Preparing a Strong Application

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 somewhat knowledgeably speak about 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 a depth of knowledge, focus, and familiarity with some of the literature on the issues you hope to study, and should give a sense of the questions and “problem” you hope to solve through your 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 (you can locate a short biography of Mays at

To help you prepare a strong application, you should plan to meet with Elise LaRose, the MMUF Program Director, a few times to discuss your research project, what to expect in the interview and how to secure a faculty mentor. To schedule appointments to see her, please contact the DOS-College Advising reception desk at (773) 702-8615.