After graduating from Bates, Benjamin Mays held several teaching positions, teaching math, and then later, English, at South Carolina State College. From 1934-1940, Mays served as dean of religion at Howard University, in Washington, D.C. In 1935, he earned his doctor of philosophy in religion from the University of Chicago.
As president of Morehouse College, Mays achieved his widest scope of influence in civil rights and education. During his term, Mays enacted an early admission program, and in 1944, a fifteen year old Martin Luther King, Jr. was accepted, along with other talented eleventh grade students. Mays was remembered as being such an inspiring figure for students, and, according to legend, when he was scheduled to speak in Sale Hall Chapel on Tuesdays, no student would dare cut chapel. Mays also challenged his students to higher aspirations, and to develop great ideals.