About the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship

MMUF Program Mission Statement

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was established as a nonprofit philanthropic organization in June of 1969 with a mission to "aid and promote such religious, charitable, scientific, literary, and educational purposes as may be in the furtherance of the public welfare or tend to promote the well-doing of mankind." In 1988, under this broad charter, the Foundation made a long-term commitment to help remedy the serious shortage of faculty of color in higher education through the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program.

In 2003, the Foundation reaffirmed its commitment and broadened the mission of MMUF. The name of the program was changed to the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program, to symbolically connect the mission to the stellar educational achievements of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays. The fundamental objective of MMUF is to increase the number of minority students, and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, who will pursue PhDs in core fields in the arts and sciences. The program aims to reduce the serious underrepresentation on the faculties of individuals from certain minority groups, as well as to address the attendant educational consequences of these disparities. The program serves the related goals of structuring campus environments so that they will be more conducive to improved racial and ethnic relations, and of providing role models for all youth. MMUF aims to achieve its mission by identifying and supporting students of great promise and helping them to become scholars of the highest distinction.

MMUF at Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr College has participated in the MMUF program since its inception in 1988. In any given year, there are ten MMUF students at the College: five seniors and five juniors. The application process is open primarily to sophomores and takes place every spring. The program accepts applications from:

  • Underrepresented minority students interested in pursuing a research project in one of the Mellon designated fields of study (see below).
  • Any student, regardless of race or ethnicity, who has a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities in academia and who wishes to pursue research in one of the designated areas.

In addition, criteria for eligibility include:

  • Interest in pursuing a Ph.D. and an academic career in one of the designated fields
  • Commitment to participating fully in all aspects of the program
  • Willingness to work with a faculty mentor on a Mellon approved research project during the junior and senior years
  • Strong academic promise
  • U.S. students who are citizens, permanent residents, DACA-mented, or undocumented

Fields of Study

The MMUF program has identified 17 fields of study most underrepresented by minorities in the academy.  Interdisciplinary areas of study may be eligible if they have one or more Mellon fields at their core.

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

Research and Mentoring

Guided research is the foundation of MMUF, and it is intended to prepare the student for graduate study. Each fellow is required to conduct an individual research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor during the junior and senior years.

Each fellow will choose and develop a relationship with a faculty mentor with whom she is expected to meet on a regular basis.   Mentor must be an active scholar and professor in one of the Mellon-designated fields. Mentoring represents a serious commitment of time and effort for both students and professors. An MMUF coordinator will meet with you and your mentor periodically to make sure you are engaging actively and productively in the mentoring process. 


Students gather weekly to present their research, exchange and critique ideas, support each other's goals, and participate in professional development workshops.

Students attend lectures or other events at nearby MMUF host campuses, as well. We also plan cultural outings such as attending theatrical or dance performances.


Academic Year: Each fellow is awarded a stipend during the academic year that is disbursed in regular monthly payments. This stipend is intended to facilitate opportunities to engage in research with a faculty mentor by alleviating or eliminating the need to engage in additional paid employment. In exchange for the stipend, the Mellon Foundation expects fellows to conduct research for several hours per week during the academic year.

  • Summer Stipend: The MMUF offers a summer stipend to allow fellows to participate, for a minimum of six weeks, in a meaningful research, learning, or work experience that may be underpaid or even unpaid, and that will enhance and complement studies in their major and advance their Mellon research project. These can include summer institutes such as those offered by the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) and the University of Chicago, as well as relevant internships, intensive language courses, or a carefully developed individual research program under the guidance of a mentor. All fellows will submit a summer funding proposal (including a detailed budget) to the coordinators and faculty mentor in early May. Ninety percent of the funds are awarded when the proposal has been approved and the remaining ten percent will be awarded once the final report on the summer project is received. MMUF summer grant funds must be used for the purposes described in the proposal; unused funds must be accounted for. Changes in students' summer plans must be communicated promptly to program coordinators.
  • Travel Funds: While not guaranteed, travel funds may be available to support fellows' participation in academic conferences or to attend scholarly meetings that may expose students to ideas which expand their comprehension and insight of a research subject or career directions. Students who anticipate a need for travel expenses should speak with the coordinators about the availability of funds and reimbursement procedures.
  • Loan Repayment: Fellows are eligible for up to $10,000 for the repayment of undergraduate loans, provided they enroll in full-time doctoral study within 39 months of graduating from college.
  • Graduate School Grants: Once fellows are enrolled in a doctoral program in a Mellon-approved field, they may apply to present at conferences and participate in workshops and seminars with other MMUF alums, and they also become eligible to apply for grants for conference travel and research expenses. See http://www.ssrc.org/programs/mellon-mays-graduate-initiatives-program/

* Students who receive federal and/or College financial aid should be aware that MMUF stipends may affect their financial aid package. In most cases, the impact will be minimal, but fellows should be in frequent contact with Mellon coordinators and BMC financial aid officers to avoid any problems.

The Mellon Foundation requires each fellow to submit regular records to the Foundation. Both the Foundation and the Bryn Mawr coordinators must have up-to-date contact information for fellows — even after graduation. Because the Foundation is making a long-term investment in its fellows, and collecting information to assess the effectiveness of the program, it is essential that accurate and up-to-date records be maintained on each student. Periodically, you will receive reporting forms (online or hard copy). Please complete and return them promptly.