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Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program at Dartmouth

Application Deadline: February 15

The fundamental objectives of MMUF are to reduce, over time, the serious underrepresentation on faculties of individuals from minority groups, as well as to address the consequences of these racial disparities for the educational system itself and for the larger society that it serves.  These goals can be achieved both by increasing the number of students from underrepresented minority groups who pursue PhDs and by supporting the pursuit of PhDs by students who may not come from underrepresented minority groups but have 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 to medical school, law school, or other professional schools. Dartmouth extends its commitment to the MMUF objectives by sponsoring an Associate Fellows program, governed by the same goals and criteria.

Eligibility: Sophomore standing; U.S. student (citizen, permanent resident, or undocumented); intention to major in an eligible field; interest in college or university teaching.

Application deadline: February 15.

Search “MMUF” on Blackboard Organizations

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program Web site

Mellon-Designated Fields of Study

Still have questions?  Contact:

Professor Michelle Warren


Why is it called "Mellon Mays"?

MMUF seeks to extend the legacy of Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays (1895-1984), a distinguished scholar, educator, and social activist who overcame poverty and racism to earn a BA from Bates College and a Ph.D. in Religion from the University of Chicago.  Dr. Mays published several incisive sociological studies of African-American religion and an inspiring autobiography, Born to Rebel. As President of Morehouse College, he mentored many young people who devoted their lives to social justice, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. Mays pursued knowledge relentlessly while dedicating himself to the eradication of racial disparities in all walks of life.

Dr. May's career exemplifies the Mellon Foundation's goals for this fellowship program:  innovative research, committed mentoring, leadership in higher education, and engagement with community.

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Who should apply?

Sophomores, who are:

  1. U.S. student (citizen, permanent resident, or undocumented)
  2. majoring in a Mellon designated field,
  3. committed to the goals of MMUF

Transfer students and Juniors with eligibility questions should contact the Faculty Coordinator

You should be genuinely interested in research, and genuinely open to the idea of an academic career (even if you are not entirely certain of your long term goals). You should also have a demonstrated commitment to increasing educational opportunities for underrepresented minorities.

The selection committee is looking for students with academic ability, intellectual motivation, and a potential interest in pursusing an academic career.  Faculty will be looking for proposals with clarity, focus, and - most difficult to define - an exciting topic.  Ideally the project will lead to a senior thesis.

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Can I apply with any major?

MMUF encompasses a wide range of disciplines, but does emphasize a set of core fields with the strong likelihood of leading to the PhD (rather than to professional degrees like the JD, MD, or MBA) and to careers in college or university teaching. Performance-focused arts concentrations are not eligible. The most pertinent majors at Dartmouth include:

Humanities: Art History, Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures, Classics, Comparative Literature, English, French, Film and Media Studies, German Studies, Italian, Music, Philosophy, Portuguese, Religion, Romance Languages, Russian, Spanish, Theater

Social Sciences: Anthropology, Geography, Government (political theory emphasis), History, Sociology

Sciences: Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Math, Physics, and Astronomy

            ** students in all science fields should check out Dartmouth's E. E. Just program.

Interdisciplinary: African and African-American Studies; Asian and Middle Eastern Studies; Environmental Studies; Jewish Studies; Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies; Linguistics; Mathematical Social Sciences; Native American Studies; Women's and Gender Studies

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How much time is involved?

MMUF supports students in research and demystifies academia. Programming includes:

  • stipends and research grants
  • faculty mentoring
  • travel to conferences
  • discussions with graduate students
  • social events to build community
  • invited faculty speakers
  • skills-oriented workshops
  • formal presentations
  • GRE assistance

Beginning Sophomore Summer, you can expect to meet 4-5 times each quarter with the faculty coordinator and the other fellows, in varying formats. You should also expect to meet 2-3 times each quarter with your faculty mentor and/or advisor. The most substantial time commitment takes place between these meetings: getting to know faculty; following up on suggestions from your professors; researching your topic; writing proposals for grants and fellowships; familiarizing yourself with academic resources and opportunities. Selected fellows should therefore plan to make adjustments in their other commitments (work-hours and/or extra-curriculars).  You should be able to devote an average of several hours a week to MMUF-related activities; off-terms are usually dedicated to research or other projects directly relevant to your academic goals. 

