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Sabbatical Leave Policy

University Sabbatical Leave Policy


Sabbatical leaves can be very important in the development of a faculty member’s abilities and contributions to research, teaching, and outreach/leadership. Thus, they can be of great benefit to the advancement of the applicant’s department or program, the College and the University. The College of Natural Science (NatSci) policies related to sabbatical leaves described here build on and are consistent with the University policies, which are attached for reference. In their recommendations for sabbatical requests, chairs and directors should provide an analysis of the proposal based on the following criteria.

Criteria for Approval

  1. Sabbatical leaves must clearly benefit both the individual’s academic career and the University’s missions.
  2. Sabbatical leaves should facilitate the individual’s professional growth in a manner not possible during ordinary on-campus faculty assignment. On-campus sabbatical leaves must be strongly and specifically justified for academic, work-life balance or other appropriate reasons.
  3. Applications for sabbatical leaves that meet criteria 1 and 2 will normally be approved only if all of the following conditions are met.
    • There is a clearly defined project that will strongly advance the university’s research or teaching missions.
    • There is clear evidence that the results of prior sabbaticals by the applicant have substantially benefited the University.
    • The department or program (the unit) can satisfactorily meet all of its instructional obligations including instruction during the applicant’s sabbatical with no additional funds beyond those released by the applicant’s leave.
  4. For 1-semester or 6-month sabbaticals, applicants with different teaching loads in different semesters are expected to take the sabbatical during the semester with the smaller teaching load.
  5. In cases when a unit has many applications in the same year, the unit must prioritize the applications. In such cases, the timing of the sabbaticals may need to be arranged over time to allow the unit to meet its instructional and other responsibilities.

Timing of Submission and Evaluation of Applications

  1. To allow for effective instructional planning for the following academic year, applications for sabbatical leaves should be submitted to the applicant’s unit(s) by February 15 prior to the academic year for which the sabbatical is proposed.
  2. Those applications should be reviewed and approved or denied at the unit level based on standard unit policies and procedures.
  3. Those applications approved by the unit(s) should be submitted to the College office by March 1 prior to the academic year for which the sabbatical is proposed.
  4. These applications will be reviewed by the Dean and appropriate associate deans, and the unit(s) informed of approval or denial of the application by April 15.
  5. Applications submitted after February 15 will be considered under only the most unusual circumstances that demonstrate extraordinary institutional interests.
  6. Applications based on proposals for funding from outside Michigan State University that have not yet been approved should be submitted on the standard schedule and should include a full description of the proposed funding, the timing of its review and approval, and the effects on the application if it is not awarded. In such cases, a plan for modifying or withdrawing the application and for meeting the faculty member’s responsibilities should be included in the application.
  7. The electronic form for the application is available at https://www.hr.msu.edu/time-off-leave/documents/Sabbatical_LOAform.pdf
  8. Once units receive the signed approval from the dean's office, the unit submits the form through EBS. 


University policy requires each faculty member to submit a report assessing the accomplishments of a sabbatical leave in relation to the proposed plan within 30 days of the completion of the sabbatical. NatSci faculty members should submit this report to the relevant chair(s) or director(s) describing activities undertaken, location(s), work accomplished, papers published or in progress based on work during the sabbatical, grants submitted or funded based on work during the sabbatical, and how the sabbatical advanced the faculty member’s research, teaching or outreach/leadership and the University’s capabilities. The department chair(s) and program director(s) should include an evaluation of the success of the completed sabbatical in the next annual review of the faculty member.


Faculty who take a 50%, full-year sabbatical continue to receive full health benefits at the same rate as s/he did as a 100% employee prior to the sabbatical.

College of Natural Science Faculty Advisory Committee Review: January 12, 2011

College approval: March 11, 2011

Added benefits information: June 14, 2016