Research Leave Policies

Approved by Main Campus Executive Faculty, December 6, 2019

Endorsed by the Council of Deans, February 10, 2020

I. Goals

  • To support and prioritize faculty research enthusiastically
  • To create an environment in which faculty know research is expected, facilitated, valued, and rewarded
  • To provide clarity to faculty and administrators regarding research leave options, eligibility, and process

II. Types of research leave

We propose four types of research leave, grouped into two categories, building on the existing structure.

  • Non-competitive research leave
    1. Sabbatical
      • One semester at full pay, or two semesters at half pay
    2. Junior Faculty Research Fellowships, JFRFs
      • One semester at full pay
  • Competitive research leave
    1. External Fellowship Leave (1), EFL
      • EFLs are granted for one or two semesters, at full pay
      • The number of faculty who can be awarded EFLs in a given year is not explicitly limited by the Provost’s Office, but is subject to the teaching and other needs of departments.
      • Faculty are free to apply (see selection criteria below) at any point in the academic cycle
    2. Georgetown University Research Leave (2), GURL
      • One semester at full pay
      • Depending on the available funding, the number of GURLs is limited each year
      • GURL is open to all tenure line faculty, both junior and senior
      • Applications are reviewed by the Research Awards Committee early in the Spring, for the following Fall or Spring.

Faculty are permitted, and encouraged, to apply for other internal or external funding to cover complementary research costs incurred during periods of research leave.  Similarly, multiple leaves (e.g., one JFRF plus one GURL), can be combined, subject to eligibility.

III. Eligibility for research leave

All types of research leave are treated equivalently in calculating the eligibility criteria below (3)

  •  “3-in-4” rule: A maximum of three semesters of research leave that are not fully funded by external sources can be taken in any four-year period
  • Faculty are eligible to apply for any of the four kinds of research leave if taking the proposed leave would not violate the “3-in-4” rule or the Faculty Handbook limit on leaves (Section III.C.10).

IV. Selection process

All research leaves are subject to the eligibility criteria above.

  • Sabbatical: granted, subject to normal approval processes
  • JFRFs: granted, subject to normal approval processes
  • EFL: automatic, subject to the following conditions:
    • The external fellowship must be on the list of qualified fellowships (as defined in Section V of this document). 
    • Approval of the department chair and dean, reflecting teaching and service needs
    • Formal application for an EFL should be submitted through GU-PASS with support of the department chair and dean, along with evidence of award of the EF
    • Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year
    • Fellowship funds for faculty salaries or stipends accrue to the University (see financial issues below)
    • Non-salary allowances paid by the fellowship to cover travel, accommodation in residence, etc. do not accrue to the University
  • GURL: competitive
    • Faculty submit applications to their department chairs, who approve the application.  Deadline: Oct. 31.
    • The Vice Provost for Research convenes the Research Awards Committee that selects final recipients by January 31, for the following Fall or Spring.
    • A faculty member can propose to take a GURL in conjunction with an external fellowship that is not on the EFL list.  However, s/he must go through the GURL application process described above, and award of a GURL is not guaranteed, even if such a non-EFL fellowship has been secured.  Faculty are therefore encouraged to plan ahead and apply for a GURL before they anticipate seeking a non-EFL fellowship.

V. Approved external fellowship list

A list of EFL-qualified fellowships will be curated and published in an open and transparent fashion by the Research Executive Committee, convened by the Vice Provost for Research.  Faculty members who wish to apply for one of the listed fellowships should inform their chair and dean, and seek their approval to take EFL should their external application be successful.

The rationale for using such a list is that the University is willing to “contract out” the selection of high priority research leave to bona fide external evaluators.  In practice, this means that to be included on the list, an external fellowship must be highly competitive and open to a broad range of scholars, and selection should be through a transparent and selective peer-review process.  Often, “prestigious” fellowships satisfy these criteria, but prestige is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for being included on the list.

There is no minimum (nor maximum) dollar value associated with inclusion on the list of qualifying EFs, although funding levels will be considered in determining qualification for inclusion on the list.

An External Fellowship Standing Committee consisting of a balanced representation of Humanities, Natural Science, and Social Science faculty will review new EFs to be included on the list.  Proposals will be considered on three pre-announced dates in October, January, and April each year by the Standing Committee, which will submit its recommendations to the Research Executive Committee for approval.  Proposals for new EFs must be received by the Vice Provost for Research two weeks in advance of the scheduled review dates, and should provide clear and detailed evidence of the competitive nature of the selection process, as outlined below.  When meeting the deadline is infeasible (e.g., when a faculty member is unexpectedly offered a fellowship for which s/he had not explicitly applied), new EFs will be considered for inclusion on the list on an ad hoc basis at times outside of the three scheduled review dates.

Proposals for new fellowships to be included on the list of approved EFs can be submitted by individual faculty, and should include:

  • The name of the fellowship and the sponsoring organization, with website
  • Whether the fellowship accepts applications or is simply offered to selected individuals
  • The number of applications typically received by the sponsoring organization and the number of fellowships typically awarded, if available
  • The eligibility and selection conditions
  • A list of scholars who have held the award previously.

VI. Financial issues

  • Faculty are guaranteed full continuation of salary and benefits during periods of research leave, except in the case when they elect to take a one-year sabbatical on half pay.
  • In the case of EFLs:
    • If the fellowship comes with a salary or stipend that is less than the faculty member’s annual Georgetown salary, those funds accrue fully to the Office of the Provost
    • If the fellowship comes with a salary or stipend in excess of the faculty member’s annual Georgetown salary, such excess can be used towards otherwise unfunded summer salary. 
  • If the hiring of adjunct faculty is necessary to cover courses due to faculty absence, reasonable costs of doing so will be covered by the Provost’s Office.
  1. The EFL policy corresponds to the old “top-offs” or matching awards policy.  The “competitive” nature of this kind of leave reflects the fact that faculty compete in an external market, against researchers from other institutions.  Note that a 2-semester external fellowship is more valuable to the faculty member than a 2-semester sabbatical, as the latter provides only half pay. Of course, many fellowships will come with some faculty salary or stipend, which effectively represents a revenue source for the university (see below).
  2. The GURL represents an updated version of Senior Faculty Research Fellowships, which were previously restricted to senior faculty.  Faculty compete for these leave opportunities against their colleagues on the Main Campus at Georgetown.
  3. With approval, faculty can also take “unpaid research leave”.  Such leave is not counted in the “3-in-4” rule.