Finance & Administration

Externally Funded Course Buy-Outs


The purpose of this policy is to create a way for Arts & Sciences faculty to buy out of courses using external funding from sponsored research. Such a negotiated buy-outs allow departments to financially support their curriculum teaching needs during periods when faculty members may need to focus more on a sponsored research effort.


Faculty may, with the prior approval of the chair and dean, buy out courses with external funding they have obtained. The limits on the number of courses that may be bought out, however, apply across all A&S departments.

In nonformula departments, buy‐outs will observe the financial principles listed in point 4 below. Departments on formula budgets (such as Computer Science, Mathematics, and Economics) may modify the financial aspects of buy-outs to balance their budgets.

NOTE: Course relief is not considered to be a course buy-out. Course relief is given to individuals serving as chair or directing an institute, etc.


  1. The faculty member must request approval for the course buy-out from the department chair and divisional dean.
  2. Faculty may not buy out more than one course per year, nor more than half of the department’s normal teaching load. Regular rank faculty members may not reduce their teaching commitments to less than one course per year.
  3. Course buy-outs should not normally be arranged in semesters immediately preceding or immediately following a Duke-sponsored research leave, such as a sabbatical or a Junior Research Leave. Exceptions must be approved in advance by the chair and divisional dean.
  4. The cost of buying out one course will be the appropriate fraction of the faculty member’s nine-month salary, but not less than the chair requires to replace the course. Exceptions to this will be considered by the Divisional Dean in cases of Humanities or Social Science grants that have a cap on the amount of course buy-outs that can be budgeted, such as grants (as opposed to fellowships) from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, or the Humboldt Foundation.

Normal Teaching Load

Fraction of Salary

1 + 1 Teaching Load

One-fourth of salary

2 + 1 Teaching Load

One-sixth of salary

Course buy-outs for faculty in departments with 2 + 1 teaching loads will be averaged over a two year period; that is, if a faculty member buys out half of the load, it will be up to a maximum of three courses over two years.

2 + 2 Teaching Load

One-eighth of salary


  1. If a faculty member buys out all courses in one semester, it will be expected that they will remain in residence at Duke and carry out all other duties of a faculty member, including graduate student supervision, advising, and departmental and university service. Otherwise, the semester will be fully costed (100% of salary plus fringe benefits) or it will be processed as a leave of absence without pay.