The Mellon Research Scholars Program at the University of Houston supports a cohort of students who are highly motivated to conduct research and attend graduate school in the humanities. Funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation, the program aims to train future scholars with the goal of building a diverse academy. Each participant receives a total of $5,000 for conducting a summer research project and participating in developmental academic and mentorship activities from spring of their junior year through spring of their senior year. Participants can also receive up to six points towards the Honors in Co-Curricular Engagement transcript designation.
The 2024 Mellon Research Scholars Program application is now closed. Miss the deadline but still interested in summer research? Check out the SURF program.
Learn More about the Mellon Scholars Program
About the Program
Twenty humanities students will be selected for the program which will begin in the spring. Each participant receives a total of $5,000 for conducting research and participating in developmental academic and mentorship activities. Research in the humanities might include gathering and analyzing primary and secondary sources in your field. It also might involve critically evaluating historical or contemporary texts, journal articles, or scholars. This research culminates in a research paper or project that Mellon Research Scholars present by the end of the summer program. Some Mellon Scholars go on to complete a senior honors thesis. All Mellon Research Scholars will present their summer research at UH Undergraduate Research Day.
How to Apply
Students submit an online application to apply for the program. The online Mellon Research Scholars application asks for candidates’ basic biographical information, a resume, and three short essays. Candidates should carefully review the programming below to determine if the Mellon Scholars Program is a good fit for their research and scholarly interests. If so, then the responses to the short essays should demonstrate their potential fit pursuant to the scope and goals of the program.
One letter of recommendation from a UH professor, preferably from the applicant’s chosen faculty mentor, is also required for a complete application. The application will ask the candidate to provide the name and email for the individual who will submit this letter on the student’s behalf. Candidates should ask for this letter of recommendation at least two weeks before the deadline, and preferably before the end of the fall semester. This letter should describe the student’s qualifications and fit for the Mellon Research Scholars Program and be emailed to Dr. Rikki Bettinger by the Friday immediately following the application deadline.
Candidates are encouraged to secure a faculty mentor within the humanities before applying. Faculty mentors are responsible for guiding the student throughout the program. In their application, students should discuss the research they plan to conduct with their faculty mentor. If students do not have a designated faculty mentor, their application should discuss the research areas that are most of interest to them and why. For information on how to secure a research mentor as an undergraduate, visit the Getting Started in Research webpage.
To be eligible for the Mellon Research Scholars program, applicants should be:
- University of Houston main campus undergraduate students in the humanities who are graduating in Fall 2024 or Spring 2025
- Highly motivated to conduct research and attend graduate school in the humanities
- Able to demonstrate with their research themes the goal of building a diverse academy
Eligible fields within the humanities include:
- Anthropology and archaeology
- Area/cultural/gender studies
- Art history
- Geography and population studies
- Film, cinema, and media studies (theoretical focus)
- Musicology, ethnomusicology, and music theory
- Foreign languages and literatures
- Performance studies (theoretical focus)
- Philosophy and political theory
- Religion and theology
- Theater (theoretical focus)
- Interdisciplinary studies with a humanities focus
If you have a question about whether your field of study qualifies, please contact Dr. Rikki Bettinger.
Spring | Faculty-Led Mellon Research Seminar Series and Proposal Development
The Mellon Research Scholars will attend a faculty-led seminar series throughout the spring semester. Students will be exposed to the types of research currently taking place on campus. University of Houston faculty members in the humanities will present on their research and discuss various graduate school tracks within the students’ fields of interest. During this same semester, students will work with or secure a faculty mentor. Collaboratively, the student and faculty mentor will develop a research proposal to execute during the summer.
May | Mellon Boot Camp on Applying to Graduate School and Competitive Fellowships
Scholars receive $1,000 for participating in a full-time, two-week camp in May. The seminar series will cover topics such as how to find and evaluate graduate programs in your field, writing a personal statement, developing a curriculum vitae (CV), preparing for the GRE, applying for nationally competitive scholarships, and creating a writing sample. During the workshop, the Mellon Research Scholars will be required to develop a personal statement, a CV, and a plan for executing their summer research project. There will also be faculty-led panels on pursuing career trajectories within the humanities, conducting interdisciplinary research, and entering academia.
Summer | Full-Time Research Experience
The Mellon Research Scholars receive a $4,000 fellowship to conduct a full-time, 10-week research experience during the summer. The faculty mentors will guide the students throughout their summer research projects. The Mellon Research Scholars will also attend a weekly lecture series offered by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards. Seminar topics will include employing research ethics, using library resources, and developing a research poster to present at the next UH Undergraduate Research Day.
Senior Year | Continued Research, Graduate Program Application Support, and Undergraduate Research Day
Mellon Scholars may build upon their research by conducting faculty-mentored senior honors theses or independent study projects during their final academic year. Mellon Scholars will also receive support as they complete applications for graduate programs. All Mellon Scholars will present their summer research at the annual Undergraduate Research Day held in April.
Mellon Research Scholars are expected to:
- Attend all Spring seminar events (approximately three times a month, February-April)
- Attend every day of the Mellon Graduate School Bootcamp (two weeks in May)
- Conduct 10 weeks of full-time summer research
- Attend weekly summer webinars coordinated by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards from 12 p.m.-1 p.m. on Wednesdays in affiliation with the SURF program
- Complete pre- and post-program surveys
- Present a research poster at Undergraduate Research Day in April
Participants should also:
- Not enroll in a summer course
- If a student MUST take a summer course for extenuating circumstances, a petition form may be accepted on a case-by-case basis
- Students may not earn course credit for the Mellon program
- Not participate in other full-time summer experiences that overlap or run concurrently with Mellon summer programming
Names and headshots of Mellon Scholars and faculty mentors will be included in the annual Undergraduate Research Day booklet and in other online and print promotional materials.
Mellon Scholars will receive up to 6 points towards the Honors in Co-Curricular Engagement (HCCE) transcript designation (3 points for the summer research component and 3 points for the spring development series and graduate school prep bootcamp). The HCCE transcript designation is awarded to students upon graduation who pursue a broad range of experiential learning opportunities from freshman to senior year. Students can pursue undergraduate research, internships, learning away and abroad, service learning, leadership experience and other academic enrichment opportunities.
UH Undergraduate Humanities Research Program Grows with Mellon Foundation Grant (2020)
Learn more about the Mellon Research Scholars program