Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship  – Through the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF), more people from historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups, as well as those who have shown a commitment to eliminating racial disparities, are encouraged to pursue a Ph.D. in important subjects.

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship

The course is named in honor of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, a scholar, former president of Morehouse College, educator, clergyman, and social activist. Dr. Mays, the advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the son of former slaves, developed a special mentoring approach that also combined academic success with a desire for social justice.

Overview of The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation‘s endeavors to improve diversity in the teaching ranks of institutions of higher learning are led by the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program. 

Additionally, Three institutions in South Africa and a group of historically black colleges and universities that are members of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) are among the 48 member schools and consortiums of the program.

By 2021, more than 6000 students had been chosen as fellows, more than 1000 of them had obtained their doctorates, and more than 190 of them were now tenure-track faculty members. The majority of Ph.D. graduates are now or have held an appointment in the academy.


Who is Eligible to Take Part? 

  • Students must initially be enrolled at one of the MMUF member universities in order to be eligible for MMUF. particular students do not get fellowships directly from Mellon; rather, member institutions receive money, which is then used to choose fellows and manage the program on particular campuses. 
  • Every campus has its own application procedure, but in general, it entails a written statement of purpose, one or more recommendations from professors, an academic transcript, an interview with the selection committee, and other prerequisites.
  • Fellows are typically chosen in the spring of their sophomore year after declaring their majors, though there may be some variations depending on the institution. Occasionally, juniors or seniors have been chosen as fellows.

Selection Criteria 

When choosing MMUF fellows, the following factors are taken into account: 

  • Academic promise (some colleges have minimal GPA requirements, while others don’t); 
  • Desire to work in academia in a field that qualifies; 
  • potential to work with a range of kids as a mentor and teacher; 
  • Demonstrated dedication to the objectives of MMUF, which include addressing the negative effects of racial inequities on the educational system and the greater society it serves as well as reducing the substantial underrepresentation of people from minority groups on faculties. Additionally, One way to demonstrate this dedication is through serious undergraduate research into racial disparities in higher education, a proven track record of tutoring students from underrepresented groups, ongoing mentoring of children from such groups, or other forms of community service or leadership in on- or off-campus organizations. 
  • A willingness and ability to participate fully and enthusiastically in all facets of the MMUF program, including conferences and meetings.
  • Status as a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States (with the exception of students enrolled in South African universities, University of Cape Town, University of the Western Cape, and University of the Witwatersrand).

All students are welcome to submit an application for MMUF, but underrepresented minorities (URM) such as African Americans, Latinos and Latinas, Native Americans, and others are especially encouraged to do so.

Application Process

  • A 500-word essay outlining the applicant’s interest in one of the MMUF-approved fields, future career aspirations, interests in becoming a professor, Also, how the MMUF Program would contribute to their academic and personal goals, and what they aim to accomplish in the program. The “Apply Now” option located below can be used to submit this essay.
  • One letter of recommendation from a professor at a college or university who can attest to your academic ability. The recommendation should also be sent to  directly from the letter writer.

Eligible fields of study

Students must intend to pursue one or more of the following fields of study in order to be eligible for selection as an MMUF fellow:

  • Anthropology and Archaeology
  • Area/Cultural/Ethnic/Gender Studies
  • Art History
  • Classics
  • Geography and Population Studies
  • English
  • Film, Cinema and Media Studies (theoretical focus)
  • Musicology, Ethnomusicology and Music Theory
  • Foreign Languages and Literatures
  • History
  • Linguistics
  • Literature
  • Performance Studies (theoretical focus)
  • Philosophy and Political Theory
  • Religion and Theology
  • Sociology
  • Theater (theoretical focus)


Interdisciplinary Studies: If one or more eligible fields are at the center of an interdisciplinary area of study, that area of study may be eligible; however, each interdisciplinary area of study must first have the individual case-by-case approval of the MMUF staff at the Mellon Foundation. 

It should be noted that graduate-level multidisciplinary education programs are not covered by the MMUF graduate benefits, even if they include one or more qualified disciplines.