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RTI University Scholars Program

Creating opportunities for researchers to pair with experts to solve research challenges

RTI University Scholars Program participants meet at our headquarters in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Creating opportunities for researchers to pair with experts to solve research challenges

Since 2014, the RTI University Scholars Program has provided support for distinguished academic researchers to spend scholarly leave time at RTI International to actively collaborate with our experts. The program, administered by the University Collaboration Office, is designed to drive growth, foster collaboration, build scientific stature, and develop opportunities for externally funded joint projects. A list of current and former RTI University Scholars is available.

Submitting Expressions of Interest to the RTI University Scholars Program

The RTI University Scholars Program invites Expressions of Interest for the 2024-2025 academic year from tenured or research-track faculty members at the Associate Professor level or higher with a commitment to collaboration and a research project related to RTI practice areas.

The University Collaboration Office hosted two cohorts of RTI University Scholars from 2021–2023 focused on projects related to racial equity and transformative research. Scholars partnered with RTI researchers on projects related to infant and child health, workforce development, the environment, and more. This two-year focus has begun reshaping the University Scholars Program, with a renewed emphasis on inviting faculty who center equity in their values as researchers, in the process of conducting research, and in the research outcomes — consistent with RTI and Transformative Research Unit for Equity’s approach to rethinking traditional research practices in order to achieve equitable and transformational outcomes.

The RTI University Scholars Program prioritizes proposals for projects related to:

  • Agriculture, food security, and nutrition
  • Climate change, environmental justice, and energy 
  • Data modernization and data science
  • Global health security and pandemic preparedness

While the RTI University Scholars Program welcomes Expressions of Interest based on collaborative interdisciplinary research projects, or “clusters,” applicants need to apply individually. Application evaluations are based on the merits of the individual as well as the project. To advance excellence and diversity, RTI encourages applications from underrepresented faculty.


The RTI University Scholars Program invites Expressions of Interest from faculty from the University of North Carolina System’s 16 universities and from Duke University. The program is designed for tenured or research-track faculty members at the Associate Professor level or higher, who are eligible for scholarly leave or sabbatical, and interested in collaborating with RTI researchers.

Applicants must partner with RTI staff who serve as a host or hosts and co-create a collaborative research project to pursue during the scholar’s appointment.

Financial Support for Scholars

The RTI University Collaboration Office covers:

  • Half of each selected scholar’s salary and fringe (with the other half covered by the scholar’s home institution)
  • Direct costs for supplies, publications, and other expenses, such as conference registrations, typically with a $5,000 ceiling

These funds are paid directly to the scholar’s university.

Scholars who advance to Phase II will be invited to submit a full proposal with a detailed budget. At this phase, applicants can propose additional expenses discussed with their RTI collaborators pending availability of budget for additional support.

Note that RTI does not cover Facilities and Administrative costs and the program does not cover graduate student stipends or tuition costs.

Key Dates for the 2024-2025 Application Cycle

Dates Important Events
Friday, October 20, 2023 Request for Expressions of Interest and Request for Proposals released
Thursday, January 25, 2024 by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (ET): Deadline to submit Expression of Interest (Phase I)
Thursday, February 22, 2024 Notification to all applicants
Wednesday, March 27, 2024 by 11:59 p.m. ET: Deadline for all invited applicants to submit full proposals
Friday, April 26, 2024 Notification to applicants who submitted Full Proposals


  • Interested applicants are encouraged to notify Katie Bowler Young, rti_univscholarsprog@rti.org, in the RTI University Collaboration Office (UCO) and their university’s research office.
  • Applicants are encouraged to peruse RTI’s website to familiarize themselves with researchers working in the same or similar area. Applicants who need support networking with RTI staff should contact Katie Bowler Young with a brief abstract of their research interest and a bio sketch.
  • Applicants should develop their Expression of Interest in consultation and coordination with RTI collaborator(s), who will need to provide a Letter of Support in Phase II.
Expressions of Interest

EOIs must be digitally submitted using the online form no later than 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, January 25, 2024. The EOI does not have a budget requirement. To be fully considered, the EOI must include:

Expression Of Interest Online Form
  • Applicant Information: Name, university affiliation, email address, and faculty web page
  • Institutional Information: Department name, department chair’s name and email address, and any other departmental contacts.
  • Proposal Details: Proposed project title, alignment to RTI’s practice areas and/or service capabilities, proposed RTI collaborator name(s), and proposed start and end dates.
  • PDF upload: A single PDF upload must include:
    • Expression of Interest (2 pages maximum), addressing:
      • Purpose, objectives, activities, deliverables, and expected outcomes of the proposed project
      • Discussion of the proposed projects relevance to RTI practice areas and/or services and capabilities
      • Evidence the applicant has current and/or prior relevant experience as a researcher and collaborator
      • References to external funding opportunities for potential future proposals
    • Letter of support from the applicant’s departmental chair
    • Applicant’s curriculum vitae (no page limit). Please include experience securing funding as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator.
Expression of Interest Evaluation

RTI business and research leaders will review and evaluate EOIs based on the following rubrics:

  • Potential impact of the proposed project
  • Academic qualifications as well as research and publication track record of the applicant
  • Degree to which the proposed research project advances scientific stature
  • Alignment to RTI’s practice areas and/or services and capabilities
  • Evidence that the proposed research could attract large-scale research support by government agencies, corporations, industrial consortia, or foundations
  • Likelihood the proposed research project will be successful and support long-term collaboration between the researcher and RTI
  • Degree to which the proposed project reflects RTI’s commitment to equity in research
Invited Full Proposals

Applicants will be notified by Thursday, February 22, 2024, about whether they will be invited to submit a full proposal.

Questions about the program? Email us today.