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What questions are on the application?

You will be asked to write 3-5 paragraphs in response to each of the following questions:

1) Why do you want to participate in this program? Reflect on the experiences of Dr. Benjamin Mays and the goals of the fellowship named after him: how are your own life choices, values, or goals reflected in the life of Dr. Mays? Tell us about personal and academic achievements, along with extracurricular involvement, that demonstrate your commitment to the fundamental objectives of MMUF.

2) Describe your academic interests, the Dartmouth courses that have been most influential in shaping them, and your motivation to teach at the college/university level. What steps have you already taken to develop your skills as a researcher and teacher?

3) If you were to work on a research project in your area of major academic interest over the next two years, what topic would you choose and why? Be sure to describe the project in concrete terms, explain its importance to you, and suggest how you might get started on your research. What do you already know and what do you hope to find out? Ideally, this project will lead to a senior thesis.

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How are fellows selected?

On the basis of your application, recommendation letters, and transcript, a faculty selection committee chooses a number of semi-finalists for in-person interviews. Interviews take place in late Winter or early Spring quarter. The interview gives us a chance to learn more about your interests and you a chance to ask questions about the program.

Typically we select a total of 6-8 students, both MMUF Fellows and Dartmouth Associate Fellows. Notifications are sent in mid to late Spring. Unfortunately, we cannot accept every qualified applicant. Even if you are not selected, we hope that the MMUF application process serves as a pivotal step toward realizing your ambitions for graduate study. Going forward, you should:

  • develop strong mentoring relationships with 2-3 faculty members
  • seek out an independent study based on the research you proposed in your application and/or pursue a senior thesis
  • use the MMUF Blackboard site as a resource for graduate school planning, fellowships, academic organizations, etc.
  • familiarize yourself with other research programs offered on campus

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What happens once I’m in graduate school?

Alumni enrolled in doctoral programs have access to a variety of sources for research and mentoring support, including grants, conferences, writing workshops, dissertation fellowships, and professional development seminars.  Fellows are encouraged throughout their trajectory to serve as mentors to their peers, students, and future colleagues.

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  How do I start my application?

Students should prepare applications in consultation with prospective advisors, mentors, and possibly also the MMUF faculty coordinator (Prof. Michelle Warren)

1) Familiarize yourself with the essay questions (listed above).

2) Discuss your research ideas with faculty you know well and/or faculty with relevant research areas. On the application, you will need to name 2-3 faculty members familiar with your plans (you do not need to have taken classes with these professors, but they should be familiar with your plans).

3) Draft answers to the essay questions and request feedback from faculty. You should plan on revising your essays several times. We encourage you to take advantage of RWIT resources.

4) Request two faculty members to write letters of recommendation (be sure to ask well in advance of the deadline). Your recommenders may or may not be the same as your potential advisors, but they should be able to comment knowledgeably about your academic experiences and future plans. Once your recommenders have agreed, send them the online recommendation form through MMUF Blackboard.

5) Enroll yourself into the MMUF Blackboard site in order to submit your materials by February 15, 11:59pm. Once on the site, open the Applicants folder and follow the instructions.

6) Contact the MMUF faculty coordinator, Prof. Michelle Warren, with questions at any time.

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How do I enroll in Blackboard to complete my application?

  1. Log in to Blackboard
  2. On your home page, locate the "Tools" box on the left
  3. Click on "Organization Directory"
  4. Search for "MMUF"
  5. When the link appears, look to the right for a small gray box: click it and select "enroll"
  6. “MMUF” will now appear on your Blackboard home page in the box labeled "My Organizations" (not the same box as "My Courses")
  7. From the MMUF homepage, open the Applicants page from the menu on the left, and follow the instructions for "How to Apply." When you are fully enrolled, you will see three links: Request Recommendation Letters, Submit Application Form, and Submit Essay Answers.

Troubleshooting:

  1. If you see the words "My Organizations" but nothing appears below, click on the small rectangular icon on the far right of the bar that says "My Organizations" to expand the list
  2. If you do not see the words "My Organizations,” click on "Personalize Page" at the top right corner of your blackboard homepage and add a column for "My Organizations"
  3. Still having problems?  Send a blitz to "undergraduate research"

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Last Updated: 7/22/14