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Guidelines for Sabbatical Leaves of Absence

The University of Illinois Statutes, at Article IX, Section 7, provide that a member of the faculty who has the tenure system title/rank of professor, associate professor, or assistant professor ". . . may be granted a sabbatical leave of absence with pay for the purpose of study, research, or other pursuit, the object of which is to increase the faculty member's usefulness to the University." (Section 7.a.)1 "Leaves of absence . . . are given to members of the faculty primarily for the purpose of enabling them to acquire additional knowledge and competency in their respective fields." (Section 7.e.)

Work toward a graduate degree does not qualify as an acceptable program for a sabbatical leave.

All sabbatical leaves are subject to approval by the Board of Trustees, upon recommendation of the President of the University.

Each Chancellor or Chancellor’s Designee will issue to their university administrative officers whatever directions might be necessary concerning intracampus handling of applications for sabbatical leave.

For university-specific questions about the sabbatical process and completing the application, please contact:

Chicago: or 312/355-2817
Springfield: or 217/206-6616
Urbana-Champaign: or 217/333-6677

Application and General Procedures

The electronic Sabbatical Leaves of Absence Application and Approval System form is available July 19, 2023 at

For assistance in completing the application, please refer to this HELP document.

1. Applications, prepared by eligible faculty members who seek sabbatical leave, are transmitted through the heads of departments and deans of colleges (or directors of similar units) to the next level for review (Faculty Affairs for UIC, Office of the Provost for UIS, and Academic Human Resources for UIUC). Faculty members should refer to their university specific communications for submission deadlines.

2. The Chancellor or Chancellor’s Designee transmits the applications with his/her recommendations to the President (via the Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs) based on the timelines established for Board reporting.

3. After appropriate review of the applications and recommendations from the campuses, the President submits his/her recommendations to the Board of Trustees.

4. The Board of Trustees considers the recommendations at its March Meeting. Applications received from probationary faculty are held at their university pending final university-level tenure decisions; thus the Board of Trustees considers this set of applications at a subsequent meeting. (A note for Assistant Professors: Until tenure is approved, arrangements for the sabbatical should not be finalized; i.e. timing, travel & pay)

Sabbatical Leaves of Absence Application Procedures and Information

The regulations and procedures outlined in these guidelines have been established by the President of the University System pursuant to statutory authorization. The eligibility for sabbatical leaves and the authority for granting such leaves are defined by the University of Illinois Statutes, and these guidelines are intended to provide procedures for application for and approval of sabbatical leaves in a manner consistent with the Statutes.

It is the responsibility of the faculty member, unit executive officer, and dean to ensure that applications are completed accurately and submitted within the required campus timelines as outlined.


Note that there are several policy points contained on the Sabbatical Leave Application and it is important that faculty members and unit executive officers understand and adhere to the policies as outlined.

Faculty members and unit executive officers should ensure that the information listed in the opening, top section of the application, is accurate and as reflected in Banner. For any faculty members who hold joint tenure-track or tenured appointments, a completed application must include approvals and statements by each of the respective units (and deans, if applicable).


A total of 14 possible options (combinations of leave duration and fraction of salary to be paid) are given in Article IX, Section 7.a. of the University Statutes.

The six options in Article IX, Section 7. a. (1-3) available to faculty members on academic-year (9-month service basis) appointments are:

After eight years of full-time service: academic year at 2/3rds pay or one semester at full pay
After six years of full-time service: academic year at ½ pay or one semester at full pay
After four years of full-time service: one semester at 2/3rds pay
After three years of full-time service: one semester at ½ pay

The eight options in Article IX, Section 7.a. (4) available to faculty on 11- month (twelve month service basis) appointments are:

After nine years of full-time service: ¾ year (9-months) at full pay
After eight years of full-time service: full year at 2/3rds pay or 2/3rds year at full pay
After six years of full-time service: full year at ½ pay or ½ year at full pay
After four years of full-time service: ½ year at 2/3rds pay
After three years of full-time service: ½ year at ½ pay or ¼ year at full pay

Other options are not available.

Note: If a sabbatical leave of absence was requested and approved by the Board of Trustees for an “either/or” choice, the final decision of the faculty member must be forwarded via the process outlined above under General Procedures, Section 1, number 1. Any changes to an approved sabbatical must receive prior approval of all recommending officers (see Section IV. Changes for additional information).


If successful completion of the program of research, study, or travel is contingent upon the applicant's receiving additional financial aid, either from the university or elsewhere, details concerning such contingency and a description of the alternative plan should be included in the Full Statement of Plans. In no case should an individual delay applying for a sabbatical leave while awaiting word on a grant proposal.

