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The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program is the centerpiece of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s initiatives to reduce the serious underrepresentation of minorities in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning.  The MMUF program is administered by over one hundred campus coordinators at 48 institutions and a consortium of 39 historically black colleges and universities within the membership of the UNCF.

As of 2019, approximately 5,000 undergraduate students have been selected as Mellon Fellows.  The student constituency has the distinction of high academic achievement with a 99% retention and graduation rate.  To date approximately 60% of MMUF students continue on to graduate school shortly following the baccalaureate, of which about 33% directly enter PhD programs.

MMUF has been highly successful. To date, over 800 fellows have earned their PhD and are now teaching around the country.  120 of our PhDs have achieved tenure.  There are over 1,000 fellows at various stages of graduate study, and MMUF continues to attract the best and the brightest undergraduates.

Dr. Benjamin Mays

Benjamin Elijah Mays was born in 1895 in South Carolina and graduated from Bates College in Maine in 1920. While obtaining his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Chicago, he was ordained into the Baptist ministry. He taught at Morehouse College and at South Carolina State College. From 1934 to 1940, Mays served as dean of the Howard University School of Religion and then moved on to the presidency of Morehouse College, a position he held with distinction for the next quarter of a century. He also served his community well, becoming the first black president of the Atlanta school board.

Mays spoke early and often against segregation and for education. He received nearly thirty honorary doctorates and other honors and awards, including election to the Schomburg Honor Roll of Race Relations (one of a dozen major leaders so honored). He was a model for one of his Morehouse students, Martin Luther King, Jr. and he served the young minister as an unofficial senior advisor. Mays gave the eulogy at King’s funeral. Among his books were the first sociological study of African-American religion, The Negro’s Church, published in 1933; The Negro’s God, of 1938; Disturbed About Man, of 1969; and his auto-biography Born to Rebel, of 1971. These books reveal a combination of sharp intellect, religious commitment, and prophetic conviction.

Supported Fields of Study

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship supports the following fields of study:

  1. Anthropology and Archaeology
  2. Area/Cultural/Ethnic/Gender Studies
  3. Art History     
  4. Classics
  5. Geography and Population Studies
  6. English
  7. Film, Cinema and Media Studies (theoretical focus)
  8. Musicology, Ethnomusicology and Music Theory
  9. Foreign Languages and Literatures
  10. History
  11. Linguistics
  12. Literature     
  13. Performance Studies (theoretical focus)
  14. Philosophy and Political Theory
  15. Religion and Theology
  16. Sociology
  17. Theater (theoretical focus)
  18. Interdisciplinary Studies: Interdisciplinary areas of study may be eligible if they have one or more eligible fields at their core, but must be approved by the MMUF staff at the Mellon Foundation on a case-by-case basis. Please note that interdisciplinary education graduate programs, even those that incorporate one or more eligible fields, are not eligible for MMUF graduate benefits.