Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Faculty Development Leave

During the fall 2022 submission cycle, colleges have the option to use Interfolio to manage FDL requests. Please see the resources found at the bottom of the page for further instructions. 

Granting of professional leave strengthens an institution’s academic program by enhancing the faculty member’s teaching effectiveness and scholarship. The major purpose is to provide regular opportunities for continued professional growth, reinvigorated intellectual achievement, and development of new skills and perspectives through study, research, writing, and training. A sound, well-administered professional leave policy is an important inducement in the recruitment and retention of top quality faculty to major research universities.

A faculty member is awarded professional leave on the merits of a specific proposal for professional development. The award is an investment by the university in the expectation that the leave will enhance the faculty member’s ability to contribute to the objectives of the university and to student development. The improvements sought during a professional leave should benefit the work of the faculty member, department, college, and the university. Only professional leave proposals that meet this criterion will be accepted and approved by the university.

The purposes for which professional leave may be granted include:

  • Research on significant problems and issues
  • Important creative or descriptive work in any means of expression
  • Post-doctoral study at another institution
  • Other approved projects, including innovations in teaching and learning

Eligibility Requirements

  • Full-time tenured faculty with a minimum of six years full-time campus service since any previously granted professional leave (or six years at the time of an initial professional leave).
  • Faculty must have received tenure before applying for FDL.
  • At the time of the FDL application, the faculty member should have received a rating of meets expectations for rank or higher at the time of the most recent APPR.
  • The leave period should typically occur sometime during the academic year following submission of the FDL application.


Eligible full-time faculty members may be granted professional leave for either:

  1. one-half the faculty member’s annual appointment period at full base salary OR
  2. the full annual appointment period at one half base salary.

Additional Compensation and Benefits

  1. A faculty member normally will be permitted to accept only such grants, contracts, awards, fellowships, and other additional compensation as are given to support the approved professional leave project or are consistent with university policy. The approval of the provost must be obtained prior to accepting any additional compensation beyond that specified in points 2–5 below.
  2. A fellowship, grant-in-aid, or government-sponsored exchange lectureship may be accepted for the period of the leave if acceptance will promote the purpose of the leave and is approved by the provost.
  3. If approved by the provost, a faculty member on leave normally will be permitted to earn non-UT income in accordance with the UT Policy on Compensated Outside Services.
  4. To the extent permitted by state law, all benefits available to the faculty member under normal service shall be available during professional leave.
  5. Compensation shall be paid monthly, unless approved otherwise.

Return to the University

The professional leave recipient shall return to the university for one year following the professional leave or return the appropriate funds to the university.

Reporting Requirement

Within 30 days of returning from leave, the faculty member shall submit a report of activities undertaken and achievements during the leave, which will be reviewed and approved by the department head and dean. Once accepted by the provost, the report will be used as part of the considerations for merit raises and subsequent promotion.

Application Process

Before applying for Faculty Development Leave, the faculty member should first speak with their department head or college dean to obtain approval to submit an application.  Approval to submit an application is not approval of the leave request.

Once the department head or college dean has given approval for the faculty member to apply, the departmental or college case facilitator will need to create a case for the faculty member if they are using Interfolio. Otherwise, the application will be manually processed as has been done in the past and should be emailed as a PDF attachment with bookmarks to by the college representative.


  • October 17:  FDL applications due to College
  • November 18: FDL applications due to the Provost’s Office

Contents of Application

Faculty are required to provide the following documents:

  1. Proposal that includes the following:
    • statement of the purpose and nature of the professional leave project;
    • description of the importance of the work to the mission of the university;
    • description of the methodology to be used;
    • statement of the results anticipated from the professional leave;
    • indication of why professional leave is necessary for the conduct of the project (i.e., why is the project not within the normal scope of scholarly or service activities routinely expected of faculty members)
  2. Curriculum vitae, including dates of employment at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and dates of previous professional leaves.
  3. Application for retirement credit (two-page contract/fringe benefits sheet; 2015 TCRS form (This form should be signed by your department head and department or college budget director));
  4. If applicable, a letter of support from any agency, organization, or institution that will be involved with this project. (i.e. invitation letter from host lab, fellowship award letter, etc.)
  5. If applicable, a statement detailing any expected outside compensation or reimbursement;
  6. Applicants are also required to complete the FDL Terms of Leave form, which they will find in Interfolio if they are applying through the system. If applying via email, the form will need be to downloaded and included as part of the application.

Approval Procedure/Steps

  1. Each department or other applicable unit will determine how many faculty members can be on professional leave in a given year based on its instructional needs.
  2. A department committee, if applicable, or college committee, shall review and rank the proposals according to the following criteria:
    • contribution the professional leave will make toward increasing faculty members’ knowledge of and ability to teach their discipline;
    • practicality of the proposal in light of available resources;
    • number of years an applicant has served at the university; and
    • results of an applicant’s earlier professional leaves.
  3. The department or college committee makes a recommendation to approve, postpone, or reject each application. Each recommendation should clearly state:
    • the reasons for the decision, including an appraisal of the project;
    • why the decision is consistent with this policy;
    • an assessment of the effect the faculty member’s absence, if approved, would have on the academic program.
  4. The application and review are to be forwarded to the department head, if applicable. The department head should address:
    • the significance of the proposed work
    • benefits of the leave on the faculty member’s advancement and scholarship
    • effects of the leave on academic programs
    • how the faculty member’s responsibilities will be met.
  5. The head’s recommendation and committee recommendation are then forwarded to the dean. The dean should then provide their review and recommendation.  The application will then move to the Office of the Provost for consideration by the Chief Academic Officer.

Interfolio Resources