If the individual wishes to combine his or her sabbatical leave and salary with additional leave and salary supported by outside funds administered by the university, the arrangements must be as follows: (a) the combined salary may not exceed the faculty member's 100% salary for the appointment year during which the sabbatical is taken; (b) if sponsored project funds are used in combination with the sabbatical salary, an explicit statement must be submitted with the sabbatical application indicating that the proposed salary payment from sponsored project funds has the approval of the contracting or granting agency, or will have if support from an external sponsor has been requested but is still pending. In no case will a request for supplemental sabbatical salary be processed via the university payroll without the required granting agency approval.

The possibility of using such funds to supplement sabbatical leave salary does not in any way alter or change the spirit of the statutory requirements. The Statutes provide that a faculty member, while on leave, may give a limited number of lectures or perform a limited amount of work. However, in such cases the approval of the Chancellor or Chancellor’s Designee to the giving of the lectures or the doing of such work shall be required. The Statutes further go on to permit "the acceptance by a faculty member, while on leave, of a scholarship or fellowship carrying a stipend for the purpose of study, research, or scientific investigation or the acceptance of a grant of money made for such purposes, provided that the acceptance of the grant does not impose on the recipient duties and obligations the performance of which would be incompatible with the pursuit of the general purpose for which leaves of absence are granted." (Article IX, Section 7.e.). Any additional employment not specified above while on sabbatical is not permitted.

If supporting funding will be provided outside university payroll, then this information should be reported in the “Financial Support and Reimbursements During Leave Period” section of the application.


A concise statement of not more than 40 words, in lay language, describing the practical implications and value of your proposed work during the requested leave period is required.

This statement should be meaningful to a lay person outside the faculty member’s discipline and should succinctly describe the sabbatical plan. The statement provided in this section is the basis for the document that is submitted to the Board of Trustees for their consideration and approval. These statements become public information and represent your department and discipline.

The following are examples of the concise statement of not more than 40 words.

"To examine the state of energy conscious architecture, with particular attention to the passive use of solar energy for housing in the Chicago area."

"To complete a major series of paintings that deal with alterations of the rectangle in combination with painted illusions."

"To study feeding mechanisms in carnivores and to develop a graduate course on the physiology of human feeding."

"To learn cereal culturing techniques to be utilized in later research."

"To complete research and write a monograph on the theme of the American claimant in 19th Century American fiction, and to read in American literary scholarships."

"To search for production of new particles in conjunction with research related to the 1 TeV accelerator."

"To complete studies of the development of the spatial distributions and morphological structures of American cities, and to continue research on organizational and operational structures of medieval cities of Western Europe." 


Each application requesting sabbatical leave must be supported by a description of the activities to be undertaken during the proposed leave. The Statement of Plans, written to be understandable to faculty in other disciplines and administrative colleagues, will be a statement of not more than 1000 words providing sufficiently detailed information concerning the proposed course of study, travel, research, creative work, or investigation to permit an evaluation of the program to be undertaken in light of the provisions of Article IX, Sections 7.a. and 7.e. The statement should help the reviewers understand the relation of the proposed activities to the applicant's career in departmental, university, disciplinary, and other appropriate contexts.

Your statement should cover the following:

1. Description of the Proposed Research or Creative Work. It should include the sabbatical’s potential significance; e.g., usefulness as a scholarly or creative activity, the development of instructional material, to increase competence in an area appropriate to the applicant's university duties. The statement should relate the sabbatical activity to other work in the faculty member's field.

2. Justification for Sabbatical Location. Where the sabbatical will be taken, including information on the institution or place where the work will be undertaken and reasons for its pursuance there and then, for example:

“Work to be done in New York, Paris, and Jerusalem at the major research libraries of Columbia University, the Sorbonne, and the Institute Al-Kazar."

"Work to be done at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden in association with Professor Karl Tiselius, a noted scholar in my field."

"Work to be done on the Urbana-Champaign campus because of its excellent library facilities."

"Work to be done at the British Museum (London) and the University of Lima (Peru) which have important archives."

"Work to be done primarily at CERN-Geneva, which has the world's best laboratories for this kind of investigation."

3. Explanation of Significance as a Scholarly or Creative Work. Identify the potential significance or usefulness as a scholarly or creative activity or for the development of instructional material or to increase competence in an area appropriate to the applicant’s University duties

4. Contributions: How will the sabbatical contribute to meeting the goals of the faculty member's unit and the university as well as furtherance of knowledge in the applicant's field?Relate the sabbatical activity to other work in the faculty member’s field. If appropriate, the statement should also say how the proposed sabbatical activity will help the applicant better serve specific needs of the State of Illinois or the nation.

