McNair Scholars Program

For many university students, advanced degrees and graduate school may seem a distant goal. For first generation, minority and financially challenged students, continuing their education past the baccalaureate degree may seem virtually impossible.

The Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement 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 program is designed to help increase the number of underrepresented students in graduate programs and, ultimately, help diversify the faculty in college and universities and those employed in various areas of science.

The McNair Scholars program helps undergraduate students interested in all types of doctoral degrees and from all majors, but students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in Engineering and Computer Science are particularly sought.

Now Accepting Applications for McNair Scholars. Click here.

Program Goals

The goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to help first-generation, low-income students, especially students who are members of 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 will:

  • 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
  • Graduate assistant openings

Benefits of the McNair Scholar Program

A McNair student at commencementThe McNair Scholars Program prepares undergraduate students by providing individual and group services designed to enhance successful entry into post-baccalaureate education. McNair Scholar 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
  • GRE test preparation
  • Graduate School application fee waivers
  • Reduced GRE test fees
  • Paid summer research program, including free room and board ($2,300 stipend)
  • Publication of summer research project in the McNair Research Journal
  • Tuition waiver for required spring semester McNair research course
  • Travel assistance to present research at conferences and visits to prospective graduate academic programs


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 year remaining before graduation
  • A U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident
  • Maintain a minimum 12-hour course load per semester
  • Additionally, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria:
    • Low-income/high financial need
    • First generation college student (neither parent received a Bachelor’s degree)
    • Member of a government-recognized ethnic or racial minority (Hispanic, African American or Native American)


Issue 7 – Spring 2016
Issue 6 – Fall 2015
Issue 5 – Spring 2015
Issue 4 – Fall 2014
Issue 3 – Spring 2014
Issue 2 – Fall 2013



Do you have questions or need more information on the McNair Scholars Program?

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

Samadhi Metta Bexar, Ph.D.
McNair Scholars Program Assistant Director

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