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ACM Mellon Grant Opportunity

Lake Forest College is proud to participate in the Graduate School Exploration Fellowship Program (GSEF), one of three main components of the Undergraduate and Faculty Fellows Program to Diversify the Professoriate recently funded by an $8.1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Associated Colleges of Midwest (ACM) and the Big Ten Academic Alliance.

The Program

Lake Forest College will select 2 students each year, through 2020, for the the GSEF program. These students will receive:

1. On-campus mentoring opportunities from Lake Forest College faculty and staff.

2. Participation in two Annual Summits in Chicago in each summer of the program.

2. A paid summer research opportunity following their junior year at one of the research universities that comprise the Big Ten Academic Alliance.*

This program is intended to increase the number of underrepresented students who pursue graduate study, research, and/or teaching careers in higher and post-secondary education.

Check out the FAQ.


The GSEF program is designed for students interested in pursuing study and research in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, and arts. Students at Lake Forest College who are interested in applying for the fellowship should consult the GSEF Application Guide and the GSEF Written Statements Guide.

All qualified sophomores from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply for the GSEF, including:

  • African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, other Pacific Islanders;
  • First-generation college students;
  • Individuals who have followed non-traditional pathways to college due to exceptional talent and motivation in the face of adversity, such as societal, economic, or academic disadvantages; and
  • Individuals with a demonstrated commitment to applying and including diverse backgrounds and perspectives to learning, scholarship, service, and leadership in the academy.

Applicants should indicate a strong interest in pursuing a doctoral degree in the humanities or humanistic social sciences, or a terminal master’s degree in the arts, and/or a genuine interest in academic research and/or teaching at the college level as a career. 

Additionally, students must meet the following criteria for eligibility:
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S., or be a non-US citizen with DACA.
  • Students with DACA status must provide documentation that their DACA status is current and will not expire prior to the end of the GSEF program.
  • Have sophomore standing (or have completed at least three semesters of undergraduate education, or their equivalent in terms or blocks as determined by their home ACM institution). Students must be eligible for an additional two more years of study at Lake Forest College 
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher at the time of application.
  • Be available to fully participate in the program, including mentorship, both annual summits, and the summer research experience.
  • Have a strong interest in pursuing terminal graduate work in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, and/or the arts.  Please note that this does NOT include programs leading to professional degrees, e.g. medical school (M.D.), law school (J.D.), or business school (MBA).

Participation in Annual Summits

All GSEF fellows must attend two Annual Summits hosted by the ACM. Following the completion of the summer research opportunity at a Big Ten Academic Alliance institution or the University of Chicago, all GSEF fellows are also expected to present on their projects at this conference.

Read about the Annual Summits held in Chicago.

Application Process

The campus deadline is March 5 of each year. Applications must be submitted as here.

The application requires a statement of research interest and a personal statement (each no more than 250 words), which should be submitted in pdf format.  (*If accepted to the program, students will update these to reach between 500 - 1,000 words prior to placement with a research host.)

The application also requires two letters of recommendation from Lake Forest College faculty. It is your responsibility to request these letters and ensure they are forwarded to the GEO. Letters of Recommendation should be sent directly to by the recommender.

Application questions should be directed to:

Daw-Nay Evans
Associate Professor of Philosophy 

Summer Research Opportunity at a Big Ten Campus

In addition to the mentoring from Lake Forest College faculty, students participating in the GSEF Program will be expected to complete 8-10 weeks of full-time (~40 hours per week) research on a Big Ten campus during the summer following their junior year.

The objective and goal of the summer research opportunity is to provide the GSE Fellow with a better understanding of what it might be like to become a graduate student pursuing a terminal degree in their field and to cultivate passion and enthusiasm for continuing their studies in the discipline.

Please note that most of the Big Ten institutions have a summer research opportunity program already in place. If placed on one of these campuses, GSEF Fellows will be expected to participate fully in the research directed activities and supplemental coursework (which typically includes: learning to write strong personal statements and abstracts, practicing giving talks, GRE preparation, etc.), and they are strongly encouraged to also attend social activities and other programs for their cohort.

Placement at a Big Ten institution

As part of the application process, students should spend some time reviewing the faculty websites and departmental sites at the Big Ten institutions, and students are encouraged to suggest preferences for specific campuses, departments, and/or faculty members that they feel could provide a good fit for their academic and career interests.

Once you have been chosen as a GSEF fellow by Lake Forest, you are encouraged to review and expand your writing statements. Final drafts of these statements (which you should work with your home campus mentors, career development offices, and/or writing centers to reach between 500-1000 words) should be sent to the ACM Liaison for the Fellows Program (by no later than July 1st) so that their information can be shared with the Big Ten Academic Alliance staff and project coordinators who will match students with faculty mentors based on their academic and research interests.

By the end of March, you will be matched with one or more faculty and/or graduate student mentor(s) at a participating research institution. Please note that although you are welcome to share your preferences for specific Big Ten universities and faculty mentors with the ACM Liaison for the Fellows Program, it is unlikely that you will be matched at your preferred institution and/or with your preferred faculty member as many faculty may be unavailable during the summer.

When the matches have been completed, the ACM Liaison for the Fellows Program will inform each GSEF coordinator and GSEF fellow of the final summer placements, and will follow up to ensure that you have been put in touch with the hosting research institution’s coordinator. Once you have received your matches, please make sure you reach out and communicate promptly and proactively with your summer hosts, to begin building a strong working relationship prior to your arrival.

Fellow Expectations and Benefits

GSE Fellows are expected to take part in two Annual Summits in Chicago. Between their sophomore and junior year, GSEF Fellows will engage in workshops, panels, and presentations that will help begin to prepare for their summer research experience the following summer.

GSE Fellows will receive a $3,500 stipend (funded through the grant) during their 8-10 week summer research experience at a Big Ten institution between their junior and senior year.

Additionally, the programs cover housing and travel as an added benefit, and many (but not all) of the Big Ten institutions offer either a partial or full meal plan. Once the GSE Fellow completes their summer research experience, presents at the Annual Summit in Chicago (August 2018), and meets the expectations of the program as determined by their home campus, they will become eligible for graduate school visit assistance funds during their senior year (up to $1,000.00 per Fellow) and assistance for scholarly-related activities (up to $250.00 per Fellow) through the grant.

While students are encouraged to pursue study abroad and off-campus opportunities, students must plan carefully to be available for the full summer of their research opportunity and the ACM summit.  Therefore, students should be available and ready to be at their research host location by June 1, and should not plan to depart for a fall term program before August 17 (tentative, depending on annual summit dates).

* Big Ten Academic Alliance Institutions 

University of Illinois
Michigan State University
University of Minnesota
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Northwestern University
Ohio State University
Pennsylvania State University
Purdue University
Rutgers University
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Indiana University
University of Iowa
University of Maryland
University of Michigan