20 Paid Fellowships for Your Mid-Career Sabbatical 

Jul 07, 2022

Last updated February 1, 2023

You’re probably familiar with the concept of a mid-career sabbatical, but did you know that these professional growth opportunities aren’t just for University faculty or professors? Professionals from all sectors can have a conversation with their employers about how a sabbatical can be beneficial for both you and the organization by allowing you to gain and contribute new skills and perspectives to the team. In fact, more and more companies are offering months-long sabbaticals to help retain workers since the onset of the pandemic. 

Sabbaticals offer professionals the opportunity to take a break from their day-to-day duties and expand their knowledge by conducting research, completing work abroad, attending workshops and conferences, providing mentorship to others, and more. But the best way to view this opportunity is as a career adventure. Sabbaticals allow you to have exciting experiences while building new skills that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to in your full-time role. Many of these opportunities will even enable you to immerse yourself in a new culture or country. 

While some organizations or employers will fund your sabbatical, many will not. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. There are many paid fellowships that will provide you with a stipend and other benefits like travel expenses or housing for the full length of the program. 

Here are 20 paid fellowships that would be perfect for a mid-career sabbatical. 

Alicia Patterson Fellowships

Alicia Patterson Fellowships are awarded to working journalists to pursue independent projects and to write articles based on their investigations for The APF Reporter, a web-published magazine by the Foundation. The fellowships are open only to U.S. citizens who are full-time print journalists, or to non-U.S. citizens who work full-time for U.S. print publications, either in America or abroad. Reporters, writers, photographers, and editors are all eligible to apply. The fellowship stipend is $40,000 for twelve months and $20,000 for six months to cover travel and research costs.

George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowships

This unrestricted, non-residency fellowship supports mid-career artists and scholars to pursue proposed projects of their choosing. Support is particularly intended to augment paid sabbatical leave. Fellowships are worth $40,000 and open to any applicant who can legally live and work in the U.S. 

AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships

This fellowship provides opportunities for outstanding scientists and engineers to learn first-hand about federal policymaking while using their knowledge and skills to address societal challenges. Fellows select assignments in Congressional offices or federal agencies for a stipend of $75k – $100k. 

The Fulbright Specialist Program

The Fulbright Specialist Program is a unique opportunity for U.S. established professionals to engage in two- to six-week, project-based exchanges at host institutions in over 150 countries. Specialists, who represent a wide range of professional and academic disciplines, are competitively selected to join the Fulbright Specialist Roster based on their knowledge, skill sets, and ability to make a significant contribution to projects overseas. Specialists receive full funding to participate in Fulbright Specialist projects, including travel, stipend, and lodging. Applications are accepted throughout the year.

ProFellow Tip: Get insider knowledge on how to successfully apply to this program in our interview with Senior Outreach Officer Amirah Nelson.

Congressional Budget Office Economic Policy Fellowships

CBO’s visiting scholars have a unique opportunity to address complex budgetary and economic issues in the fields of macroeconomics, health economics, financial economics, and public economics, though it welcomes applications from analysts in all areas. Visiting scholars conduct policy-related research, use the agency’s data and facilities, and collaborate daily with CBO’s staff members to contribute to the agency’s analysis. Candidates must have a PhD or equivalent degree and considerable expertise in their field.

Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship

The International Affairs Fellowship assists early to mid-career scholars and professionals in broadening their foreign policy experience. Approximately ten fellowships are awarded annually to highly accomplished individuals with the capacity to undertake independent work. The fellowship is 12 months and offers a stipend of $95,000.

Radcliffe Fellowship Program 

Radcliffe Fellows are accomplished artists, academics, and professionals who convene at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University for a full year to focus on individual projects and research while benefiting from a multidisciplinary community in the University setting. Stipends are funded up to $78,000 for one year with additional funds for project expenses. Fellows receive office or studio space and access to libraries and other resources of Harvard University during the fellowship year.

David Center for the American Revolution Postdoctoral Fellowship

This 24-month fellowship is perfect for a professor or independent scholar seeking sabbatical support for a research project. Applicants’ research must pertain to topics on the American Revolution and Founding Era. The successful applicant will receive an appointment as a Research Associate at the McNeil Center with a stipend of $50,000 per year.

