McNair is one of eight TRIO programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Its purpose is to prepare eligible participants for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. Participants come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have demonstrated strong academic potential. Institutions work closely with participants as they complete their undergraduate requirements. Institutions encourage participants to enroll in graduate programs and then track their progress through to the successful completion of advanced degrees. The goal is to increase the attainment of Ph.D. degrees by students from underrepresented communities.
Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D.
Dr. Ronald Erwin McNair, Physicist and Astronaut, dared to dream. In 1971, he graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T State University with a B.S. in physics. In 1976, at the age of 26, he earned his Ph.D. in laser physics from MIT. Dr. McNair soon became a recognized expert in laser physics while working as a staff physicist with Hughes Research Laboratory. He was selected by NASA for the space shuttle program in 1978 and was a mission specialist aboard the 1986 flight of the shuttle Challenger. After his death in the Challenger explosion in January 1986, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage college students with backgrounds similar to Dr. McNair's to enroll in graduate studies. This program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair's life.