Frequently Asked Questions about the Mellon Mays Program

The program is for students in their last two years before graduation at UCR (traditionally called the ‘junior’ and ‘senior’ years.)

Students in their second year or who will be enrolled at UC Riverside for at least two more full years are eligible to apply. Eligible students will have completed at least 90 units of instruction*, have a 3.3 GPA or above, be interested in research, and be willing to consider graduate school in the fields listed on this site.

In addition, applicants must demonstrate their active commitments to addressing issues of social inequality and injustice, furthering the goal of a diverse academy, and bringing historically marginalized or underrepresented perspectives to the academy, including by producing scholarly research that reflects and satisfies the aims of the program.

Students who have applied to transfer to UC Riverside are also welcome to apply to our program. If accepted, transfer students are conditional fellows, pending completion of their SIR (Statement of Intent to Register) at UCR. Undocumented residents of California may apply, but international students are not eligible for the program.

*To be eligible to apply in their second year, students must be on track to complete 90 units by the end of that year. If you have questions about your eligibility, contact us.

Mellon Mays fellows receive:

  • One-on-one mentorship from a faculty member
  • Experience pursuing an independent research project
  • Close relationships with a cohort of like-minded scholars
  • $4,000 in academic year stipends
  • $4,500 in summer research funds
  • Funds to cover research-related travel and research expenses, including MMUF regional conferences each fall
  • Up to $10,000 in undergraduate loan repayment when fellows pursue Ph.D.s in approved fields
  • Personal interaction with professors, visiting lectures & scholars
  • Workshops on writing, presentation, and professional communication skills
  • Assistance with GRE and graduate school preparation
The program accepts applicants from the following majors/disciplines. Applicants should also remember the program is designed for students who intend to pursue (or are strongly considering) graduate study in one of the areas of study listed below. If you have questions about your major, contact us.

Anthropology & Archaeology
Area/Cultural/Ethnic/Gender Studies
Art History
Geography & Population Studies
Film, Cinema & Media Studies (theoretical focus)
Musicology, Ethnomusicology & Music Theory
Foreign Languages & Literatures
Performance Studies (theoretical focus)
Philosophy & Political Theory
Religion & Theology
Theater (theoretical focus)

A fellowship is not employment, but it is also not free money (like a scholarship.) You can think of a fellowship as an agreement to conduct research and participate in a program. In exchange, fellows receive financial support, mentorship and other benefits.
Have you ever been so curious about a topic or fascinated by a problem that you thought about it constantly, read books or articles, looked up resources, and/or wondered why no one had solved the issue before? That is what research faculty do: They pursue questions that intrigue them by reading, talking to experts, surveying people or by using other academic methods that help uncover new information or insights on an important topic. If this sounds interesting to you, then our program may be right for you. If you have already had some experience with research, great! If not, we will help you.
Students in a graduate program take classes and work with a faculty mentor to develop an in-depth research project that contributes new knowledge to a field of study. In a master’s program, students write a thesis. In a Ph.D. program, students complete a book-length project called a dissertation. Many students obtain a master’s degree at the same time they are studying for a Ph.D. and often go on to become professors or researchers at universities and colleges.
We understand that graduate school can seem intimidating or too far in the future to consider. Through workshops and mentorship, the Mellon Mays program helps fellows think through their options and explore the ways graduate study contributes to their goals. Fellows take the GRE and prepare a writing sample, personal statement, and other documents needed to apply to a graduate program.  Fellows also hear from faculty and current graduate students about the Ph.D. experience.
Though professional training and certification are important, the Mellon Mays program does not provide support for students intending to pursue law, medicine or other professional degrees.
Yes! Our program is seeking students who enjoy research and want to get the most out of their education. In most cases, University Honors research projects or departmental honors projects/senior theses can count toward the completion of the Mellon Mays research project.  Students involved in other research programs, like University Honors, should make sure they are aware of the requirements for both programs.  While we allow students to complete the same project across two programs, we still require students to complete all our program requirements: participate in seminar, travel for the MMUF conference, attend quarterly events, etc.
Share your travel plans on your application so that we can help you determine if our program fits your plans.
Fellows agree to develop a research project with their mentor and to write a paper or produce a creative project by the end of two years in the program. Additionally, fellows agree to prepare graduate school applications. During the program, fellows participate in weekly meetings, meet twice a month with their faculty mentor, and attend an annual conference. In between school years, fellows attend a summer research program—organized by the MMUF program coordinators at UC Riverside—and develop their project focus.
Transfer applicants who are eligible for our program are encouraged to apply for MMUF at the same time as they apply to UCR. Transfers should request recommendations from their current professors and should submit a writing sample from a course at their current university.  When evaluating applicants, we examine your transferable GPA (this is the GPA you earned in credits that will transfer to UCR).  Transfer applicants must also apply to a major consistent with the disciplines listed above.  Even if you intend to double major, the major you apply to must fit our program’s disciplines.

Because our program’s application cycle works on a different schedule than transfer admissions, you may hear about your admittance into the program before you hear from transfer admissions.  If we admit you to the program before you hear from UCR’s admissions, we will offer you a conditional acceptance.  This means you will officially be in our program once you complete the Statement of Intent to Register (SIR). Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Yes! Support, funding, workshops, and networking opportunities continue even after Mellon Mays fellows complete their undergraduate degrees. Membership in the national Mellon Mays program provides benefits, membership and encouragement throughout a former fellow’s academic career.  We like to say, “Once a Mellon, always a Mellon!”

Each year, the Mellon Foundation sends a short survey to all Mellon Mays fellows. Completing the survey each year and keeping email addresses up-to-date with the foundation ensures that fellows receive notices about special events and grants available as they continue their academic careers.

Loan Repayment Program

After successful completion of their undergraduate program, fellows are eligible for up to $10,000 of undergraduate loan repayment.  Fellows must enter a Ph.D. program in a Mellon-approved field within 39 months of graduation from UC Riverside.  Undergraduate loans are repaid in lump sum installments over the course of the fellow’s graduate studies. Recent graduates are advised to stay in touch with UCR coordinators and to keep the program updated on their status. Questions about loan repayment should be directed to the Administrative Coordinator:

Mellon Mays Gap Assistance Program

MMGAP is a set of post-baccalaureate resources and events for Fellows taking a gap year and preparing to apply to Mellon-approved doctoral programs in six or 12 months. This transitional program is a bridge between the fantastic support Fellows receive in their undergraduate programs and the myriad funding and development opportunities that Woodrow Wilson and SSRC offer to graduate students and PhDs.

Don’t see your question here? Get in touch with a program coordinator.