Mellon Degree Programs


In 2015, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded UC Irvine’s School of Humanities a $2.7 million grant to pilot a major initiative to transform graduate education by streamlining the process for obtaining the Ph.D. degree and launching humanities scholars into professional careers. Commonly referred to as the “5+2” program, this model for graduate education allows students to complete the dissertation in five years, followed by up to two-years as a Mellon Humanities Faculty Fellow (MHFF).

To facilitate a five-year dissertation, participating 5+2 programs have adjusted course work and examination requirements—and, in some cases, alternative lengths and forms to the dissertation itself—all with full respect to the practices and standards of their disciplines. In addition, 5+2 students benefit from increased financial support to facilitate research and writing, close faculty mentorship, professionalization workshops offered through Humanities Commons, and paid participation in the Mellon Summer Teaching Institute. Students who successfully complete their doctoral programs within five years of matriculation are eligible to apply for a one-year appointment as a Mellon Humanities Faculty Fellow (MHFF), which is renewable for an additional year. 

Participating "5+2" Graduate Programs


Spanish and Portuguese
Visual Studies

"5+2" Financial Support

At UC Irvine, we feel an ethical imperative to provide financial support for the entire duration of a student’s graduate studies whenever possible. Although all Humanities Ph.D. students are admitted with a five-year funding package, 5+2 students are admitted with additional funding to allow for more time to pursue research and writing during their accelerated doctoral programs. All 5+2 admission funding packages include a:
  • First-year fellowship with a $20,000 stipend and tuition coverage
  • Summer stipends following years one through four ($4,000 as of 2018)
  • Fifth-year fellowship with a $20,000 stipend and in-state tuition coverage

Humanities Faculty Fellow (MHFF)

All students who complete their Ph.D. degrees by the spring quarter of their fifth year and have demonstrated a record of strong scholarship and teaching become eligible for a one-year appointment as a Mellon Humanities Faculty Fellow (MHFF), renewable for one year. As a MHFF, teaching responsibilities include a four-course load, primarily in the interdisciplinary, writing intensive Humanities Core, with the possibility of teaching one course in the home department of their graduate program. Equally important, the four-course load affords time to pursue personal scholarship and prepare the completed dissertation for publication. The School of Humanities also provides additional professionalization support during this time of appointment, including a $1,000 fund to support research-related activities, assistance in publication and job application, guidance in pedagogy, an introduction to the digital humanities, and exploration of alternative academic (alt-ac) careers (if applicable). For more information about MHFF, click here. For more information regarding the Mellon Humanities Faculty Fellow, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

• Will I be able to successfully complete a dissertation in five years?

The creep toward thicker dissertations and longer times to complete the Ph.D. has been constant for the past forty years. We believe that at UCI we can break from that trend. We design our curricula so that students can be fully engaged with writing their dissertation by the summer following their third year. We provide summer funding so that students need not interrupt their research to obtain seasonal employment. On the dissertation itself, we will make no compromises with quality, and we still expect the dissertation to serve as strong evidence of professional competence. The 5+2 program is designed to allow students and faculty to explore the possibility of alternative lengths and forms of the dissertation—an especially intriguing prospect in this digital age. The dissertation can then be developed in a number of different directions—from digital presentations, to museum exhibitions, to published articles, to a book manuscript—during the +2 MHFF years.

• Can I still teach Summer Session if I’m part of the 5+2 program?

You may, but we would encourage you not to. The purpose of the additional summer funding is to allow you time to work on your research without interruption.

• Am I required to teach Humanities Core while a graduate student?

Most graduate students will do most of their teaching in their home departments. However, many graduate programs feel that their students also benefit from teaching outside their home departments. Because all professors teach students how to write, we especially encourage students to consider applying for appointments in the Composition program or in the Humanities Core class. Students who do teach in one or both these classes will enhance their chances of being selected as a MHFF at the end of their five years.

• If I take a Leave of Absence (LOA) during my doctoral studies, is that leave still counted toward my five years of graduate study?

We understand that lives are complex, and various events can occur that require students to pause their studies. Students who take an LOA, which they normally can do for up to one year, will stop their five-year clock during their period of absence. Students considering an LOA should meet with their faculty advisor and the Humanities Office of Graduate Study to discuss the impact an LOA has on their program of study and benefits.

• Am I disqualified from UCI if I do not complete my dissertation in five years?

Absolutely not. The 5+2 program should be considered an opportunity, without impending punishment. Students unable to complete in five years can still apply for Teaching Assistantships. However, they will not be considered eligible for appointment as a Mellon Humanities Faculty Fellow (MHFF).

• I have additional questions not addressed here. Whom should I contact?

Please feel free to contact Amy Fujitani with any additional questions about our Mellon Degree Programs.