External Funding for Sabbaticals or Unpaid Research Semesters

Here are some nuances about external funding you may not know.

Fellowships typically are submitted, and received, directly by the scholar, although applicants may require some sort of institutional documentation to support the submission. Grants, in contrast, generally are submitted through the institution, and are awards received by the institution on your behalf.

Be strategic and plan ahead. fellowships require a long lead-time, so put reminders on your calendar – whatever works for you so you don’t lose your chance(s). 

NEH Fellowships

NEH Fellowships are competitive awards granted to individual scholars pursuing projects that embody exceptional research, rigorous analysis, and clear writing.  DEADLINE: April 14, 2021


Faculty Fulbright Proposals

Fulbright Scholar Awards comprise the bulk of awards offered and include opportunities for professionals, artists, and scholars at all career-levels. Location and eligibility vary across all awards, and some awards may be restricted to certain career levels or types of scholars.  DEADLINE: Wednesday, September 15, 2021


NEH Summer Stipends

NEH Summer Stipends support continuous full-time work on a humanities project for a period of two consecutive months.  NEH funds may support recipients’ compensation, travel, and other costs related to the proposed scholarly research. NEH staff will host a webinar on Wednesday, April 14, 2:00-3:00 PM (Eastern). 


NSF Research Opportunities

NSF Research Opportunity Awards (ROAs) are non-competitive, but require some advance planning. ROAs are an option for scholars in any of the disciplines funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and can provide some summer salary or sabbatical/JFL support. Don’t be deceived by the name! NSF includes the social, behavioral and economic...


Finding Grant Funding Opportunities

Check out SpinPlus and Duke University’s funding search engines; pay attention to funding acknowledgements by scholars at the end of papers, journal articles, or conference presentations, check out your professional associations, and talk with colleagues. 



You may apply for grants at any time, per the proposal deadline. Plan to begin writing at least 6 months in advance of a deadline, 12 months in advance for planning is not too long a time and give yourself more time if the proposal is collaborative with another institution. Depending on the funder, it may be possible to include a request for the un-funded portion of your sabbatical in the grant budget.

Sub-awards or collaborative research grants. Options for junior scholars include tying into proposals led by R1 institutions, or faculty at other liberal arts institutions who may be more established.

Grants typically are received on your behalf through the institution, and require adherence to institutional processes.