Sabbatical Leave for Tenured Faculty

(revised 8/27/2013)


A sabbatical leave is defined as a leave for the purpose of engaging in research or other activities that will advance the faculty member’s scholarly achievement or that will enhance the reputation of or otherwise benefit the university. A sabbatical leave will not be granted for the purpose of taking regular academic or other employment of financial advantage elsewhere.


Faculty members who have completed six years of service in residence as a tenured professor at Harvard University may request sabbatical leave. Ordinarily, at least six years must elapse between a faculty member’s sabbaticals.

The dean may ask a faculty member to defer a sabbatical leave to the following year if the number of applicants for sabbatical leave in any one year in any one department is considered to be excessive or if the dean believes there to be another compelling academic case for deferral. When the dean has initiated the request for deferral, it may be agreed that the faculty member will become eligible for the subsequent sabbatical five rather than six years after returning from the deferred leave.

Forgoing or deferring sabbatical leave does not result in the accrual of a proportional increase in sabbatical time available. Sabbatical time not taken is forfeited.

Term and compensation

Sabbatical leave may be granted for one academic year on half pay or half an academic year on full pay. Harvard Chan School  funds supporting the faculty member’s salary during the sabbatical are provided in proportion to the school’s financial responsibility for the faculty member. For example, a faculty member who receives 80% of his/her academic-year salary through a hospital-based appointment and 20% through HSPH will ordinarily receive sabbatical support from HSPH at the 20% level.

Insofar as it is permitted by the sponsor, a faculty member who continues to work on a sponsored project during their leave may use sponsored research funding to supplement the school’s salary commitment in order to extend the length of the leave, provided that the amount charged to the sponsor is commensurate with the effort worked on the project; for example, the faculty member may take a full academic year of sabbatical leave at full pay if research funding covers the half of the salary that would otherwise not be paid.

Procedure for requesting sabbatical leave

I. The faculty member would ordinarily request a sabbatical by December 31 prior to the academic year in which s/he wishes to take leave. S/he requests the sabbatical in a letter to his/her department chair. The letter should include the following information:

  • Dates of proposed sabbatical leave and information about any sponsored funding that will be used to supplement or replace school funds
  • Description of the proposed research or creative work to be conducted during the leave, including an explanation of its significance to the applicant, the department/school/university, and the faculty member’s field, as well as information about the institution/place where the work will be undertaken
  • A plan for coverage of teaching, advising, and administrative responsibilities during the leave, and identification of school and departmental service activities that will require coverage during the sabbatical

II. The department chair forwards the sabbatical proposal with a covering letter to Talia Fox, Office of Faculty Affairs. The cover letter, addressed to the dean, should include the following information:

  • Endorsement of the request for sabbatical leave
  • Any additional information about the faculty member’s proposed activities and/or plan for coverage of responsibilities
  • Information about any other sabbatical requests that may be forthcoming from members of the department

III. Once the dean has approved the request, the following steps are taken:

Procedure upon the faculty member’s return from sabbatical leave

At the conclusion of the sabbatical leave, the faculty member submits a report of activities carried out during the leave, and their results, to the dean (in care of Ms. Fox) and his/her department chair.


Questions about these procedures should be directed to Talia Fox, assistant director of faculty affairs, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (617-432-1327;