Phased Retirement Program.


Our goal is for all of our faculty to enjoy a long, productive, and satisfying career at the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH). To that end, we provide a vibrant and comprehensive portfolio of faculty development programs that address the needs of our faculty members at every career stage, including retirement.

Under federal law, a faculty member is not required to retire based on the faculty member’s age. Each faculty member makes their own decision about when to retire based on personal circumstances. When planning for retirement, faculty will want to consider issues related to health insurance and Medicare, social security benefits, tuition remission, and other benefits. The BU Office of Human Resources provides useful information to help navigate these particular benefits issues, as well as additional information about resources available to BU retirees.

A faculty member considering retirement should initiate the discussion with their department chair at least a year in advance. Faculty may choose to retire in any number of ways. One option is to formalize their plan by providing their department chair with a letter of resignation.  The SPH Faculty Phased Retirement Program provides another option, intended to provide faculty with the flexibility necessary to plan their retirement in a manner that respects their contributions to BU, meets their needs during the pre-retirement period, and is aligned with the interests of the School.

Note that when a resignation is processed by BU Human Resources, it is technically only considered to be a “retirement” if the faculty member was age 55 or older and had 10 or more years of service (ie 10 continuous years of service after the age of 45) at the time of their retirement. This BU HR definition does not affect eligibility for this SPH program.

Phased Retirement Option

Through the phased retirement program, primary faculty who intend to retire within three years or less may propose a plan for reduced engagement during the years preceding retirement. Primary faculty at SPH are normally expected to cover their salary via a mix of internally and externally supported activities, following the rubric for salary coverage described in the SPH Faculty Handbook.  However, the phased retirement program provides the opportunity for faculty to customize a mix of professional activities, as agreed upon with the Chair and the Dean, outside of the standard salary coverage expectations. This approach provides faculty with increased flexibility to engage in activities such as unfunded scholarship, faculty mentoring, student advising, public health practice, service, and/or citizenship. The phased retirement plan is also expected to include some amount of teaching, funded scholarship, and/or administration, structured in a way that is mutually beneficial to the faculty member and the School.

Recognizing that each faculty member’s circumstances and preferences are different, it is expected that the proposed plans will vary both in overall effort and in type of engagement. For example, a faculty member could propose a gradual reduction to 75% effort in year 1, 50% effort in year 2, and 25% effort in year 3. In this case, a proposed plan might include teaching three courses in year 1, two courses in year 2, and 1 course in year 3, with the balance of time spent on externally funded research and/or activities that outside of this program would not be associated with salary coverage.  As another example, a faculty member may propose to reduce to 50% for just a period of two years. In this case, a proposed plan might include teaching one course per year while also ramping down externally funded research, with the balance of time spent on activities that outside of this program would not be associated with salary coverage. These examples are just two of many possible scenarios, fully expecting that the mix of proposed activities will vary depending on the interests of the faculty member in balance with the mission and strategic priorities of the department and the School.

When developing a phased retirement plan, faculty will want to consider the implications for their BU employment benefits. A change in employment status from full-time to part-time is considered a qualifying change in status. Depending on how percent time changes, certain benefits may be affected. Faculty should consult the Human Resources website to obtain the most current information on the benefits implications of changing from full-time to part-time.

While participating in the phased retirement program, faculty are still eligible to benefit from the Faculty Incentive Program and their access to School and University resources (e.g. email, libraries, administrative support, etc.) will remain unchanged. Additionally, they will continue to have office space at SPH as per the Principles Guiding Use of Space at SPH. Upon retirement from Boston University, faculty are eligible for the benefits described on the Human Resources website.

Application Process

A request for phased retirement plan should be submitted for consideration at least six months prior to the proposed start date. The request shall be made in the form of a letter to the Department Chair that includes the following: (a) a proposed level of engagement (% FTE) during each year preceding the proposed date of retirement, (b) a proposed mix of professional activities during each year of the pre-retirement period that broadly aligns with the proposed levels of engagement, and (c) a summary of the responsibilities that they intend to discontinue and will require alternative arrangements.

The expectation is that faculty members will continue their externally funded activities as part of the phased retirement plan. However, in some cases, given the particular nature of the funded activities, it may be acceptable to reassign externally funded activities if it would (a) allow the faculty member to better achieve their goals during the pre-retirement period, (b) benefit the career of another SPH faculty member, and (b) not jeopardize the success of the project.


The Department Chair will review the merits of the proposed phased retirement plan. Within four weeks of receiving the request, the Department Chair will inform the faculty member of their recommendation and forward the request letter and their recommendation to the Dean. The Dean will review the merits of the request and, after consultation with the Chair, inform the faculty member of the decision to approve or deny the request. The faculty member will receive a written explanation for the decision.

If approved, the faculty member will be expected to follow their approved phased retirement plan instead of the SPH rubric for salary coverage and will retire from SPH on the agreed upon date. Once the agreement is made, the retirement date can only be delayed with the approval of the Dean. The faculty member retains the right to retire earlier if they wish.

A request may be denied based on merit in which case the written explanation will provide feedback intended to help the faculty member revise their proposed phased retirement plan so that it is of sufficient mutual benefit to them and to the School. After considering feedback, the faculty member may submit a revised request.

A copy of the faculty member’s proposed plan, chair’s recommendation, and Dean’s decision letter will be kept as part of the faculty member’s personnel file in the SPH Faculty Resources Office.

The SPH Faculty Phased Retirement Program will be reviewed periodically by the Governing Council.

1Effective as of May 2019. Faculty should consult BU Human Resources for updates.
2Eligibility is based on completing 2 years of eligible service at Boston University. An employee enrolled in the plan will maintain eligibility to continue participation regardless of their percent time or assignment duration.
3This benefit does not have a minimum percent time or assignment duration requirement.
4Eligibility is based on completing 2 years of eligible service at Boston University or prior group Long Term Disability insurance coverage.
5This benefit does not have a minimum percent time or assignment duration requirement.
6Employee pays 25% of the cost of the plan.
7Employee pays 25% of the cost of the plan.
8Employee pays 50% of the cost of the plan.