Research Leave

Research leaves release tenure-line faculty members from all teaching and service responsibilities for a period of time in order to enable intense focus on a particular scholarly pursuit. Research leaves can aid faculty in bringing existing projects to fruition or opening new lines of inquiry. Tenure-line faculty members are therefore encouraged to request research leaves on a regular basis. Tenure-line faculty are further encouraged to seek additional support to maximize the leave period. 

Tenure-track assistant professors are eligible for a semester of pre-tenure leave following a successful third-year renewal. Assistant professors may request to take their pre-tenure leave early if they win a premium external fellowship or major project grant. If approved, they may take a year of research leave before renewal. At the conclusion of the leave, the 10-semester leave clock will reset.

Faculty beyond the pre-tenure leave are eligible to request leave after completing ten semesters of teaching since their last leave. Tenured and tenure track members of the faculty may request one semester of research leave at full salary or a full year of leave at half salary.  If a faculty member’s teaching schedule is not symmetric (i.e., not the same in each semester) and he or she opts to take a one-semester leave, the leave must be taken during the semester in which fewer courses are taught. Faculty members who have entered into retirement agreements with the University or are in the terminal year of their contracts are not eligible for research leave.

  1. Faculty who are eligible for a semester of research leave (i.e., have taught 10 semesters since their last leave) may extend the duration of their leave to a year in the following ways:
    1. A faculty member who wins a premium external fellowship may extend his or her semester-long research leave to a year, even if the fellowship does not cover the full salary for the second semester. Premium fellowships are defined as fellowships lasting at least one full semester, issued by programs and agencies listed in Table 1, or other fellowships approved by the Dean of the College on a case-by-case basis. The College will supplement the faculty member’s fellowship stipend to provide full salary and benefits for a year (academic or calendar, as the fellowship allows). The duration of the leave is not expected to extend beyond one year. At the conclusion of the fellowship, the faculty member’s 10-semester clock will reset. 
    2. A faculty member who wins a non-premium external fellowship (i.e., a fellowship not listed in Table 1 below), may request to extend his or her semester-long research leave to a full year, but the College will not supplement the fellowship stipend. If the fellowship is year-long, the faculty member may take a year of leave at half-pay, supplemented by the amount of the fellowship. If the fellowship is semester-long, the faculty member may take one semester of leave at full pay and the second semester as unpaid leave, supplemented by the amount of the fellowship. In no case should the total compensation exceed the faculty member’s base salary. The faculty member’s benefits will continue throughout the leave. The duration of the leave should not extend beyond one year. At the conclusion of the fellowship, the faculty member’s 10-semester clock will reset.
    3. A faculty member who wins a major project grant may request to extend the research leave to a full year at full salary. The faculty member must serve as the lead PI/PD. The total value of the award must equal or exceed $250,000. The grant must be received within a year of the research leave. At the conclusion of the leave, the faculty member’s 10-semester clock will reset.
  2. Faculty who are not yet eligible for a semester of research leave (have not yet taught 10 semesters since their last leave) may apply for leave under the following scenarios:
    1. A faculty member who wins a premium fellowship or major project grant in a year in which he or she is not eligible for a research leave may apply for an off-cycle semester/year of leave (determined via both the Office of the Dean and the terms of the fellowship or grant) if they have accrued at least four semesters of teaching since their last leave, or two semesters since their last leave if they are untenured.
  3. Faculty, regardless of leave eligibility, who wish to apply for a non-premium fellowship or a project grant less than $250,000 in order either a) to take a semester of leave when not yet eligible for one, or b) to extend a semester of leave to a full year of leave, must consult with both their department chair and the Dean’s Office before making any applications.

