The fundamental objective of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (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.

The application deadline for MMUF is Monday, March 4, 2019.

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Current sophomores are eligible and encouraged to apply. Oberlin may name up to five (5) Mellon fellows each year. Undocumented students in the DACA program are also eligible to apply. 

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program is open to undergraduates in the following fields, disciplines, and majors at Oberlin College and Conservatory:

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

Selection of MMUF Fellows is based on the following:

  • Academic promise and intellectual curiosity
  • Sophomore status at Oberlin College or Conservatory
  • Undergraduate major in an MMUF-eligible field of study
  • Interest in pursuing a PhD in an MMUF-eligible field of study
  • Potential to serve as a mentor and teacher for a wide variety of students
  • Race and ethnicity (in relation to under-representation 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 participate fully and enthusiastically in all aspects of the MMUF program, including attendance at conferences and meetings.
  • Status as a US citizen, DACAmented student, or permanent resident

Each student chooses a faculty mentor who will serve as a role model and research supervisor. Together the student and mentor devise a program to help develop the student's academic interests in preparation for graduate study.

    Students selected to be Mellon Fellows will be required to participate in the following activities both during the summer and academic year:

    • Conduct research projects under the supervision of a faculty mentor.
    • Attend workshops and seminars designated to aid student research and writing skills and to assist in preparation for graduate school.
    • Present research on campus and at conferences.
    • Attend social gatherings and meetings.
    • Complete a research paper to be turned in at the end of each summer program. A final paper is also required prior to graduation.
    • A $3100 stipend (before taxes) for full-time work during the scheduled summer program
    • Summer housing on campus covered by the fellowship
    • An $1800 stipend (before taxes) for part-time work each semester
    • Up to 3 credit hours each semester for project research/activities (private reading)
    • Additional funds are available for travel and the purchase of books and supplies
    • Up to $10,000 repayment of Stafford and Perkins undergraduate student loans

      1.  Application Form
      Complete the attached form. You and your proposed faculty mentor must each type your own name in the relevant fields at the bottom of the form as an electronic signature, or, when you have finished filling in the other fields, select the “Developer” tab above, click the “Protect Form” button to turn off fields, and add an electronic signature.

      2.  Personal Statement of Purpose
      personal purpose statement (up to 500 words) addressing your commitment to the aims of the MMUF program as indicated in the mission statement above. How have your experiences in college been shaped by underrepresentation of certain groups in academia? What are your goals for the future? In what particular ways do you hope to change higher education by way of those goals? What is your understanding and interpretation of the life and legacy of Dr. Benjamin Mays, after whom the program is named? How is the work that you want to do, in your research and in your life, in conversation with the values he espoused?

      3. Research Proposal
      research proposal (up to 500 words) clearly addressing:

      • the purpose of the project
      • why you are interested in this research

      • what methods you plan to use and why those methods are appropriate for your research aims
      • what preparation or skills you have that make you well suited for this research, and what you hope to learn
      • what you intend to produce during each of the two years of the program
      • a detailed work plan that includes a schedule of how your research will be divided over two summers and two academic years, and what you may need (supplies, books, travel, etc.) to complete that research successfully

      • whom you have selected to be your faculty mentor and how that selection aligns with your proposed research.

      4. Writing Sample
      sample of your strongest academic writing (up to 1500 words or 5 double-spaced pages). The writing may contain creative elements, as long as it also demonstrates analysis and argumentation with a thesis statement and supporting evidence. The writing sample need not be on the same topic as your proposed MMUF research, and there is no need to write anything new. Instead, you can use a clean copy (without instructor’s comments) of something you already submitted for a class.

      5. Unofficial Transcript
      Include your current unofficial transcript from PRESTO saved as a PDF.

      6. Proposed Mentor Statement
      letter from your proposed MMUF faculty mentor clearly addressing all of the following:

      • the soundness of the proposed research project
      • the field(s) and/or discipline(s) in which the proposed research project is located
      • what contributions the applicant's research stands to make to the field(s) and/or discipline(s)
      • why the proposed faculty mentor is interested in working with this student
      • the proposed faculty mentor's travel or leave plans for the entire period summer 2019-spring 2021
      • the proposed faculty mentor's plans for ensuring that the student receives uninterrupted mentorship, should the mentor be away from campus or on leave during any portion of that time

      7. Faculty/Staff Recommendations
      Two letters of recommendation. Recommenders should be members of the Oberlin College or Conservatory faculty or staff who know you and your academic work well enough to comment in an informed way on your potential for independent research and ultimately for an academic career. 

      If the proposed faculty mentor of your research project fits that description, she or he should be one of your recommenders. In addition to sharing thoughts about you as a student or advisee, the proposed faculty mentor should address the soundness of your proposed project, how that project aligns with the faculty member's own interests or expertise, and how the faculty member will meet her or his commitment to mentoring you over the course of two years (including addressing any time she or he anticipates spending on leave or away from campus during that period).

      8. Peer Recommendation (Optional)
      One letter of recommendation from a peer—not necessarily at Oberlin—who can comment on your intellectual curiosity and how you work both alone and in groups.

      9. Personal Interview
      After receiving your completed application, we will contact you to schedule an interview.

      Applications to join the 2019 MMUF cohort are due by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 4, 2019. The 2019 MMUF Selection Committee will select five (5) Mellon Fellows to begin in the summer of 2019. Selected students will be notified after Spring Break.

      If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact Afia Ofori-Mensa, Director, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, by e-mail at or by telephone at 440.775.5201 (or extension 55201 on campus).