About the McNair Scholars Program

For many university students, graduate school and doctoral programs may seem a distant goal. For first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students, continuing their education past the baccalaureate degree may seem virtually impossible.

The McNair Scholars Program is designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities.

Founded in 1996 in honor of Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D., the laser physicist and Challenger space shuttle astronaut, the McNair Scholars Program was established to help first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students of any major to apply to and succeed in doctoral programs.

One of the ultimate goals of the program is to help diversify the faculty in colleges and universities as well as those employed in various areas of science.

Program Goals

The goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to help first-generation, low-income students, and especially students who are members of racial/ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education, gain access to graduate education and earn doctoral degrees (Ph.D., Psy.D., Ed.D.).

To achieve that goal, our scholars:

  • Participate in research and other scholarly activities
  • Enroll in appropriate graduate programs after earning their baccalaureate degree
  • Continue on to a doctoral program
  • Earn their doctorate-level degree

Benefits of the McNair Scholar Program

The McNair Scholars Program prepares undergraduate students by providing individual and group services designed to enhance successful entry into post-baccalaureate education. McNair Scholars Program staff and faculty mentors meet with scholars to provide them guidance toward achieving this goal. Scholars are provided with opportunities to attend seminars and conferences.

  • Dedicated faculty mentor in scholar’s area of study
  • Math and Verbal Skills Preparation
  • Graduate School application fee waivers
  • Reduced GRE test fees
  • Paid summer research program, including free room and board ($2,800 stipend)
  • Publication of summer research project in the McNair Research Journal
  • Travel assistance to present research at conferences and visits to prospective graduate academic programs
  • Am I eligible for the McNair Scholars Program?

    Students must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the McNair Scholars Program:

    • Be an undergraduate student
    • Demonstrate strong academic potential
    • Complete a minimum of 60 hours of college credit before summer research begins
    • At least one semester remaining before graduation
    • A U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident
    • Additionally, students must meet ONE of the following criteria:
      • Low-income and first-generation college student (neither parent received a Bachelor’s degree)
      • Member of a government-recognized underrepresented racial/ethnic group in higher education (e.g., Hispanic, African American or Native American)

McNair Scholars Program Staff

Jennifer Zwahr-Castro, Ph.D.
Director, McNair Scholars Program

Chaminade Tower, Room 342

Joshua Dunn, Ph.D.
Assistant Director, McNair Scholars Program

Charles Francis, Room 016

Debbie Rivera
Administrative Assistant, McNair Scholars Program

Charles Francis, Room 016

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