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Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is designed to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning. The MMUF provides qualified students with intensive faculty mentoring, term-time financial support for research projects, summer stipends to continue research and the possibility of undergraduate loan repayment if a fellow enters a doctoral program in a Mellon-designated field. The committee selects up to five sophomores per year (students must be U.S. citizens). Candidates are chosen through a competitive application that identifies those who demonstrate academic promise and are committed to the goal of reducing underrepresentation of minority groups on academic faculties.

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Information Session

Save the Date: Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 7 p.m. EST, via Zoom

This virtual event will provide an opportunity for interested and eligible Smith undergraduate students to learn more about the MMUF Program. To register and receive a Zoom invitation, email


The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) is designed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning. There are MMUF programs at more than 80 colleges and universities around the country, as well as international programs (in South Africa).

Faculty/student mentoring relationships form the core of the MMUF program. Faculty mentors help to orient undergraduates toward the pursuit of a Ph.D. and a faculty career through two years of a close research relationship.

The MMUF program has identified the fields of study most under-represented by minorities in the academy. These fields are:

  • Anthropology and Archaeology
  • Area/Cultural/Ethnic/Gender Studies
  • Art History
  • Classics
  • English
  • Film, Cinema and Media Studies (theoretical focus)
  • Foreign Languages and Literatures
  • Geography and Population Studies
  • History
  • Interdisciplinary Studies (interdisciplinary areas of study may be eligible if they have one or more Mellon fields at their core)
  • Linguistics
  • Musicology and Ethnomusicology
  • Performance Studies (theoretical focus)
  • Philosophy and Political Theory
  • Religion and Theology
  • Sociology
  • Theater (non-performance focus)
Faculty/student pairs are formed at the beginning of the fellowship and those relationships are maintained over the two years of the program. The Smith program puts heavy emphasis on this relationship and uses its resources to ensure that students can have the experiences deemed necessary by their faculty mentor for graduate school preparation. Guided by their mentors, students pursue a research topic during the academic year and the summer. The academic year and summer research are supported by a stipend. The research experience helps to prepare students for the rigors of graduate work. Moreover, the close relationship with the mentor helps to lend insight into the life of a college professor.

Fellows receive stipends during the academic year so that they may have more time to focus on their academic work and research. Fellows are NOT eligible for work-study jobs during the academic year. Summer stipends are also awarded to conduct research and to travel.

  • Fellows must attend regular meetings and workshops throughout the year.
  • Fellows are eligible for up to $10,000 for the repayment of undergraduate loans, provided they pursue a Ph.D. in a Mellon-designated field.
  • All loan repayment procedures are administered through the student’s undergraduate institution.

The MMUF is open to sophomores. The MMUF has established the following selection criteria:

  • Academic promise
  • Interest in pursuing an academic career in Mellon-designated fields of study.
  • Potential for serving as a mentor and teacher for a wide variety of students.
  • Race and ethnicity (in relation to underrepresentation in designated fields of study).
  • Demonstrated commitment to increasing opportunities for underrepresented minorities, breaking down stereotypes, increasing cross-racial and ethnic understanding, and enabling others to better understand persons of different races and ethnicities.
  • Commitment to participating fully and enthusiastically in all aspects of the MMUF program, including attendance at conferences and meetings.
  • Status as a US citizen or permanent resident.

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program is a rare opportunity for students to develop as researchers and scholars. All sophomores are welcome to apply, and applications are particularly encouraged from Latinx and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) students.

Application & Selection Process

Applications are due Monday, March 15, 2021, by 4 p.m. EST. All applications are reviewed by the MMUF Advisory Board. The board will select 6–8 applicants for interviews. These finalists will meet with the selection committee for a 30-minute interview. The board will then offer fellowships to five individuals. Selected fellows will meet with the program coordinator and are invited to attend the senior presentation event that will occur at the end of the spring semester.

A completed application consists of an application form, two essays, a faculty consultation form, an unofficial transcript, and one or two faculty recommendations. The letter(s) of recommendation should be from faculty members with whom you have taken a class. All application materials are online. Questions can be directed to the MMUF program coordinator at

Application Forms