Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Mellon Mays Fellowship?

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program is the centerpiece of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's initiatives to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning. The fundamental objective of MMUF is to address, over time, the problem of underrepresentation in the academy at the level of college and university faculties. This goal can be achieved both by increasing the number of students from underrepresented minority groups (URM) who pursue PhDs and by supporting the pursuit of PhDs by students who may not come from traditional minority groups but have otherwise demonstrated a commitment to the goals of MMUF. The MMUF program is designed to encourage fellows to enter PhD programs that prepare students for professorial careers; it is not intended to support students who intend to go on to medical school, law school or other professional schools.


Who should apply?

Sophomores, who are:

1.      U.S. student (citizen, permanent resident, daca-mented, or undocumented)

2.      genuinely considering graduate study in a Mellon designated field,

3.      committed to the goals of MMUF

Student applicants should be passionate about research, teaching, and mentorship, genuinely open to a career in higher education, and committed to helping promote inclusion and diversity in the academy. We are particularly interested in applicants who have a demonstrated love of scholarly inquiry and intellectual exchange. The selection committee will be looking for applications that present a focused and interesting research question and provide evidence of a commitment to increasing educational opportunities for all students.

I am an undocumented or daca-mented student. Am I eligible?

Yes! We welcome applications from undocumented and daca-mented students. If you have any questions about pursuing graduate study as an undocumented or daca-mented student, please don't hesitate to contact Dr. O.

Can I apply with any major?

The MMUF provides support for students with a wide range of disciplinary emphasis. Applicants should be considering a career in college-level teaching and research in one of the following fields: Anthropology; Archaeology; Area Studies (e.g., East Asian Studies, Africana Studies); Art History; Classics; Computer Science; Cultural or Ethnic Studies (e.g., African American Studies, Latin American Studies); Gender Studies; Geography and Population Studies; Earth/Environmental/Geological Science and Ecology; English; Film, Cinema and Media Studies (theoretical studies, but NOT production); Musicology, Ethnomusicology, and Music Theory; Foreign Languages and Literatures; History; Linguistics; Literature; Mathematics; Oceanographic/Marine/Atmospheric/Planetary Science; Performance Studies (theoretical focus); Philosophy and Political Theory; Physics and Astronomy; Religion and Theology; Sociology; Theater Studies (non-performance focus). 

Students who are planning on pursuing a M.D. or a J.D. are not eligible.


What are the program benefits?

The MMUF program supports fellows in their academic and personal journey toward the Ph.d. by providing them with:

  • A strong, supportive community of fellow researchers, writers, and thinkers
  • Financial resources in the form of stipends during the academic year and research funding during the summer months.
  • Faculty mentorship
  • Professional development opportunities, including academic conference attendance, GRE preparation, training in research and writing strategies, graduate application mentorship, etc.
  • Eligibility for loan forgiveness up to $10,000 (contingent upon entrance into and successful completion of a Ph.D. program)


What is the time commitment?

The time commitment varies as your research projects progress. Typically, MMUF students should anticipate spending approximately 8-10 hours/week attending Mellon workshops and activities and working on their independent projects. All MMUF fellows attend an annual retreat in September and meet weekly at Mellon workshops. In addition, fellows are expected to have regular mentoring meetings with their Mellon faculty mentor. Fellows should keep in mind, though, that between these scheduled meetings, they should be making active progress on their independent research and preparation for graduate school. Summer months should be dedicated to research or other professional development opportunities related to these academic goals.


Does the MMUF require that I complete an independent project in addition to my JP or Senior Thesis?

Not necessarily. We recognize that each Mellon fellow at Princeton will be pursuing independent work through their JP and Senior Thesis. We expect that the MMUF fellowship will allow you to devote even more of your time and energy to developing these projects so that they best reflect your scholarly goals. That being said, some scholars do choose to pursue a separate independent project that allows them to do work outside of their chosen thesis topic or discipline.


How do I apply?

Please visit to check this year’s application dates and access the application.

Application components include:

  • Personal Data Form
  • Research Proposal: Throughout the fellowship, each MMUF fellow works to develop their own scholarly voice by pursuing an independent research project. This project might be, or lead to, the JP and Senior Thesis—or it might be an additional academic pursuit.
  • Personal Essay: Describe your interest in and motivation for an academic career that would further the objectives of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program to address, over time, the under-representation of minorities in college and university faculties.
  • CV
  • Writing Sample of an Academic Argument
  • Princeton Transcript
  • Other Transcripts (if applicable)
  • Two Letters of Recommendation


How do you select fellows?

A selection committee comprising faculty and administrators will review applications and choose a slate of semi-finalists for interviews. Applications are typically due in mid-March and decisions made in mid-April. Typically, five students are selected as Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows.

We weigh the following criteria in selecting fellows:

  • academic promise, passion for scholarship, and love of intellectual exchange
  • interest in pursuing an academ­ic career in a Mellon-designated area of study
  • potential for serving as a mentor and teacher for a wide variety of students;
  • demonstrated commitment to the goals of MMUF: to reduce the serious underrepresentation on faculties of individuals from minority groups, as well as to address the consequences of these racial disparities for the educational system itself and for the larger society that it serves.
  • availability for, and commitment to, full and enthusiastic participation in all aspects of the MMUF program, including attendance at conferences and meetings;

All students are welcome to apply for MMUF, though applications are particularly encouraged from African Americans, Latinos and Latinas, Native Americans, and other under­represented minorities (URM).


Any questions?

Contact Dr. Afia Ofori-Mensa (Dr. O) at [email protected]