The Undergraduate Fellowship Program aims to increase the number of talented, intellectually engaged undergraduates who choose to enroll in Ph.D. programs in the humanities, designated sciences and social science disciplines. This program is interested in students at the sophomore level who have a serious interest in pursuing the Ph.D. and becoming college professors in one of the Mellon designated fields. Fellows work closely with faculty mentors representing their scholarly fields, participate in a summer institute, sharpen their research, writing and presentation skills and receive semester and summer stipends to assist with costs related to research and graduate school preparation. 

Mellon designated fields of study

Anthropology and Archaeology

Area/Cultural/Ethnic/Gender Studies

Art History


Geography and Population Studies


Film, Cinema and Media Studies (theoretical focus)

Musicology, Ethnomusicology and Music Theory

Foreign Languages and Literatures




Performance Studies (theoretical focus)

Philosophy and Political Theory

Religion and Theology


Theater (theoretical focus)

Interdisciplinary Studies: Interdisciplinary areas of study may be eligible if they have one or more eligible fields at their core, but must be approved by the MMUF staff at the Mellon Foundation on a case-by-case basis. Please note that interdisciplinary education graduate programs, even those that incorporate one or more eligible fields, are not eligible for MMUF graduate benefits.

Please follow this link for the application to the 2019-2021 cohort of fellows.


Please follow this link for your copy of the UNCF/Mellon Programs Mentor’s Guidelines.

Both mentors and undergraduates should note the UNCF/MMUF Timeline for 2019-2020.

There are currently four campus coordinators, who serve where there are three or more undergraduate fellows.


Please follow this link for your copy of the UNCF/Mellon Programs Guidelines, Opportunities and Responsibilities Booklet.

Rising junior fellows, please follow this link for the application to the 2019 Cape Town January Program. Because a collective UNCF application is due to the Mellon Foundation by August 1, 2018, your individual applications are due to the UNCF/Mellon Programs Office by July 13, 2018. There are a few differences between our application, accessible in the Guidelines, Opportunities, and Responsibilities Booklet and the general pool's application. Note that all applications routed through the UNCF/Mellon Programs require two letters of recommendation, as well as a two to three page statement of research intent and a copy of your passport or passport application. Do not hesitate to contact our office with any questions.



Call for Papers

This is an opportunity for MMUF Fellows to share their work with the MMUF community. As an MMUF Fellow, you can have your work published in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Journal! The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Journal is an annual collection of scholarly works by participants in the MMUF program. You are encouraged to submit works that were the culmination of research conducted under the Mellon Programs, the introduction to a thesis or any larger work, or a paper for a favorite class. 

More information about submission deadlines for 2018 to come.



Junior Year Summer Stipends

UNCF/Mellon Fellows completing the junior year are eligible to receive a summer stipend in the amount of $3,900.00. The summer stipend can be used on a project or projects that will help to facilitate their research and/or graduate school research activities. In the past, Fellows have traveled to different states and countries to conduct interviews, participated in study abroad programs, completed courses in summer school, purchased books, conducted experiments, and visited graduate schools - the possibilities are virtually limitless! However, please note that computer hardware and clothing cannot be purchased with these funds. Fellows are encouraged to work with their faculty mentor to determine the best use of the stipend. To request these funds, Fellows must complete the Junior Year Summer Stipend Request Form and the Project Description Form. At the end of summer, once Fellows have returned to school for the fall semester, they must complete the Junior Summer Project Summary Form.

Click here for a copy of the 2018 Junior Year Stipend Request Form and Project Description Form.

Travel Stipend

UNCF/Mellon Fellows may request a travel stipend of up to $600.00 per year. Fellows may use this stipend to assist with expenses related to traveling to various conferences, institutions, facilities or any other destination, in an effort to supplement their research and facilitate the graduate school selection process. Your Mentor must sign off on your request.

Click here for a copy of the Travel Stipend Request Form.

