University Sabbatical Program

The University’s scholarly leave program is what many faculty refer to as “sabbatical.” It is normally awarded to tenured faculty based on a system of credits accrued for full-time service. A full description of the scholarly leave program, from the University’s Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators, follows below.

To apply for scholarly leave, please submit this application form.

The University offers other forms of leave for non-research purposes, including for child care and for employment elsewhere. For further information, please consult your department or the Dean’s office, or refer to Penn’s Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators and the SAS Policies and Procedures for Appointments and Promotions, both linked on the right.

Scholarly Leaves

It is appropriate that members of the Standing Faculty, Standing Faculty—Clinician- Educators, and full-time Research Faculty periodically be granted scholarly leaves for study and research. A scholarly leave is a means of recognizing a faculty member’s high academic performance while at the University, future potential for growth, and an opportunity to make a major contribution to knowledge. It is intended to extend and to accelerate intellectual growth and to enable a faculty member to pursue without distraction a project designed to this end including the advancement of personal knowledge or competence in the faculty member’s current or potential areas of specialty. A scholarly leave is also intended to benefit the general academic community and the University. Therefore, a scholarly leave normally will be granted only to a faculty member who will have a continuing appointment with the University 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 return to the University. Exceptions to this requirement will be made for faculty members who plan to retire at the end of their proposed scholarly leave.

A scholarly leave is granted only to a faculty member who has presented an appropriate private program of study or research. It is recognized, however, that scholarly leaves for faculty members in the arts and professions can be based upon programs designed to increase professional competence even though these may not normally be interpreted as research programs.

Approval of an application for scholarly leave is contingent upon adequate fiscal and personnel resources being available to meet instructional assignments and other departmental responsibilities. If exigencies require, it may become necessary to postpone leaves.

Scholarly leave is normally not granted to University faculty members holding term appointments. In special cases where a faculty member on a term appointment is granted a scholarly leave, the leave will be counted as part of the time accumulated toward tenure, unless the formal action approving the leave expressly provides otherwise. Scholarly leaves may be with or without salary from the University.

Scholarly Leaves without Salary

Scholarly leaves without salary are occasionally granted. In these cases, the faculty member does not receive remuneration in the form of salary from the University of Pennsylvania or from any other organization. To the extent that personnel benefits are not financed under this arrangement, the faculty member may request that the University make contributions toward the cost of these personnel benefits as permitted by law and University benefits policies, provided that the faculty member continues individual contributions to the employee benefits plans.

Scholarly Leaves with Salary

Normally, an initial scholarly leave with salary is granted to a University faculty member holding the rank of Associate Professor or Professor after a period of six or more consecutive years of full-time service in the Standing Faculty, Standing Faculty— Clinician-Educator, or Research Faculty at the University. Additional paid scholarly leave may be granted periodically.

Eligibility for consideration for up to a maximum of two semesters of leave at full academic base salary may be accrued at the rate of one semester of leave at up to half academic base salary (or equivalent) for each six semesters of full-time service (accumulation cannot begin before July 1, 1982):

Full-time Service Leave Eligibility
Six semesters One semester at up to half academic base salary
Twelve semesters One semester at up to full academic base salary
or two semesters at up to half academic base salary
Eighteen semesters One semester at up to full academic base salary
and one semester at up to half academic base salary
Twenty-four semesters Two semesters at up to full academic base salary


Faculty members may not normally be granted scholarly leave with salary for more than two consecutive semesters. Faculty members on twelve-month appointments will accrue eligibility for leave at full or half academic base salary for six months or twelve months after full-time service for corresponding six month (rather than semester) periods.

The University shall administer all types of scholarly leave with flexibility, allowing faculty members to take advantage of special opportunities such as prestigious fellowships. In such cases, when a leave is granted earlier than would be expected, the interval between this leave and any subsequent leave will be adjusted to make the faculty member’s leaves conform, on the average, to the guidelines above.

Faculty members are encouraged to seek outside support wherever possible to permit them to take advantage of the full year leave option without loss of income. Total salary during the leave cannot exceed the normal academic salary for that period; if the outside support is such that the total would exceed the normal academic salary, the University contribution shall be appropriately reduced. Payments specifically designated by a supporting agency for travel or living expenses are exempt from this limitation; such payments may also be made from departmental or school budgets, but not from the benefits pool.

It is the responsibility of an applicant for a scholarly leave to inform the University fully concerning the financial circumstances surrounding the leave, including any grant, fellowship, stipend or other compensation that is received during the leave period so that the University may make arrangements for appropriate financial support. Such information shall be presented as soon as it is available.

A faculty member may not accept paid employment during a scholarly leave with salary except as provided within the University’s policy governing extramural activity for compensation (see section II.E.5 in this Handbook.). During a paid leave, personnel benefits are continued to the extent permitted by law and by University benefits policy, provided the faculty member continues normal benefits contributions.