The Sabbatical Programme is a career enrichment opportunity for staff members in which they can:

  • contribute to the Organization and enhance their intellectual growth through research on issues relating to the work of the UN;
  • enhance dialogue and contacts between the UN and other organizations engaged in related work; and
  • gain exposure to state-of-the-art research and practices on issues on the international agenda.

Staff members selected for the Sabbatical Leave Programme receive leave with full pay for up to four months to pursue their research/study project.

Under exceptional circumstances, such as exigencies of service or illness, the Office of Human Resources may authorize the deferral of sabbatical leave to the following year. A request for deferral has to be submitted by the staff member in writing with the endorsement of the head of department or office.

Yes, the four-month period of the sabbatical leave includes weekends and official holidays. Travel days are also included in that period.

No, you will continue to receive the post adjustment for your official duty station.

Selected staff members are placed on special leave with full pay for up to four months.

Staff members on sabbatical leave continue to receive their salary, post adjustment and all related entitlements, such as rental subsidy and education grant, applicable to their regular duty station.

No additional payments are made by the United Nations to the staff member during sabbatical leave. Staff members may receive scholarships or stipends for room, board or travel expenses to support their sabbatical leave from an entity other than the United Nations with the pre-approval of the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources.

All sabbatical participants are required to submit a report within two months of the end of their sabbatical leave. 



Staff members are eligible to apply if they have at least five years of service with the United Nations Secretariat under continuing, permanent or fixed-term appointments and are expected to serve for at least two years after the completion of the sabbatical leave.

Yes, the Sabbatical Leave Programme is open to all staff members who meet the eligibility requirements.

Periods of Special Leave Without Pay of less than one month can be counted. Periods exceeding one month cannot be counted. Likewise, service on a loan or secondment outside the Secretariat is not counted towards the five-year continuous service requirement.



Details on the application process are available on the Application page.

Staff members are responsible for identifying the institution or organization in which they propose to carry out their study or research project.

They may choose among universities and independent institutions worldwide, including United Nations University research and training centres and those connected to the Academic Council on the United Nations System.

Staff members are also responsible for securing their acceptance by the selected institution and for ascertaining the type of support services and facilities that the institution is willing to provide. This information has to be included in the application.

Every Sabbatical Leave application is reviewed by the staff member’s FRO, SRO, and HR Partner (located in an EO or Administrative Office). The HR Partner will also need to obtain the approval of the applicant’s Head of Department/Entity. These approvals need to be in the system before the application deadline. Applicants are notified automatically by the Inspira system when their applications have been approved/rejected or pushed-back by their FRO, SRO or HR Partner.

By the deadline applications should be approved by your HR partner and Head of Entity. An application that does not have the proper approvals from the FRO, SRO, and HR partner (including the endorsement of the Head of Entity) will not be accepted. It is the responsibility of the applicant to allow enough time for these approvals.

We advise applicants to submit their applications to their FRO at least one month before the deadline. In theory this should give the FRO, SRO and HR Partner enough time to review the content and follow up on any questions. Please note, however, that every team operates differently and therefore it may be prudent to submit your application to your FRO even earlier than one month before the deadline. Keep in mind that HR Partners tend to be very busy year-round and delays can occur when try to secure the review/approval of a Head of Department/Entity.

If you are not able to see the name of your FRO, SRO, or HR partner in Inspira please use the contact us button in Inspira to let them know about this issue. The IT team will respond in a couple days’ time.

If you are experiencing technical difficulties submitting your application, please use the contact us button in inspira and fill out the form describing the specific issue. If you have general questions about the application process, please send an email to



The Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources, assisted by a selection committee, reviews the proposals submitted and makes selections in accordance with the criteria set out in ST/AI/2015/5.

Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Relevance of the project of study or research to the Organization and to the current functions or potential career path of the staff member;
  • The potential benefit and impact to the Organization’s work;
  • Feasibility of the project of study or research including whether it can be completed within the proposed period; appropriateness of the planned methodology;
  • Quality of the proposal including demonstrating awareness of the latest developments in the area of the project of study or research;
  • Suitability of the staff member and the proposed institution to carry out the project of study or research.

           The committee is composed of representatives of the Academic Council on the United Nations System and senior United Nations staff members with experience in the substantive areas of the proposals submitted for consideration. A Staff Development Officer from OHR serves as ex-officio.

The decisions made by the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources based on the recommendations of the selection committee are final and are not subject to appeal.

It normally takes around two months after the application deadline for selection decisions to be communicated to applicants. All applicants will be informed about whether they were selected or not.



The Sabbatical Leave Report should include the following sections as outlined in this document. Please contact if you have questions.