Columbia Mellon Mays Minority Undergraduate Program

With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Columbia College has established a fellowship program (the MMUF program) for minority undergraduates considering graduate study toward the Ph.D. in fields in which minorities have been most severely underrepresented. Under the terms of the Mellon grant, participation in the program is open to Black/African-American, Latino/Hispanic and Native American undergraduates who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. and considering graduate study toward the Ph.D. in American and English literature, Foreign Languages and Literatures (including area studies), History, Philosophy, Classics, Religion, Art History, Musicology, Anthropology, Mathematics, Physics, Geology, Ecology, or Earth Science. Please note that participation in the program is not constrained by undergraduate major or fields of concentration. Moreover, students need only be considering graduate study toward the Ph.D. in one of the appropriate fields to be eligible for the program; there need not be a commitment to pursue graduate study.

The goal of the Columbia MMUF program is to engage talented minority undergraduates, selected during the spring term of the sophomore or junior year, in the process of research and other important facets of academic life, thereby encouraging their interest in academic careers. The program is structured to address two issues contributing to the small numbers of minority group members who pursue Ph.D.s: (1) lack of familiarity with the nature of academic careers, and (2) relatively high undergraduate loan indebtedness. Under this program, promising candidates will be identified and helped to establish mentoring relationships with members of the Columbia faculty. To overcome any disincentive to pursue an academic career caused by high undergraduate loan indebtedness, participants who pursue a Ph.D. in one of the designated fields will be eligible to have up to $10,000 of their undergraduate guaranteed student loans repaid by the Mellon Foundation.

How does Columbia MMUF Program work?
Students can be awarded the fellowship during the sophomore or junior year in college. This represents a change from the past when eligible students had to be in their first year of undergraduate study. See below for terms of award based on year of acceptance.

Students Accepted During the Sophomore Year
For students awarded during the spring of their sophomore year, the fellowship program will begin the following fall with the student's participation in an interdisciplinary colloquium. Approximately five times each semester, the Columbia MMUF program will sponsor a "Conversations Series" at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies. The seminar will bring leading scholars from colleges and universities across the country who explore a wide range of issues that have shaped and continue to define the experiences of African-Americans and other people of color in the U.S. and abroad. After each meeting, one or two fellows will be invited to dinner with the speaker, the MMUF director, and other faculty from the University. All MMUF fellows are expected to attend the seminar.

During the fall of the junior year, fellows will be matched with a faculty mentor to explore areas of interest and gain an understanding of research techniques within a particular discipline or disciplines. Students will meet regularly with the mentor throughout the semester and will have the opportunity to work closely with the faculty member during one of two possible summers of funded research (see below).

Students Accepted During the Junior Year
For students awarded during the spring semester of the junior year, the fellowship will begin in the summer immediately following the award. Strong junior applicants will have already participated in individual research projects or research with a faculty member prior to applying for the Mellon fellowship. Strong applicants will also have identified a faculty member who has expressed interest in working with the student during at least one summer research experience (see below for more information).

During the academic year, students are required to attend the "Conversations Series" seminars (see above for details). Students will also continue their relationship with the faculty mentor throughout the senior year, meeting regularly throughout the semester. As fellows prepare applications for PhD programs, the MMUF program director will arrange workshops with faculty and graduate students on topics related to graduate school enrollment.

Summer Research Experience
The summer before the senior year, all fellows are eligible to participate in a "summer research experience," where they will have the opportunity to pursue research and curricular interests by taking a language course, a computer course, visiting another campus to work with a member of the faculty, or traveling to research libraries in this country or abroad.

During the summer after the senior year, students will have the opportunity to compete for an additional summer of funded research. Students who have applied for PhD programs will receive preference for these funded research slots.

Funding in the Columbia MMUF program is organized into four categories.

1. Students selected for the program will receive stipends of $1,500 per academic year. If the student is not receiving financial aid, the amount will constitute an award; if the student is required to work as part of their financial aid package, the award will replace the first $1,500 of the work-study requirement.

2. Students are eligible for travel allowances of up to $400 per year for costs related to research activities.

3. Fellows who successfully meet the requirements of the program will earn $3,000 for up to two summers of funded research. The award is guaranteed for all fellows during the summer before the senior year. Fellows will compete for research funding for the summer after the senior year.

4. For fellows who enroll in a PhD program within three years after graduating Columbia College, the Mellon Foundation will repay one-eighth of the student's total undergraduate loan indebtedness during each of the first four years (up to a maximum of $1,250 per year) they are engaged as full-time graduate students pursuing the Ph.D. The remaining balance of their undergraduate loan indebtedness (up to $5,000) will be repaid after they receive the doctoral degree, which should be completed within six years from the beginning of graduate work.

The Columbia MMUF grant will support four cohorts of juniors and seniors over four years. Up to five sophomores and juniors will be selected each spring for participation in the program during the junior and senior years in college.

The Columbia MMUF program is directed by Professor Mignon R. Moore. Professor Moore will chair a committee to review the applications. Participants will be chosen on the basis of their academic performance, level of interest in pursuing graduate study toward the Ph.D., a brief application, letters of recommendation, and overall promise as scholars.

Applications are due by Friday, April 11 at 3pm and should be addressed to:

Columbia Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship Program
Attention: Prof. Mignon Moore / Mr. Shawn Mendoza
Institute for Research in African-American Studies
Columbia University
758 Schermerhorn Extension, Mail Code 5512
1200 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027

Click for application form.

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