Activate Fellowship

Activate empowers scientists and engineers to reinvent the world by bringing their hard-technology research to market to address climate change and other global challenges across industries. Activate transforms scientists into high-impact entrepreneurs through a two-year immersive experience that provides funding and fosters the resources, knowledge, networks, investors, and partnerships that fellows need to succeed as startup founders. 

Rotary Peace Fellowship 

Rotary selects individuals from around the world to receive fully funded academic fellowships at one of the Rotary peace centers in Australia, England, Japan, Sweden, the U.S., Thailand, and Uganda. These fellowships cover tuition and fees, room and board, and RT transportation. A 1-year blended learning professional development certificate is available for experienced professionals working in peace-related fields. 

ProFellow Tip: Learn more about this program directly from alumna Kathy Doherty in this Q&A article

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipends

This grant support individuals pursuing advanced research that is of value to humanities scholars, general audiences, or both. Recipients usually produce articles, monographs, books, digital materials, archaeological site reports, translations, or editions. Summer Stipends provide $6,000 for two consecutive months of full-time research and writing. Summer Stipends normally support work carried out during the summer months, but arrangements can be made for other times of the year.

Fellowships at the Wilson Center

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars offers 9-month residential fellowships to outstanding scholars, practitioners, journalists and public intellectuals to take part in its non-partisan dialogue. Fellows conduct research and write in their areas of interest. The Center accepts non-advocacy, policy-relevant fellowship proposals that address key challenges of past, present and future issues confronting the United States and the world. 

German Chancellor Fellowship 

The German Chancellor Fellowship allows prospective leaders from Brazil, China, India, Russia, and the U.S. to carry out a project of their own design in cooperation with a host in Germany for one year. Applicants must have received their BA within the past 12 years at the time of the application. Prior knowledge of German is not a prerequisite and intensive language study is included. Candidates from all professions and disciplines, but especially individuals in the humanities, law, social sciences, and economics, are eligible to apply. 

ProFellow Tip: Learn more about this program from alum Prudhvi Pavuluri in this Q&A article

The Maurice R. Greenberg World Fellows Program

This 4-month residential program offers allows global professionals from a variety of disciplines the opportunity to attend seminars and skill-building sessions at Yale University for a period of four months. Applications to the Yale World Fellows Program are accepted from across sectors and around the world. 

Ford Foundation Global Fellowship

The Ford Foundation Global Fellowship supports emerging leaders from across the globe who are advancing innovative ideas and solutions to combat inequality. Fellows attend multi-day convenings held in different regions across the world and learn from site visits, guest speakers, and other experiences. Fellows receive a $25,000 stipend and all travel costs are paid. 

Knight-Wallace Fellowship for Midwest News

This 8-month program offers dedicated support to founders, editors and senior staff from news projects launched within the past five years to further develop their vision, consult with experts, and implement their learnings following the fellowship. Fellows receive a $75,000 stipend and health insurance. 

ProFellow Tip: Learn how veteran journalist Eileen Trax took a break from the newsroom to build her skills through the Knight-Wallace Fellowship

Urban Leaders Fellowship 

The Urban Leaders Fellowship is a 7-week paid summer fellowship for early- to mid-career professionals who are already leaders in their own right and are looking to accelerate their leadership through fellowship with a focus on policy and practice. Fellows work half-time on high-level policy projects with an elected official and half-time alongside partner organizations in cities across the country. 

LOEB Fellowship at Harvard University Graduate School of Design 

LOEB Fellows come from around the world to the Harvard Graduate School of Design with one purpose: to make the world a better place for all. LOEB Fellows are mid-career professionals who step away from their hectic professional lives for an academic year of auditing classes and learning from professionals at Harvard and MIT. 

Echidna Global Scholars Program

The Echidna Global Scholars Program is a 4-6 month visiting fellowship hosted by the Center for Universal Education (CUE) at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. The program aims to build the research and analytical skills of NGO leaders and academics who have substantial experience and ties to developing countries. Echidna Scholars focus on improving learning opportunities and outcomes for girls in the developing world and are expected to have some background in education, development, economics, gender, or a related area.

Peace Corps Response Program

Peace Corps Response provides opportunities for established professionals to contribute their skills through short-term assignments in programs around the world. Prior overseas experience is not required, but cross-cultural competency is expected.

Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Check out this list of 21 Part-time Fellowships for Early and Mid-Career Professionals.

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