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Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program

What is the McNair Scholars Program?

The McNair Scholars Program helps increase the attainment of Ph.D. degrees by students underrepresented in academia and the professoriate. The ultimate goal is to diversify university faculty nationwide.

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.

What does it mean to be a McNair Scholar?

Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D. in NASA uniform

The prestige of being a Cornell McNair Scholar is shared by only a dozen students or so each year. Cornellians who join the McNair Scholars Program form a nationwide community of promising intellectuals. Cornell, as a McNair Program host, stands among UC Berkley, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Purdue, Texas A&M, and Howard University to name a few. Undergraduate scholars prepare for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities over the course of three years.

McNair participants are either first-generation college students with financial need, or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education; they must have demonstrated strong academic potential. McNair Scholars, along with their faculty mentors and staff, are committed to increasing the attainment of graduate degrees students from underrepresented segments of society.

History of the Program and Legacy of Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D.

You are better than enough. You might not come from the most well-to-do social background. You may not have come from the most affluent background. But if you are willing to work hard, sacrifice, and struggle, then you are better than enough.

-Ronald E. McNair

After his untimely death in the 1986 Challenger explosion, Congress approved 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. Learn more about Ronald McNair

What does the program look like for McNair Scholars?

Through participation in McNair Scholars program, we support students to become competitive applicants to graduate school. We do this through:

  • Helping students become highly competitive graduate school applicants
  • Individualized personal and academic advising
  • Faculty and graduate student mentoring
  • Graduate admissions workshops and intensive GRE training
  • Opportunities to attend regional and national conferences
  • Student experience presenting research at regional and national conferences
  • Offering a stipend, room and board for summer research with faculty mentor

Who is Eligible to Participate in McNair?

14 students (7 standing and 7 sitting) all dressed in professional attire and holding certificates in glass frames

An applicant for the McNair Program must either be a:

  • First-generation college student with high financial need OR
  • member of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education

The applicant must also:

  • be highly motivated, dedicated to gaining a Ph.D. and teaching at the university level

  • have achieved sophomore class standing
  • be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States
  • have a minimum overall GPA of 2.75

Interested in Applying to McNair? Check out the McNair Application page!