On this page you will find everything that you need to know about becoming a Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellow
- Selection & Eligibility
- Supported Fields of Study at USC
- Financial Assistance
- Undergraduate Program
- Graduate Program
- Postdoctoral Program
Fellowships are awarded to USC sophomores and juniors during the spring semester. Participation in the program is limited to students considering graduate study towards a Ph.D. in Mellon-supported fields.
Participation is not limited by a student’s undergraduate field of concentration.
**The program is not intended for students interested in attending business school, law school, or medical school.**
The following factors are considered in the selection of fellows:
Sophomore standing (juniors are welcome to apply), pursuing a major or minor in a Mellon-approved field of study (see a complete list of Mellon-approved majors and minors below).
Interest in pursuing an academic career in a Mellon-designated field of study
Potential for serving as a mentor and teacher to a wide variety of students.
Demonstrated commitment to increasing opportunities for underrepresented populations, 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 US citizen or permanent resident.
Fellows receive a stipend of $1600 for the fall and spring semesters to support their research efforts. Additionally, during the summer months, each fellow receives a $3,600 stipend.
The Mellon Mays Fellowship offers a loan forgiveness program to help students overcome disincentives to pursue an academic career caused by undergraduate loan indebtedness. Fellows who enroll in a Mellon approved Ph.D. program within 39 months of receiving their undergraduate degrees are eligible for up to $10,000 in undergraduate loan payments. The program repays guaranteed student loans in installments. The first $5,000 is disbursed in yearly increments of up to $1,250 for four years. The second $5,000 is paid upon receipt of the Ph.D., provided the degree is completed within six years.
Information regarding loan repayment is available at MMUF Loan Repayment.
Annual Western Regional Conference
The USC, Stanford University, Heritage University, Whittier College, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Los Angeles, and Cal Tech Mellon programs collaborate to host an annual regional conference. The conference provides an opportunity for fellows to meet each other, discuss research ideas, and motivate each other to succeed in their academic and personal lives. It is typically held near the end of the fall semester (early to mid November or early December), at one of the seven campuses.
Workshops, Meetings, and Other Activities may include:
- Mellon Fellows Mandatory Monthly Meetings
- Research Course for fellows
- Graduate School Workshops on various topics
- Attendance at national conferences with mentors
Fellows work with their mentors to develop their scholarly interests into research projects. The interaction that occurs between mentors and fellows typically includes:
- development of a plan for working together and a timeline for completion of the project
- regular communication (meetings, emails, phone calls, reviews of report drafts, etc.)
- exchange of articles or suggested readings about research or topics of interest
Fellows are expected to present their research through scholarly articles, oral reports, workshops, conferences, multimedia displays, and at USC 's annual Undergraduate Symposium for Scholarly and Creative Work.
Senior fellows also have the opportunity to publish their research in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Journal.
The Pre-doctoral Research Grant, administered by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), is available to graduate students during the earlier stages of their program. The grant is dispersed in five progress related installments, totaling $5,000. It may be used to cover research related expenses such as books, data collection, computer usage and hardware, travel associated with research, printing, and reproduction costs.
Annual Graduate Student Summer Conference
The SSRC-Mellon Summer Conference provides:
- a venue for interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration
- assistance in the transition from undergraduate to graduate school
- opportunities for graduate students to come together from disparate campuses to develop ideas and networking
- a forum for MMUF students to share their scholarship
- an opportunity for participants to address critical issues in higher education
Travel, Research, and Dissertation Grants
Graduate students who have completed all coursework and passed their qualifying exams are eligible to apply for Travel & Research Grants, administered through the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (WWNFF). Travel and Research Grants provide graduate students with financial support to complete research at the dissertation writing stage. Funding is for one summer or one semester of travel and/or research support. These competitive grants carry a maximum of $5,000 per student.
Dissertation grants provide graduate students, ready to complete the PhD, with up to $20,000 for one year to finish the dissertation. Awards are competitive.
For more information, please visit:
There are many opportunities for graduate student participants outside of USC. Please visit our Support Programs page for more information.
Faculty Career Enhancement Fellowships
The Faculty Career Enhancement Fellowship is administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (WWNFF). Its purpose is to support the research and promotion of former MMUF Fellows during their third year of a tenure track position. This competitive award includes a $30,000 stipend, a $1,500 research, travel or publication stipend, and an annual retreat.
For more information, please see the MMUF site.
United Negro College Fund (UNCF)/Mellon Faculty Career Enhancement Program
Funds are available to ABD faculty members teaching at UNCF member institutions. The funds may be used to complete research for the PhD or to participate in summer workshops and/or seminars that will enhance their academic careers. Applications must be submitted to the UNCF/Mellon Director.
For more information about this program, please visit the UNCF site.
There are many opportunities for Postdoctoral program participants outside of USC. Please visit our Support Programs page for more information.
The program has given me the generous financial support necessary to conduct a thorough, insightful research project. They have given me the opportunity to work with a renowned Andean archaeologist, Ran Boytner. They flew me out to the MMUF Regional Conference at Stanford where I was able to meet other fellows, discuss my research with archaeological specialists, and learn how to prepare effectively for graduate school. Overall, the benefits have been outstanding and I am very thankful for being a part of this program.
2009-2010 MMUF Fellow
This fellowship has instilled in me the importance of conducting research that is both personal and timely, as well as the urgency behind mentoring the next generation of scholars interested in disentangling the lives of working class communities of color. My belief in the power of substantive and enduring mentorship is in large part informed by this fellowship’s tireless efforts at every stage of my undergraduate and graduate education.
Department of American Studies and Ethnicity
Participation in MMUF has ultimately been life-altering. Education is the single most galvanizing element in my life and it is in large part because of MMUF that this is true. I found a larger community to attach myself to--one that had similar goals and ambitions but also understood the many challenges that I would face as a woman and person of color.
Shana L. Redmond, Ph.D.
Department of American Studies & Ethnicity