Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF)


With the support of the Mellon Foundation, Whittier College has established the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, dedicated to increasing faculty diversity in institutions of higher learning.

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program was established in 1988 by William G. Bowen, the then president of The Mellon Foundation. Today, the program has grown to include 48 member schools and three consortia, including three South African universities and a consortium of historically black colleges and universities within the membership of the UNCF. 

Whittier College is part of the West Coast Region of the MMUF program, which includes Caltech, Stanford, University of New Mexico, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCR, USC, and two consortia (five Cal State campuses, and the Claremont Colleges). 

Open to students of all races and ethnicities, the program's fundamental objective is to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups, and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, who will pursue a Ph.D. and enter the professoriate in core humanities and social science fields. It is the goal of the program that these individuals will ultimately help to equalize the ethnic and racial composition of faculties in higher education and address the attendant educational consequences of these disparities.

Annually, five Whittier College students will be selected as Mellon Fellows, and will explore their interest in college teaching in disciplines of special interest to the Foundation. Under the two-year fellowship, selected students will receive financial support to engage in independent research through the academic and summer periods, attend and present their research at local and national conferences, one-on-one support from faculty mentors at Whittier, and will engage with other MMUF Fellows at Mellon-sponsored events.

  • US Citizen, permanent resident, DACA
  • Must have sophomore or first-semester junior standing
  • GPA of 3.0 or better
  • Fulfill the fundamental objective of MMUF: fellows will pursue a Ph.D. degree in one of the core Mellon-designated fields:
    • Anthropology
    • Archeology
    • Area Studies
    • Art History
    • Classics
    • English
    • Ethnic Studies
    • Ethnomusicology
    • Film, Cinema, and Media Studies (theoretical focus)
    • Foreign Languages
    • Gender Studies
    • Geography and Population Studies
    • History
    • Linguistics
    • Literature
    • Musicology
    • Music Theory
    • Performance Studies (theoretical focus)
    • Philosophy and Political Theory
    • Religion and Theology
    • Sociology
    • Theater (theoretical focus)

Selection Criteria

  1. Strong academic promise/standing
  2. Interest in pursuing Ph.D. and enter into an academic career in a Mellon-designated core field of study.
  3. Potential for serving as a mentor and teacher for a wide variety of students.
  4. Demonstrated commitment to the goals of the MMUF mission.
  5. Commitment to participating fully and enthusiastically in all aspects of the MMUF program.

Program Benefits

  • $4,500 for two summers (sophomore/junior) to conduct research with a faculty mentor
  • $4,000 for two academic years (junior/senior) to continue ongoing research with a faculty mentor, cover travel expenses, conference attendances, GRE prep, etc.
  • $1,300 for graduate school preparation
  • $800 for research & miscellaneous expenses
  • Up to $10,000.00 for repayment of undergraduate loans, once the student has matriculated into a Ph.D. program.
  • Continued moral support throughout undergraduate and graduate level studies.
  • Students will continue their studies along with their other MMUF fellows, creating a local, regional. and national cohort of students that are  undergoing the same process, and moving towards the same goal.

Applying to the Program

Fall Semester Cycle: The application is due on the first Friday of November.
Spring Semester Cycle: The application is due on the first Friday in March.

Use this guide to help you gather your application documents. Request these items two weeks prior to the deadline.

Students may be nominated by Whittier College instructors or they may nominate themselves. Each nominated student will receive an email and letter encouraging them to apply. Please read the MMUF Handbook for more details.

A complete application consists of:

  • Unofficial transcripts (a PDF of your DegreeWorks)
  • Current semester Course Progress Report for each 3-4 credit course you are enrolled in.
  • Student Contract
  • Signed and completed MMUF Mentor Agreement
  • MMUF Mentor letter of recommendation
  • Contact Information for an outside recommender: a faculty member that is not within your major or in your project’s area of study 
  • Two Essays
    • Personal Essay: In 5000 characters or less, please describe how your interest developed to pursue a career in academia. Provide examples of the steps you have taken outside of applying for this fellowship to purse this career goal. In addition, describe how attaining a Ph.D. will enable you to participate in eradicating racism and social disparities. 
    • MMUF Essay: In 3200 characters or less, please explain how your personal goals reflect the ideals of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, for whom the MMUF program is named. You can find a brief biography of Dr. Mays at the MMUF website.
  • One graded paper as a writing sample of your work. No blue books.

MMUF Coordinators

Julie Collins-Dogrul
Associate Professor of Sociology
Office: Platner Hall,1st floor
562.907.4200, ext. 4307

Irfana Hashmi
Associate Professor
C. Milo Connick Chair of Religious Studies
Office: Platner 115
562.907.4200, ext. 4846

Jose Orozco
Professor of History
Office: Hoover, 1st Floor
562.907.4200, ext. 4312

About Dr. Benjamin Mays

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

He 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 had been a model for one of his Morehouse students, Martin Luther King, Jr., and he served the young minister as an unofficial senior advisor. He 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; and The Negro's God, of 1938; Disturbed About Man, of 1969; and his autobiography Born to Rebel, of 1971. These books reveal a combination of sharp intellect with religious commitment and prophetic conviction.

The American National Biography website has a comprehensive biography on Dr. Mays. Click here to read more.