Special Academic Leave


Special Academic Leave is neither a right of employment nor a reward for excellent performance and service. Special Academic Leave is a privilege awarded with the expectation that work engaged in during the Leave will enhance a faculty member’s subsequent service to his or her division/department and will contribute to the visibility and reputation of the School of Professional Studies (SPS) and New York University (NYU).


The purpose of a Special Academic Leave is to give faculty members time away from their normal SPS and division/department duties so they may pursue scholarly, creative, and/or professional interests that fulfill their passions, enhance their professional standing, and provide opportunity for intellectual development and achievement. 

Specifically, the objectives of a Special Academic Leave are for the faculty member to:

  • Engage in a project that leads to enhanced pedagogy and/or instructional materials.
  • Conduct scholarly and/or applied research that advances knowledge in the field.
  • Participate in creative or professional activities that contribute to the field.
  • Participate in activities that serve as an extension of the faculty member’s career or as a career re-orientation in a field that has undergone significant change.

Necessary Conditions for Granting a Special Academic Leave

  • The Leave must be convenient to the program (or in the case of joint appointments, the programs) causing minimal disruption, as determined by the academic unit leader.
  • There is an approved proposed plan for coverage of the faculty member’s duties while on leave, jointly agreed upon by the faculty member and his or her academic unit leader.
  • The number of full-time faculty on leave within a single division or department cannot exceed 20 percent of the total number of full-time faculty in that division or department. Exceptions require prior approval from the Dean of SPS.
  • The Leave has been approved by the academic unit leader, the SPS Dean, and the Rank, Title, and Privilege Committee (RTP). In the case of joint appointments, the leave has been approved by the academic unit leader in each unit.

Terms and Conditions of the Special Academic Leave

  • The Special Academic Leave is granted for one semester (fall or spring). 
  • The faculty member will receive his or her full salary and any university benefits currently enrolled in during the academic leave period unless a grant is awarded. Other School-funded opportunities will also remain available (i.e. Dean’s Research Grant Program, faculty professional development funds, etc.). In the case of an awarded grant, the SPS Dean will determine whether or not to offset any portion of the salary or benefits.
  • The Leave remains subject to all NYU policies, including those pertaining to outside consulting activities and conflicts of interest.
  • Faculty members may not teach at NYU or anywhere else while on leave, including continuing edication/noncredit courses or executive education, unless it is a stipulation of an awarded grant or fellowship.
  • Faculty may not be asked to complete any work for their division/department, SPS, or NYU while on academic leave. However, faculty is expected to stay connected and be responsive to NYU, SPS and their divisions/departments when questions arise or information is requested. In addition, faculty will remain responsible for Faculty Activity Reporting and Reappointment Review while on Special Academic Leave (see Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion and Grievance Policy). 
  • Faculty members are obligated to return to NYU for at least one semester following the completion of the academic leave.
  • Within one month of completing the leave, the faculty member submits a comprehensive report detailing the progress and results of the agreed upon work undertaken during the leave period. The report is submitted to the academic unit leader and the SPS Dean. Failure to submit this end-of-leave report will be taken into consideration when determining reappointment and/or an increase in salary for the next academic year.
  • Upon returning from academic leave, the faculty member must present his or her report at the next regularly scheduled SPS faculty meeting or event.
  • If a faculty member is approved for an academic leave and then decides not to pursue the leave, they must submit a new application for any future leave. 

Eligibility for Applying for a Special Academic Leave

The Special Academic Leave is granted in select circumstances to eligible full-time faculty whose applications meet the objectives of the Leave program. Applicants must also meet the following criteria to be eligible:

  • Be a full-time faculty member who does not have a title of Director or above.
  • Be in good standing and be meeting performance expectations as certified by the academic unit leader.
  • Have been employed full-time in his or her current division or department for six consecutive years before taking the first academic leave or between academic leaves. For this purpose, up to three years of service may be granted for faculty members who have had full-time faculty appointments in other NYU or SPS divisions or departments immediately preceding their employment in their current SPS division or department. (I.e., faculty may apply in their sixth year after their start date as full-time faculty or since their last academic leave to start their leave in year seven).  

Application Materials

All applicants must announce their intent to apply for Special Academic leave in writing to the Office of Faculty Affairs (OFA) (sps.facultyaffairs@nyu.edu) with a copy to their academic unit leader(s). Upon receipt of this written notice, OFA will initiate a case in NYU’s faculty review system, Interfolio. The faculty member will then complete and submit the case with the following five documents:

  1.  SPS Special Academic Leave Application Form (in Interfolio; replaces prior paper form)
  2. A proposal of work that includes:
    • A detailed explanation of the goals and purposes of the work to be completed and how they relate to the stated purpose of an SPS Special Academic Leave 
    • A proposed timeline including anticipated deliverables 
    • An explanation of collaboration of work on the project (if applicable)
    • A description of work that has already been completed on the project and work left to be completed during the academic leave period (if applicable)
  3. A plan created in consultation with the academic unit leader that lists the faculty member’s current responsibilities and how those responsibilities will be covered while on leave.
  4. If an external grant has been awarded, a copy of the grant award letter, the proposal, and the approved budget.
  5. Current CV

Applications for Special Academic Leave must be submitted to the academic unit leader no later than 12 months before the intended departure date. Once the academic unit leader signs off on the proposal and accompanying documents, he or she must forward the application to the SPS Office of Faculty Affairs (via Interfolio) no later than 10 months prior to the intended departure date. The application materials will be submitted to the SPS Rank, Title, and Privilege Committee (RTP) for review. Within one month of submission, the RTP Committee will submit their recommendation to approve or reject the proposal to the SPS Dean for final approval. Any decision by the academic unit leader or the SPS Dean to reject a proposal is final. The final decision will be communicated to the faculty member in writing with a copy to the academic unit leader. 

In extremely unique circumstances, academic unit leaders may submit a letter of appeal to the SPS Dean for an exception related to faculty eligibility or terms and conditions of this policy. The letter of appeal must provide ample justification for the exception and will only be granted for compelling and unusual reasons. The application for Special Academic Leave will not be reviewed until the SPS Dean grants such an exception.

Related Policies

Academic Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment Policy


Last Updated: June 13, 2023