Preparing an Application: Guidance, Info Sheets & Session Dates

Pursuing a PhD is a rigorous life choice. Consequently, our application process is a rigorous one. Successful applicants reflect upon and are able to clearly communicate responses to questions such as:

  • “Why do I want to earn a PhD in this field?";
  • "How and why does this field excite me?";
  • "How do I envision the Mellon Mays program assisting me in my future goals?";
  • "Why am I uniquely qualified to participate in the University of Chicago’s Mellon Mays Program?"

It is very important that you prepare a thoughtful statement on what you would like to take on as a research project. You should be able to speak about, somewhat knowledgeably, the questions compelling your inquiry. You should also expect that in writing your statement of research interest, you will need to edit it a number of times. The statement should convey some depth of knowledge, focus, familiarity with some of the literature on the issue, and should give a sense of the questions and “problem” you hope to solve, over the long term, through research.

In the interview, you should be able to persuade the application review committee that you have the passion, focus and determination that will be necessary to carry you through a PhD program and beyond. Also, you should be prepared to address why your aims and goals would honor and mirror, in some way, the life and work of Dr. Benjamin Mays.

2017 Information Sessions & Application Support:

To help you prepare a strong application, write to us at and tell us that you are interested. 

February to early April:

You should expect to meet a few times with someone involved in the program. At these meetings we will help you get started on putting together a statement of interest and research project, prepare you for what to expect in the interview and discuss how to approach a faculty member to write you a letter of recommendation. As of April 6, 2017, we will not be offering any additional group information sessions.

APRIL 6 through Deadline--Meetings Are Scheduled as Needed

If you would support in completing your application--due April 13--please write to us at We will arrange an individual meeting time to speak with you about the program, and to discuss the application.

Additionally, in preparing your application, please review the information linked below: