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I have two tenure track assistant professor offers from two US schools, close in university ranking to each other (US news) but one is R1 and the other is R2.

I’m more inclined to the R2 offer. I am wondering if the status of the university (R1/R2) makes any difference to the funding agencies, national and private, IOW, if my (future) proposals will be viewed differently.

For context: department CS, area AI. The departmental ranking (again from USnews) is significantly higher in the R1 than the R2 one.

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    Note that the difference between R1 and R2 schools isn't quality. It is scope and scale. R1's have strong research requirements in many fields, R2's in fewer. An R2 can have an excellent research reputation in some field, even a single field, and not others.
    – Buffy
    Commented Mar 4 at 11:40

2 Answers 2

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R1s are not preferred over R2s (unless you propose something that your institution does not have the facilities to support). The trade-off will likely be the difference in grad students you can recruit and expectations for tenure. I've been on multiple federal grant review panels and the institution ranking or classification has never been discussed, and panels are in fact explicitly told to be aware of and avoid implicit bias towards institutions (positive or negative).

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Research admin here who has supported AI folks in CS at an R1 institution for 8 years. There will never be a straight up preference from the government. Their "preference" is for well-scoped, well-run projects, with a thoughtful budget. There are specifically calls geared towards PUIs (Primarily Undergraduate Institutions). Does your institution have the resources to support you in this way? Only you will know. You should consider what "well-supported" means. For some that is a facilities deal. They might broker an amazing lab remodel at an R2 and a nice startup package also. I worked at an R2 that provided all gases for the Chemistry dept. That is unheard of at the R1 I work at now--simply crazy talk. When liquid helium was $1,500 a pop, that meant a lot to the PIs I worked for. On the other hand, there were other resources that they lacked, like more focused research admin and faculty support staff.

If anything was going to sway you on the status of your organization, I would look up its FDP status. FDP institutions have easier grant terms because they subject themselves to rigorous auditing. I would also look to see if they have a generative AI policy. Institutions that already have a policy are forward-thinking and organized. You may feel "restricted" by policies, but as an administrator, I find them freeing. It means someone has looked at all the laws and set boundaries for the community. You don't have to know the law to obey the law... if you follow the policies.

If you are serious about digging into the differences between institutions and funding, there are a few public data sources to look at. Specifically consider:

HERD Survey

NSF By The Numbers

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    I'd include that there are a few NSF opportunities which have support of PI's at R2's amongst their (positive) criteria.
    – user176372
    Commented Apr 11 at 19:27

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