The International Research Travel Grant

The International Research Travel Grant is a new initiative designed to support the international/global scholarly interests of UNCF/Mellon Fellows and/or participation in intensive language study programs approved by the UNCF/Mellon Programs Office. These grants may be used to supplement pre-existing study abroad plans or to subsidize a summer or fall/spring semester international engagement (for example, attending a conference abroad, conducting research abroad, etc). A limited number of grants of up to $3,000.00 per Fellow will be awarded each academic year. Fellows must submit this completed form, a proposal supporting their need to travel abroad in order to advance their scholarly inquiry and a budget depicting how the funds will be used in order to advance their scholarly research development. Fellows are required to submit a final report detailing how they were able to accomplish their international research goals. Your Mentor must sign off on your request.

Click here to access a copy of the International Research Travel Grant request form.

Research Stipend (Senior Fellows)

As a UNCF/Mellon Senior Undergraduate Fellow, you may request a Research Stipend of up to $400.00. You may use this stipend to assist with expenses related to your research needs. You will need to complete the Research Stipend Request Form and include a budget outlining how you plan to use the Research Stipend. Your Mentor must sign off on your request.

Click here for a copy of the Research Stipend Request Form.

GRE Preparation Stipend (Senior Fellows)

As a UNCF/Mellon Senior Undergraduate Fellow, you may request a GRE Preparation stipend of up to $600.00. You may use this stipend to assist with expenses related to preparing for the Graduate Record Examination or registering to take the exam. You will need to complete the GRE Preparation Stipend Form to request these funds. If you are requesting these funds as a reimbursement, please attach a copy of your registration and payment or copies of your receipts for materials purchased. If you will register for the exam or purchase materials once you receive the stipend, you must forward a copy of all related receipts to our Office once you use the funds.

Click here for a copy of the GRE Preparation Stipend Request Form

About Letters of Recommendation...

Letters of Recommendation: Key Components

  1. Academic references (faculty) best qualified to testify to student’s capacity for graduate work and represent student’s major field

  2. Key elements admissions committees will be looking for include comments about student’s writing skills, research ability, critical thinking, academic growth and maturity, and potential for graduate study.

Important information for students applying to Graduate School:

  1. Students should be alerting faculty that they will be applying to Graduate School and asking the faculty members if they are able to write a letter of reference.

  2. Faculty members have many requests for recommendations throughout the year. It’s in the student’s best interest to provide faculty members with enough information to evaluate them properly. They should remind faculty members in writing of the classes they took, including grades received, and research projects they worked on. Students should provide faculty members with a copy of their transcript, statement of purpose, a research paper, and any materials that may help the faculty member to evaluate them for graduate study.

(Adapted from Dr. Jacqueline Looney's presentation at the 2012 UNCF/Mellon Programs Conference)

About the Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement...

The Statement of Purpose is a very important part of the student’s application. It is the student’s opportunity to tell the admissions committee beyond grades and GRE scores what he or she has to offer. There are five key questions that should be answered in the Statement of Purpose:

  1. Who are you? Keep it simple, focused, relevant.

  2. What is your research interest? You should be as specific as possible about what your research interests—being aware that these interests could change in your course of study.

  3. Why do you want to do it? (And what are your goals beyond earning the degree?)

  4. What prepares you to do it? Your special abilities, strengths and perhaps your weaknesses (honest self-knowledge can be a real asset).

  5. Why this school? (How does it match your research interests).

(Adapted from Dr. Jacqueline Looney's presentation at the 2012 UNCF/Mellon Programs Conference)



  • Reputation of the institution, faculty, and research facilities

  • Availability of fellowships, scholarships, and financial aid

  • Geographic location

  • Availability of affordable housing

  • Social climate and support systems - accessible faculty and administration, physical and mental health services, travel grants for conferences and research, diversity, support for families, etc.

factors in selecting a graduate school

Freshman and sophomore years

  • Assess interests, abilities, and career goals

  • Identify a mentor

Junior year

  • Gather information on graduate programs

  • Gather application materials (online access available for most schools)

  • Learn entrance examination requirements and dates

  • Investigate application deadlines

Pre-senior summer

  • Narrow a list of schools

  • Investigate funding sources

  • Write first draft of statement of purpose

  • Contact recommendation sources

Senior year (EARLY)

  • Select schools

  • Register for entrance exams

  • Submit completed applications

how to start the graduate school preparation process