Grant Application Steps

Below is a general guideline for the steps that should be taken when going through a grant application process. These steps do not need to be completed in this exact order, but keep in mind the suggested and hard deadlines that should be followed and met.

Typically, only NSF and NIH grant applications have to go through Sparta. If you are applying for a different grant, such as Wenner-Gren, you can skip the Sparta steps.

Where to start:

  • Meet with your advisor and discuss grants for which you wish to apply. No grant application should be undertaken without your advisors knowledge and approval.

Check to see what the requirements are for the grant application. Consider the following:

  • When is the funding entity’s deadline for submission?
  • Do you need letters (recommendation, affiliation)?
  • Do you need to submit a budget?
  • Do you need your advisor’s CV?
  • What is the funder’s page limit?


  • Be prepared to complete your application earlier than the final deadline, keeping in mind it may need to be submitted through Sparta (see Step 5). Some grants, such as Fulbright, have an internal university deadline that is earlier than the national deadline. Be sure to check for both.
  • Ask for letters one month in advance of the funding entity’s deadline
  • Budgets should be submitted three weeks prior to funding entity’s deadline if you wish it to be reviewed by Linda

Setting deadlines:

  • Work with your advisor and set personal deadlines for drafts to be reviewed.

What needs to be finalized:

  • Complete IRB CREC training and Conflict of Interest forms.


  • This should be completed prior to submitting anything to Linda to go through Sparta, or submitting directly to the funding entity.

Turn in information to the office:

  • Fill out the “Sparta Info Sheet” (also in this packet) and give it to Linda so that your application can be submitted through Sparta.


  • Answer the check list questions and provide documents to Linda 15 days before the funding entity’s deadline for an NSF or NIH grant. Sparta is not the final submission of the grant, but rather an internal system for the university to know what grants have been submitted. 

Time to submit:

  • Submit your application per the funding entity’s requirements. For NSF this is FastLane, NIH is, and most others have their own online portals. Some, like Wenner-Gren, also require paper copies sent in the mail. Be aware of this as well.

Be aware of deadline time:

  • It is best to submit earlier than the last possible day. Also keep in mind timestamp deadlines, and what time zone, if submitting on the last day (i.e. 11:59 PM)

What next:

  • Work on the IRB.

IRB deadline:

  • Discuss with your advisor when this should be completed. You do not have to have a completed IRB to submit any applications, but you do need to have it finished to receive funding.