Table 1. Premium External Fellowships

  • American Academy in Rome
  • American Antiquarian Society
  • American Council of Learned Societies
  • American School of Classical Studies at Athens
  • Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program
  • Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University
  • Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Fulbright Scholar Program (contact the Dean’s Office regarding specific Fulbright opportunities)
  • Getty Foundation
  • John Simon Guggenheim Foundation
  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
  • Huntington Library
  • I Tatti – The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies
  • Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, Jerusalem
  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • National Gallery of Art (CASVA Sr. Fellowship)
  • National Humanities Center
  • Newberry Library
  • Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study
  • Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
  • Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
  • Russell Sage Foundation
  • Woodrow Wilson Center

This list is derived from the list of “Highly Prestigious” and “Prestigious” fellowships maintained by the American Association of Universities and the National Research Council. Faculty should contact the Dean’s Office to discuss the status of other fellowships for which they wish to apply (see #3 above). Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Leaves cannot be extended beyond 12 months without permission from the Dean of the College. In no case can leave eligibility be combined to produce a leave period of more than 18 months. Leaves longer than 12 months are typically reserved for tenured members of the faculty given the importance of developing a substantive teaching record prior to tenure evaluations. Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. At the conclusion of any leave, the faculty member’s 10-semester clock will reset. All requests for research leave must be preceded or accompanied by applications for external funding. A faculty member may satisfy the funding application requirement by submitting two fellowship applications that, if funded, would support the period of research leave. At least one of these applications must qualify as a premium fellowship (see Table 1). Alternatively, a faculty member may satisfy the funding application requirement by submitting one major project grant application that would fund a particular research project without providing a salary stipend. The grant must be submitted within the twelve-month period preceding the proposed start date and the leave applicant must serve as Principal Investigator of the project. Additionally, the award’s total value must exceed $250,000.

How to submit a research leave request

All requests for research leave must include:

  • Form L
  • The applicant’s C.V.
  • Description of qualifying grant application(s), including budgets 
  • A 2-3 page statement of work in which the applicant describes the research activities he or she will undertake during the proposed leave period
  • A short, written summary of the applicant’s leave history at Notre Dame 
  • The College’s “Record of Leave History” form
  • A report on the applicant’s most recent leave that details the scholarly and/or creative work accomplished during the leave period as well as the influence that work has had on the applicant's scholarly trajectory in the years since the prior leave 

Leave requests for AY 2024-2025 are due in chairpersons’ offices on September 15, 2023.

Leave eligibility does not guarantee the approval of the request. Requests for research leave will be evaluated in terms of the quality of the applicant’s proposed leave project, products and outcomes of prior leaves, overall scholarly record, and, where relevant, the applicant’s trajectory toward renewal, tenure, or promotion. Successful faculty will show strong evidence of recent research productivity as indicated by the rate and quality of scholarly publication, excellence in graduate student mentorship (where relevant), and serious pursuit of external funding. In addition to the strength of the faculty member’s case for a leave, departmental teaching needs must also be considered. 

Department chairpersons will provide a written assessment of a leave request’s merits and an explanation of how departmental and mentoring obligations will be covered (with existing faculty) should the leave be approved. If more than one faculty member from the same area of specialization requests a leave in the same year, it may be necessary to recommend against one or more requests for
that year. 

For leave requests for AY 2024-2025, chairpersons should forward leave requests along with their letters of evaluation/recommendation to the Associate Dean of their division by October 6, 2023.

The divisional Associate Deans will make recommendations to the Provost who renders final decisions regarding leave requests. The Associate Deans will notify applicants of their own recommendations as early as possible, but official decisions will not be provided by the Provost’s Office until May 2024. 

In accepting research leave, faculty members agree to adhere to the University’s Conflict of Commitment Policy during the period of the leave. Unless an external award covers 100% of salary and benefits, they further agree to return to the University for a full academic year on completion of the leave. If they do not, they are obligated to repay the University the cost of their salary and/or benefits including the amount of contribution to the 403(b) plan and premiums for health insurance the University supplied during the entire leave period, less any fellowship amount.

Outbound Faculty Agreements for Leaves

For visiting faculty from Notre Dame going to another institution, an Outbound Visiting Faculty Agreement will need to be completed and submitted as part of the leave packet that gets submitted to the Office of the Provost. NOTE: Sometimes, the visiting institution prefers to use their own agreement for Outbound Agreements. The Office of General Counsel must review those before it can be agreed to/signed. 


Related Links

National Research Council List of Highly Prestigious Awards

Inbound and Outbound Faculty Agreements