The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program information and selection criteria was updated on Thursday, October 19, 2023.


The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) is a two-year program designed for outstanding students in Mellon-designated humanities, arts, and social science fields who intend to pursue a PhD and a career in academia. Mellon Mays Fellows work closely with faculty advisers and graduate mentors to design and carry out an independent research project. They are encouraged to complete an honors thesis in their home departments, where available.

Established in 1988 to address the barriers that result in the problem of underrepresentation in the faculty ranks of higher education, the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) is committed to supporting a diverse professoriate and to promoting the value of multivocality in the humanities and related disciplines, elevating accounts, interpretations, and narratives that expand present understandings. Its name honors Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, the noted African American educator, statesman, minister, and former president of Morehouse College.

For more information about the MMUF program, go to


The Mellon Foundation is dedicated to elevating the knowledge that informs more complete and accurate narratives of the human experience and lays the foundation for more just and equitable futures.

Student applicants to MMUF will be evaluated on the basis of their prior coursework, their plans for a major, and their potential to bring historically marginalized or underrepresented perspectives to the academy, including by producing scholarly research that reflects the Mellon Foundation’s goal to create more complete and accurate narratives of the human experience.

Some research themes and rubrics that may satisfy this goal include, but are not limited to, the following: historical and contemporary treatments of race, racialization, and racial formation; intersectional experience and analysis; gender and sexuality; Indigenous history and culture; questions about diaspora; coloniality and decolonization; the carceral state; migration and immigration; urban inequalities; social movements and mass mobilizations; the transatlantic slave trade; settler colonial societies; and literary accounts of agency, subjectivity, and community. While it is not required that student applicants work within the above or related rubrics, preference may be given to applicants who do.


Fellows enroll in the Research Practice 194A: Mellon Mays Research Seminar and independent research courses each quarter, and they conduct summer research their junior and senior years (junior year in an MMUF program at another campus and senior year at UCLA). In winter quarter of their junior years, Fellows enroll in Research Practice 120: Research Today. Fellows must apply to and participate in a Departmental Honors Program if it is offered by their department. Fellows receive Graduate Record Exam (GRE) preparation, assistance in completing graduate school applications, and professional development.

Fellows receive quarterly research stipends totaling $4,000 junior year and $4,000 senior year, as well as $4,500 each summer (please see the Program Details tab for more information on summer enrollment requirements). Fellows must maintain full-time status during fall, winter, and spring quarters to remain eligible for funding and the program. Fellows enrolling in PhD programs in Mellon-designated fields within a defined time period after graduation are eligible for repayment of up to $10,000 of their undergraduate loans.

Additionally, Mellon Mays faculty mentors receive a $500 Faculty Mentor Service Award each academic year.

Click here to download a copy of the MMUF program overview.


The UCLA MMUF program includes intensive undergraduate research, completion of a senior thesis project, and preparation for graduate school. Students interested in applying for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship must meet the following criteria:

  • Junior level standing (at least 90 units), and a spring or summer 2025 degree expected date
  • Minimum 3.25 GPA (transfer students without an established UCLA GPA are exempt from this requirement)
  • US citizens, permanent residents, AB 540, DACA, and undocumented students are eligible to apply
  • Commitment to research and intention to enroll in a PhD program
  • Cannot be a concurrent recipient of a research program scholarship while participating, including those through the Undergraduate Research Centers, AAP, College Honors, the Center for Community Learning, Education Abroad Programs, or academic departments
  • Superb scholarly promise in a major that includes work in one of the following Mellon-designated fields at UCLA:
    • Anthropology and Archaeology
    • Area/Cultural/Ethnic/Gender Studies
    • Art History
    • Classics
    • Geography and Population Studies
    • English/Comparative Literature
    • Film, Cinema, and Media Studies (theoretical focus)
    • Musicology and Ethnomusicology
    • Foreign Languages and Literatures
    • History
    • Linguistics
    • Performance Studies (theoretical focus)
    • Philosophy and Political Theory
    • Religion and Theology
    • Sociology
    • Theater (non-performance focus)
    • Interdisciplinary Studies: Interdisciplinary areas of study may be eligible if they have one or more Mellon field at their core.


Application Deadline: November 15, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.

Click here for detailed application instructions: MMUF Application Instructions.

The application opens in early to mid-October. Visit MyUCLA, click on “Campus Life,” and select “Survey” to access the “Undergraduate Research Fellows Program (URFP), Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF), and McNair Research Scholars Program” application, and check the “Mellon Mays” box. Applicants may also apply to URFP and McNair.

The application includes 4 components:

  1. Research proposal
  2. Personal statement
  3. Short MMUF prompt
  4. Letter of recommendation from your faculty mentor. Be sure to ask your faculty mentor early and provide them with the MMUF Letter of Recommendation Form.

