Development and Scholarship FAQs: Applying for a Sabbatical

Download a pdf format of the guidelines

When do I become eligible for a sabbatical?

According to the Handbook,“a faculty member may be granted a sabbatical leave not more often than once during each seven-year period following the attainment of tenure.” A faculty member may first apply for a sabbatical after the attainment of tenure. 


When do I apply?

An application for a sabbatical leave is submitted early in the fall semester, typically the 3rd Friday of October, of the preceding academic year. Faculty members should anticipate information about the exact date through an email sent out at the start of the academic year.


Where do I submit my application?

Send one electronic copy of your application, CV and letter of endorsement to the current FDSC chair. It would be most helpful to have all information in one PDF file.


What kinds of sabbatical leaves are currently offered?

One can apply to take one semester off at full pay or two semesters off at half-pay. The two kinds of leaves have different advantages in terms of money and time. Some departments prefer a faculty member to take a full-year leave because then a full-year replacement can be found. Others prefer to have the faculty member back as soon as possible. Ultimately, however, it’s the faculty member’s decision as to which kind of leave to take.


What does a complete sabbatical application require?

1) a written proposal that is between 2 and 4 pages and includes how the proposed project

              a. contributes to a specific field of knowledge OR

              b. increases for the faculty member knowledge of their teaching subject matter OR

              c. improves the academic courses taught by the faculty member

2) an up-to-date C.V.

3) a letter from the department head endorsing (a) the merit of the project, and (b) the feasibility of replacing or covering the work in the department of the faculty member who is on sabbatical leave.


Faculty Development and Scholarship Committee emphasizes the “faculty development” part of its mandate, which it believes represents an ongoing commitment to Muhlenberg faculty as well as a commitment to process as well as progress. A meritorious sabbatical proposal will therefore demonstrate how a sabbatical leave will further the development of a serious scholarly or pedagogical project. While some faculty might use sabbaticals to work on already-advanced projects, others generate new projects or further define projects that are in relatively early stages.


Faculty members at Muhlenberg have successfully applied to work on projects in every stage of their development, from preliminary reading lists to the editing and proofreading of completed manuscripts. Other faculty members have applied to reinvigorate their teaching by using the sabbatical semester(s) to familiarize themselves with significant developments in their fields.


Are sabbaticals competitive? Are they ranked?

While the granting of sabbaticals is not automatic, this means only that applicants must be working on a serious scholarly or pedagogical project. In other words, a sabbatical is explicitly not for “rest and relaxation.” However, as noted above, the Handbook recognizes a wide range of projects as sabbatical-worthy and faculty do not and should not compete with each other for sabbaticals. Consequently, FDSC will not rank sabbatical proposals unless the college officially notifies the committee of financial exigencies, as the Handbook states.


What are my responsibilities once I have received a sabbatical?

The Handbook states that “sabbatical leave will be granted only to a faculty member who will have a continuing appointment with the College after the end of the leave and who, at the time of notification of approval for the leave, has not made a commitment inconsistent with his or her return to the College.” You are also required to submit a written report of your accomplishments to the Provost’s office within 3 months of returning to campus. You may be asked to discuss the results of your sabbatical with your department head.