Faculty Fellowships and Leave Support

What is a Fellowship?

Externally-funded faculty fellowships are short-term monetary awards sponsored by a specific organization through a competition and awarded to a faculty member to support their academic pursuits. Fellowships are designed to support a range of activities, including advanced research/scholarship within a specific field or particular issue; developing a new community-based organization or initiative; training and reflection to support the fellow's growth, or opportunities to further explore a specific field area of scholarship.

Common Features of a Fellowship

  • Fellowships may include a residency requirement or other service commitment.
  • A stipend payment (usually paid monthly) that serves as a salary replacement, so the faculty member can devote interrupted time to their scholarship.
  • Some fellowships may also include an additional monetary allowance for research or travel expenses.
  • Most fellowships have a duration of 6, 9, or 12 months.

How Fellowships Can Support Leaves, Promotion, Sabbaticals and Professional Development

  • Enable a leave for research and scholarship. Many fellowships provide a monthly stipend that is meant as a subsistence allowance to help defray living expenses during the project period. In some cases (subject to the approval of your Dean, Chair, and the Provost) Emerson will support a faculty member who receives a fellowship by paying the difference between the fellowship stipend and the faculty member's academic year salary, allowing a faculty member to take one semester of paid leave.
  • Extending a sabbatical or other leave from one semester to two. If a faculty member is awarded a one-semester fellowship, it may be possible to schedule it to run in sequence with a planned (paid) leave or sabbatical. 
  • Payroll continuity. Many fellowship sponsors will allow Emerson to process stipend payments to faculty fellows on the sponsor’s behalf. This allows you to keep receiving one stream of pay during the fellowship period, and simplifies many of the tax-reporting requirements that accompany some fellowships. 
  • Continuity of benefits. Fellowship leaves supported by the College can often be arranged so that your employee benefits (health dental, 403(b)) can continue during the award period. 
  • Supplemental salary. Short-term fellowships –particularly summer fellowships– can be a source of additional income to support research during the summer months. 
  • Prestige. Many fellowships are highly competitive and sought after in their particular disciplines, and can lead to new networking opportunities and a higher profile. 
  • Promotion & Tenure: Time spent on a Fellowship counts as “continuous service” toward tenure and promotion. 

Eligibility, Timing, and Institutional Approvals

  • Confirm your (and/or Emerson’s) eligibility for a specific fellowship before starting the application process. 
  • Consult with your Department Chair and Dean before applying. Many fellowship applications require a letter of support or signature from them, and it is critical to coordinate the timing of any fellowship with your scheduled leave(s), sabbatical(s), and/or tenure track.
  • PLAN AHEAD. To increase your chances of receiving a fellowship that aligns with (or can extend) your pre-tenure leave, start applying as early as 24 months before the start of your leave:
  • The example below shows a planning process for a faculty member whose sabbatical is scheduled for Spring 2024.

An example flow chart that depicts a a planning process for a faculty member whose sabbatical is scheduled for Spring 2024

Planning Your Application and Working with ORCS

  • Some fellowship proposals can be submitted directly by the applicant, without the need for an authorized institutional signature. In spite of this, the College encourages all prospective applicants to reach out to the Office of Research and Creative Scholarship early in the planning process.
  • In addition to offering proofreading, formatting, and application review services, ORCS will also document your Dean and Chair’s approval of the application; procure any necessary institutional signatures and letters; provide buyout calculations for your salary and benefits; and coordinate payroll continuity and benefits for eligible awards.
  • Allow yourself plenty of time to plan your application, contact your references, and share drafts of your applications with colleagues for feedback. Six months before an application due date is a reasonable time to start planning in earnest.

How do I find a Fellowship?