Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship

Mellon Mays


The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF) of Harvard College selects a small cohort of sophomores to join a tightly-knit research community to conduct independent research in close collaboration with a faculty mentor and engage in pre-professional development workshops and seminars on pursuing doctoral degrees, research, and life in the academy- during their junior and senior years. The MMUF program exists to counter the underrepresentation of marginalized groups in college and university faculties nationwide, specifically in fields within the humanities and humanistic social sciences, and thus, encourages students of color, students from marginalized backgrounds, and others with a demonstrated commitment to racial diversity to pursue academic careers.

MMUF program at Harvard is jointly supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and by funds from Harvard College. Its name symbolically connects the mission to the stellar achievements of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, educator, college president, and civil rights activist. The program has been at Harvard since 1990. For more than a decade to date, Harvard College has co-funded the program enabling more talented undergraduates to join the fellowship program.

Fellows Receive:

  • Mentoring from individuals at all levels – their faculty mentors, program staff, and MMUF alumni
  • Guidance on how to find research mentors and sustain relationships, build positive skills for thriving in research, and more
  • Access to a cohort of scholars doing research in humanities and social sciences and learning about graduate school
  • Opportunities to network and present research to peer Mellon Mays fellows from other institution’s program at the regional Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship conferences
  • Financial award: term-time stipend (for two academic years) and summer research support (for two summers), contingent upon satisfactory program participation

Program Expectations

Fellows Must

  • Conduct independent research in the humanities and social sciences, under the guidance of a Harvard faculty member, for the duration of their tenure as a fellow.
  • Participate enthusiastically in bi-weekly cohort meetings, on topics such as:
    • faculty research
    • effective research communication
    • graduate school admissions
    • the life of a graduate student
    • the life of professor
    • post-graduate opportunities
    • graduate education funding opportunities and much more.
  • Attend and participate one Northeast MMUF conference per fellowship year
  • Meet with campus program coordinator, each semester, for a check-in advising meeting
  • Submit program deliverables: research progress reports, draft statements of purpose, research abstracts and final capstone papers/theses.
  • Present their research, as seniors, at the annual Harvard MMUF Research Symposium

Sample Programming
Throughout the academic year, fellows engage in programming that introduce them to graduate school and academic life as well as help them build skills for writing and presenting one’s research, managing time and other critical thriving skills for researchers. See Sample Programming for a sampling of programming fellows can expect in the academic year. 

Eligibility & Selection


Students eligible to apply are sophomores at Harvard College, who:

  • Are concentrating in fields in the humanities and social sciences
  • Are intending on pursuing independent research during their junior and senior years within their concentration.
  • Are interested in graduate school, specifically, doctoral (PhD) studies in fields of the humanities and humanistic social sciences, where people of color have been most severely underrepresented (reference:
  • Are U.S. Citizens, permanent residents, recipients of DACA, and undocumented students. International students may apply, but if selected as fellows, they are not eligible for Mellon grant-associated post-graduate benefits.
  • Demonstrate commitment to the goals of MMUF:
    • to reduce the serious underrepresenta­tion on faculties of individuals from minority groups
    • to address the consequences of racial disparities in the educational system and society at large

All students who met the above criteria are eligible to apply. Applications are particularly encouraged from students who are African-Americans, LatinX, Native Americans, as well as those from marginalized backgrounds (first generation college student, low-income, etc.).

Important notes:

  • The fellowship is not intended for students who wish to pursue law school, medical school or other professional education.  
  • Students concentrating in the sciences are no longer eligible to apply to the current fellowship.


Current Fellows

To learn about the 2019-2020 Harvard Mellon Mays Fellows, please click this link.






What if my concentration is not one listed in the Mellon approved field of study?

This doesn’t matter. Undergraduate concentrations do not need to be in the Mellon approved list. However, if you plan to continue for a PhD and receive funding from the Mellon Foundation, you must be in a Mellon approved field.

Can I apply as a junior? No. Students are selected during their sophomore year with the idea that each student participates in the Fellowship for two academic years. Therefore a junior will not be able to participate fully in the program and is thus not as strong an applicant as the sophomore students.

What if I don’t have a faculty mentor? If you don’t have a mentor at the time of the application, we will help students identify a faculty mentor within their fields of interest. However, students who apply with an idea of faculty with whom they might work tend to be stronger applicants than students who have given no sense to their research and faculty interests.

Contact Us


Dr. Pamela J. Gaddi
Assistant Director, Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships | (617) 495-5095

Phone: (617) 495-5095

The MMUF Journal

The Harvard Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program has published the MMUF Journal annually since 1995. For more information, as well as electronic copies of the journal, please visit the MMUF Journal webpage