Seeking External Funding for your Sabbatical/Junior Faculty Leave

Faculty may apply for fellowships, summer stipends, grants, and other funding opportunities for their sabbatical or leave.

Fellowships – Fellowships typically are received directly by the scholar, with some variation of an independent submission process, although you may require institutional documentation.

But, be strategic! 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). See timelines below:

NEH Fellowships

NEH Fellowships. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is a federal agency, so you can get reviewers’ comments, albeit brief for any NEH Fellowship submission; use those comments to revise and resubmit. Why is this important? Reviewers’ comments are valuable since, because of the long start-window, and relative to your planned sabbatical/JFL you have three possible shots at winning an NEH Fellowship (April 30 or May 1 deadline) – early-cycleon-cycle, and late-cycle.

-For an early-cycle NEH Fellowship submission, and if the proposal takes you about 3 months to write, begin the process two years and seven months (31 months) before you need funding for an academic year sabbatical. This is the strategic part – plan to resubmit with reviewers’ comments to strengthen your on-cycle submission.

-If you’re interested in the typical on-cycle NEH Fellowship submission, and the proposal takes you 3 months to write, you should start about 19 months before you need funding [3 + 4 + 12]. If unsuccessful, use reviewers’ comments to revise and resubmit to the late-cycle window.

-The late-cycle NEH Fellowship submission is when your sabbatical starts in September and you apply on the preceding April 30/May 1; if successful, you could get funding from the following January 1 through the end of the summer (i.e. the latter half of your sabbatical, plus summer).


Faculty Fulbright

Faculty Fulbright proposals typically have an August 1 deadline; they require more advance preparation because you need to have an in-country host lined up to be competitive. Therefore, start working 17 to 18 months ahead of when your sabbatical/JFL starts.

For other fellowships, you still need to plan 16 to 18 months ahead of the start of your sabbatical/JFL, giving yourself at least 3 months to write the proposal. You can submit a variation of your NEH Fellowship for EURIAS proposals (summer deadline), ACLS Fellowships (3rd week in September), and other fellowships that are typically clustered around late September, early October. There are some fellowships with deadlines in November, December, or January/February, but most are clustered in the September/October window.


NEH Summer Stipends

NEH Summer Stipends give you funding for “continuous full-time work on a humanities project for a period of two consecutive months” and “supports projects at any stage of development.”

-Affiliated faculty teaching full time at an institution: Each institution can put forward two NEH Summer Stipend applicants, so there is an internal competition run in the summer by the Associate Dean’s office. PS reviews the applications, and recommends two finalists. Internal finalists then may submit to a late September deadline.

-Independent scholars: for those “with academic appointments that terminate by the summer of the award tenure” you may apply to the NEH Summer Stipend program as independent scholars, outside of F&M’s internal selection process.


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 sciences in the mix: archaeology and archaeometry; biological, cultural, and paleo anthropology; cognitive neuroscience; decision, risk and management sciences; developmental and learning sciences; linguistics; natural and human systems; economics; geography and spatial sciences; law and social sciences; methodology, measurement, and statistics; perception, action, and cognition; political science; infrastructure processes and systems; science of organizations; science, technology, and society; social psychology; and sociology.

In essence, faculty teaching at primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) can use the ROA option to tag onto a funded NSF proposal at an R1 institution and get a few months of funding, travel money, and modest supply money. Be advised that you would need to coordinate your activities with the research program at the R1-funded institution. Check with Amy for more details.


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


Finding Funding 

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, talk with colleagues, and have a chat with Amy Cuhel-Schuckers. Touch base with Amy early and often – she can help!