Lulu Merle Johnson Fellowships

Lulu Merle Johnson Fellows

The Graduate College’s Lulu Merle Johnson Recruitment Fellowship enhances departmental recruitment packages by offering our most accomplished new underrepresented minority doctoral students: 1) a first year academic non-service fellowship ($20,000), 2) fellowship support for up to four summer terms ($4,500 per summer), and 3) eligibility to be nominated for post-comprehensive fellowships offered by the Graduate College (including the post-comprehensive exam fellowship and the Ballard and Seashore dissertation fellowship). The fellowship is open to US citizens or permanent residents who are Black or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders.

The fellowship is named in honor of Lulu Merle Johnson, Ph.D., the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Iowa and in the state of Iowa (1941). She was also among the first African American women to earn a Ph.D. in history in the United States. Dr. Johnson grew up in Gravity, Iowa. She earned all three degrees from Iowa. After graduating, she served on the faculty of Talladega College (Alabama), Tougaloo College (Mississippi), Florida A&M University, and West Virginia State College before joining Cheyney State University (Pennsylvania) in 1952 as a history professor and dean of women.

Tuition scholarships are paid during the academic years (fall, spring) by the appointing unit for years 2-5, while the Graduate College provides two credit hours tuition and 50 percent of the mandatory fees for the summer terms. Nomination for a Graduate College Underrepresented Minority Recruitment Fellowship must be submitted by the Director of Graduate Studies of the department/program to which the prospective student has been admitted.

Typically fellowships cannot be used in combination with any other source of support (e.g., fellowship/scholarship, grant, graduate assistantships, or employment outside the University of Iowa) since the fellowships are meant to provide protected time for the student to advance his/her studies. Failure to report additional employment can be considered in future applications/nominations/continued Graduate College funding for both the student and the department. For more information or to ask for a possible one-time exception, contact the Graduate College. Please direct any questions to: Executive Director of Operations Donna Welter (335-2145) or Associate Dean Shelly Campo (335-2136) or via email at

Departments/programs may nominate up to two candidates for consideration. Students must be nominated by their departments or programs.

The first cohort of Lulu Merle Johnson Fellows began at the University of Iowa in fall 2018.

Nomination process and requirements (click here)