Please do not include a Curriculum Vitae, research summary, list of publications, or similar career documentation. If additional materials are needed during processing of an application, they will be requested specifically.


It is the responsibility of the faculty member and the unit executive officer to ensure that if any items are marked as applicable in this section that the appropriate university guidelines are followed.  You are required to notify IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee), IRB (Institutional Review Board), IBC (Institutional Biosafety Committee), or RSS (Research Support Services) as appropriate and make arrangements for the continued oversight and management of your research for the duration of your sabbatical. 


Reimbursements during the sabbatical must be disclosed in this section. If additional funds become available or if changes occur to the information provided on the application, then the faculty member must submit this updated information to their unit executive officer for approval routing (via the same approval routing as for the original application).

Reimbursements may be delayed if university funds are to be utilized and this information has not been submitted for approval.

When completing this section, any applicable items (travel to/from sabbatical location, other travel during sabbatical, and other reimbursements) must be accompanied by a source of funds designation—if university funds will be utilized, then the fund type should be listed and if this is an external fund, the reimbursing authority should be listed—and the approximate cost. 


Simply, in what city, state, and country will you reside during sabbatical? This is maintained as private information, yet relevant to the nature of reimbursements, such as those for travel to annual conferences during the sabbatical period.


Recommendations from the head of the department and the dean or director of the college or school concerned must accompany the application, including a statement as to what provision will be made for the workload of the applicant during his or her absence. The statement should cover the direction of graduate theses of students for whom the applicant is an advisor.  Furthermore, it should indicate whether or not any additional expense to the university would be involved if the leave were granted.

If hiring of adjunct or temporary faculty will be required due to the sabbatical leave, then explain how the additional salary will not increase the unit’s overall budget.

Applications ordinarily should not be approved if any additional costs to the university are involved. If exceptions to this rule are to be made, a specific request should be submitted through appropriate channels and should have the approval of the Chancellor or Chancellor’s Designee.

The sabbatical leave options available to faculty are limited to those specified in the University Statutes. No other options may be negotiated or approved by the unit executive officer or by the dean.

The following items are not applicable to completing the sabbatical leave application but are required at the time the application is submitted or upon the completion of an approved sabbatical leave.

Other Required Approvals

If the applicant is the principal investigator (P.I.) for a federally funded project and if the P.I. will be unable to actively manage the project for three months or more, the P.I. must designate a substitute P.I. This designation should be done via a letter initiated by the P.I., approved by the department, and processed through Grants and Contracts for sponsor approval.

In addition, if the applicant wishes to take university equipment off campus during the sabbatical, an Inventory Loan Agreement Form must be completed, approved, and filed in the administrative office of the loaning unit before any equipment is removed.


If any changes are required to the sabbatical application after the application has been submitted, or following approval, any subsequent changes should be forwarded through to the unit executive officer and following the process outlined under General Procedures, Section 1 and approved per their university instructions.

Required Report

Upon the faculty member's return from sabbatical leave, he or she is required to submit a report on his or her study and travel during the sabbatical period that will be reviewed by the same approval levels as the initial sabbatical application.

The report will address the following questions:

1) Briefly describe your sabbatical activities.
2) What were the near-term goals of your sabbatical leave? Specifically, what did you plan to have accomplished by the end of the sabbatical leave period?
3) Please list all scholarly accomplishments during your sabbatical, including: completed or draft versions of books, book chapters, edited books, special issues of journals, peer-reviewed articles, grant proposals, conference papers, presentations, exhibitions, invited lecture or workshops, research activities such as data collection, courses developed or revised, public engagement activities, or works in progress.
4) In what ways do you feel the aforementioned sabbatical activities/accomplishments have enhanced your abilities as a faculty member, not only in your field but also in your unit/college/university, etc.
5) In what way(s), if any, did your sabbatical goals change over time? If they changed, please explain the reason(s).

The report is available through the online sabbatical system available on July 19, 2023 at

It is the responsibility of the department and college to remind faculty members in advance of their Sabbatical Report due dates, as well as dates the reports are to be transmitted forward to the campus Provost’s office. Refer to the respective university websites for due dates:


Post-sabbatical Service Requirement

Faculty must remain in full-time service to the university for at least one year following return from a sabbatical leave. If this obligation is not fulfilled, the faculty member or his/her new employer must remit to the university an amount equal to the gross salary earned, accounting for service basis, while on sabbatical leave.

Updated 04/25/2024