, contracts, and externally funded projects, please contact:

    Office of Grants and Sponsored Projects
    (480) 253-4623

    For questions and inquiries related to graduate research and compliance, please contact:

    Graduate School

    Graduate Research Department

    Research Compliance

    Institutional Review Board


    2019 Academic Library Impact Research Grant from Association of College & Research Libraries

    “Library impact on Online-only Graduate Student Success” Amanda Ziegler


    AAMFT 2019 Mixed Reality Simulation Training Grant

    Awarded to Northcentral University’s COAMFTE-accredited Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT) Program.


    The Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education

    Delphi Award for 2020 Supporting Adjuncts from a Distance: Adjuncts as Subject Matter Experts & Valued Members of the Northcentral University Community.