If you would like help or feedback on your application materials, you can schedule an advising appointment with a Graduate Research Mentor to discuss your project. The Undergraduate Research Center also hosts MMUF info sessions and workshops on how to write a research proposal. Click here for a list of current workshops and info sessions.

Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. All materials must be submitted by the November 15 deadline.

Undergraduate Research Center –
Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
A334 Murphy Hall
Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
(310) 825-2935


view Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows


Please see below for additional details about the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF).


MMUF prepares students for an academic career by beginning research now. Many students have never formally conducted research before entering the program. Applicants should show superb scholarly promise in a Mellon-designated field and a proposed research project that can be pursued with the close guidance of a faculty mentor. 


MMUF is committed to supporting a diverse professoriate and to promoting the value of multivocality in the humanities and related disciplines, elevating accounts, interpretations, and narratives that expand present understandings. To accomplish this goal, MMUF prepares undergraduates for graduate school in Mellon-designated fields and provides benefits for fellows during their time as undergraduates, graduate students, and junior faculty. Applicants should have a strong interest in entering a PhD program and a career in the professoriate. The MMUF program provides GRE preparation and other professional development opportunities.


Transfer students are eligible and encouraged to apply. All applicants must have a letter of recommendation from the UCLA faculty member who has agreed to mentor their MMUF project. However, transfer students (and all applicants) may also submit additional letters of recommendation, including those from community colleges. Similar to all applicants, transfer students apply for the program in November, receive a decision in December, and begin as fellows in January. As the program is a two-year program, only first-year transfer students and transfer students who plan to stay for the duration of the two-year program are eligible.


  1. Review eligibility, program requirements, and application instructions. Contact the Undergraduate Research Center if you would like to discuss your project and any questions with a Graduate Research Mentor.
  2. Complete the application by November 15. Please ask your faculty mentor to submit a letter of recommendation for you by November 15 as well. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.
  3. The UCLA MMUF committee will contact you in late December regarding your application to the program.


The MMUF incoming cohort size is five undergraduate students (for a total of ten undergraduate students participating in the program each academic year). Please do not let this number discourage you from applying! If you do not apply, you won’t have the chance to participate in the program. Because the program is competitive, however, we strongly encourage you to apply for other undergraduate research programs as well, including the Undergraduate Research Fellows Program, the McNair Research Scholars program, the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, and the UCLA/Keck Humanistic Inquiry Undergraduate Research Award.


The summer after their first year of the fellowship, all MMUF fellows are required to participate in a summer research program (such as Leadership Alliance, the Summer Research Opportunities Program, the University of Chicago MMUF programat another college or university, unless there are extenuating circumstances. In addition to providing research training and graduate school preparation, these summer research programs allow you to make valuable connections with faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates at other institutions. We encourage new fellows to look at summer program opportunities soon after beginning the fellowship, as application deadlines often occur in late January to early February. Fellows are also required to conduct research during their second summer in the program and must complete an SRP 99 or departmental 199 to be eligible for the summer stipend. 


MMUF students automatically receive fee waivers to apply to UCLA for graduate study. Fee waivers and reductions are available at many other institutions by advanced request. Contact the school(s) to which you are applying to inquire. MMUF students may also receive up to $300 in reimbursements for PhD program applications during their senior year.


Mellon Mays Gap Assistance: Fellows who do not apply to graduate school during their second year of the fellowship can apply for assistance in the gap year(s) between undergraduate education and graduate education. Click here for more information.

Loan repayment: Fellows entering PhD programs in Mellon-designated fields within 39 months of graduation from their undergraduate institutions are eligible for repayment for their undergraduate loans up to a maximum of $10,000.

Access to MMUF graduate student resources: MMUF partners with the Social Science Resource Council (SSRC) to provide the SSRC-Mellon Mays Graduate Initiatives Program. Grants include:

  • Dissertation Completion Grants (up to $2,500 once during PhD)
  • Predoctoral Research Development Grants (up to $3,000 once during PhD)
  • Graduate Studies Enhancement Grants (up to $1,500 annually during PhD)

Each fellow may receive a maximum of $5,000 in Graduate Studies Enhancement and Predoctoral Research Development funds. Dissertation Completion Grant funds do not apply toward this total. Learn more here.

The SSRC-Mellon Mays Graduate Initiatives Program also offers additional resources, including:

  • Gradate Student Summer Conferences
  • Proposal Writing and Dissertation Development Seminars
  • Dissertation Writing Retreats
  • Regional Lecture Series
  • Ph.D. Professional Development Conferences
  • Seminars on preparing for the professoriate