External Funding for Sabbaticals or Junior Faculty 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). 

Some options to consider...

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. Your planned sabbatical/JFL you have three possible shots at winning an NEH Fellowship (April 30 or May 1 deadline) – early-cycle, on-cycle, and...


Faculty Fulbright Proposals

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.    


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.” 


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...


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



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.