Sabbatical leave is very common as it is nice to spend a year as a visiting professor in another university and experience a new environment.

It is very beneficial for the host university to have temporary faculty members free of charge (no salary is normally paid by the host university). (1) How do host universities attempt (if they do) to attract visiting professors? Of course, there are job advertisements for hiring visiting professors, but I think they are paid positions and different from normal sabbatical leave.

Visiting for research purposes should be arranged with the leader of the host research group. Thus, the arrangement is at a personal level (somewhat similar to hiring a postdoc researcher.

Visiting for education purposes should be arranged at the level of the department chair.

(2) How can a professor find a visiting professor? Is it chancy? to meet a colleague interested to host? Or s/he must contact many professors and department chairs to find a vacancy?

(1) & (2) Who should actually initiate this process? The guest professor or host university?

(possible 3) Is there a system to facilitate this process, as it is of mutual interest, or everything is left to chance? For example, European Union emphasizes the mobility of students/professors through different programmes. Is there such a system for sabbatical visits (in its classical form of completely working at the host university for a period of time, not guest lecturing as it is common in Europe).

  • Am I naïve to think that a sabbatical means not working? ;)
    – gerrit
    Mar 7, 2013 at 0:03
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    @gerrit: Yes, very. Mar 7, 2013 at 1:55
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    @gerrit not working at home but working somewhere else. As the Sabbath day was not working for ourselves, but working (praying) for God ;)
    – Googlebot
    Mar 7, 2013 at 1:59
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    It is common, in many fields, for the host university to pay part of the salary of the professor on sabbatical. Mar 8, 2013 at 8:44
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    Also, many professors go on sabbatical to do something other than work at a different university: start a company, write a book, and so forth. Mar 8, 2013 at 8:45

2 Answers 2


I do not have direct experience with sabbaticals, however the professors I've known that have taken them have been explicitly sought out for the respective sabbatical at a particular institution (as a visiting professor), by colleagues that they personally know professionally (i.e., from being in the same field and interacting via conferences, collaborations, etc.).

In other words, it boils down to networking, and almost certainly doesn't come out of nowhere. If a professor is planning a sabbatical, he or she will probably already have colleagues willing to host, or will start the process by calling up a colleague and pitching the idea. I would gather that it isn't likely that there are too many successful cold-calls to departments that lead to sabbaticals.

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    I can speak from experience that cold calls can work. If your employer is paying your salary (you only need space at the hosting institution), a lot of universities are happy to host, even if there's no past connection, because it's the mission of the university to have visiting professors. Since space can be an issue in universities where the research bar is high (or sometimes the administration insists on some measure of excellence like h-index for invited prof status), you might have to have a good enough CV to get in. Sep 18, 2019 at 21:11

Each time I've taken a sabbatical, it has started with an email (or, in years past, a letter). Write to the person (or people) you would like to collaborate with, and let them know you have a sabbatical coming up. Of course, knowing them already will make it much more likely to be successful.

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