Professional Development Assignments

Program Description

The Professional Development Assignment (PDA) Program at the University of Memphis encourages faculty members to continue their professional growth as scholars and teachers. 

Half year (one semester) PDA recipients receive full pay.

One year (full academic year) PDA recipients receive half pay. 

A comprehensive list of recent PDA recipients can be found in the index on the left-hand side of this webpage. 

Eligibility & Duration

  • All full-time faculty members, tenured-tracked and professors of teaching are eligible on a competitive basis. 
  • Faculty are eligible to apply for half year (one semester) PDAs after they have served as a full-time faculty member for a minimum of seven (7) years. 
  • Faculty are eligible to apply for one year (full academic year) PDAs after they have served as a full-time faculty member for a minimum of five (5) years. 
  • In rare instances, the provost may grant exceptions. 

Reapplying for PDAs 

  • Half year (one semester) recipients may not apply for another PDA until after seven (7) years have elapsed since the prior leave. 
    • E.g., PDA Fall 2020 eligible again in Fall 2027
  • One year (full academic year) recipients may not apply for another PDA until after five (5) years have elapsed since the prior leave. 
    • E.g., PDA Fall 2020 or AY 2020-2021 eligible for AY 2025-2026
  • If your previous PDA was for a half year (one semester), you are eligible to apply for a one year (full academic year) PDA after five years have elapsed since the prior leave. 

Application Guidelines 

Applications open early in the Fall semester of the year prior to the anticipated PDA (e.g., Fall 2025 applications are for the AY 2026-2027). You may access the application via the InfoReady website

Proposals must include: 

  • A brief but specific plan (1-3 pages) for the work the faculty member intends to complete during the PDA. 
  • A statement about the expected benefit to the faculty member, the College, and the University.
  • Applicants are encouraged to seek non-University support for the period of their leave and attempts to obtain funds should be described in the proposal.
  • Faculty members anticipating financial support from external funding should discuss this with their Chair or Director prior to submitting the proposal.
  • Current curriculum vitae must accompany the proposal.
  • A Chair/Director endorsement detailing your course and service coverage plans. You must provide your Chair’s email address before submitting the application in order for them to receive the instructions to complete the endorsement.


  • PDA recipients must agree to remain at the University of Memphis for at least one full academic year after the assignment is completed.
  • PDA recipients sign a contract that will be distributed from the Dean’s office.
  • Full year PDA recipients with sufficient external grant support can draw up to 50% of available funds that, in turn, can be applied toward their salary.
    • Approval to draw against external grant funds must be secured by the time they sign their contract accepting the PDA. 
    • Incentive pay cannot be drawn during a PDA period.
  • Within three months after the end of the leave period, the faculty member will be prompted to complete a online reporting form describing the accomplishments and benefits of the leave.
  • Complete the Online Reporting Form.

Priorities To Be Used By The Selection Committee

  • Proposals that advance the faculty member's scholarship and/or teaching.
  • Proposals that show clear potential to enhance the faculty member's contributions to the department or division, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the University.
  • Proposals that clearly specify the plan for work during the leave period.
  • Faculty members who have not received a previous PDA.
  • Tenured faculty members.
  • For non-tenured and teaching faculty, priority given to those who have completed their third-year review.

CAS PDA Selection Committee Composition 

  • The committee is constituted by members of the College of Arts & Sciences Council for Graduate Studies and Research and coordinated by the Associate Dean of Research.
  • The committee members represent the three disciplinary areas of the College (Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Science and Mathematical Sciences).

Selection Process

  • After each member has reviewed the proposals, the PDA Committee meets with the Associate Dean overseeing the PDA program.
  • Each committee member reports their decision as to whether the candidate (1) should definitely be funded, (2) should be funded if budgetary considerations permit, or (3) should not be funded even if there are sufficient funds.
  • A supporting rationale is provided. 
  • If possible, the committee arrives at a consensus about each candidate.
  • Based upon the PDA Committee's recommendations, the Associate Dean works with Chairs/Directors on course and service coverage for recommended applicants, and associated costs. 
  • The Associate Dean overseeing the program discusses committee recommendations and financial feasibility with the Dean and the Dean’s professional staff. 
  • Final decisions are made by the Dean and Dean’s professional staff, based on budget availability. 
  • The Dean and Associate Dean issue decision letters to each applicant by the end of the fall semester. The faculty member’s Chair/Director is copied.
PDA Application