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McNair Scholars Program

Program and Benefits

Who is the McNair Scholar?

The McNair Scholar is an undergraduate with a record of academic success and plans to attend graduate school. A doctorate or professional degree is not a distant, abstract goal for McNair Scholars. Each scholar makes a commitment of effort and time to develop skills necessary for success in graduate school while still working toward his or her bachelor's degree.

What McNair Scholars have most in common is a dedication to the process of higher education. It is in this dedication, as well as their intellectual curiosity and ambition, that they uphold the spirit of the program's namesake: Dr. Ronald E. McNair, the African-American scientist/astronaut whose life and career were cut tragically short in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.

Applicant Requirements

  • Complete 30 credit hours and be an undergraduate at Kansas State University
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Be a low-income and first-generation college student or a member of an underrepresented group in higher education
    • For definitions of these terms, see Eligibility Requirements.

McNair Scholars are expected to participate fully in the program. Full participation is briefly described below and the terms of the program are spelled out in a series of contracts signed by the scholar.

Scholars are expected to maintain the academic standards of the program and to work at developing the skills necessary for success in graduate school. Any scholar who refuses to sign or fails to uphold the terms of a contract may be removed from the program or placed on probationary status.

Eligibility Requirements

Low-Income status is defined as the following by the U.S. Department of Education:

  • An individual whose family’s taxable income for the preceding year did not exceed 150 percent of the poverty level amount.
  • For current amounts, see the Department of Education’s website.

First Generation status is defined as one of the following by the U.S. Department of Education:

  • A student whose natural or adoptive parents did not complete a baccalaureate degree.
  • A student whose natural or adoptive parents attended college but did not graduate with a baccalaureate degree.
  • A student who, before the age of 18, regularly resided with and received support from only one parent who did not complete a baccalaureate degree.
  • A student who, before the age of 18, did not regularly reside with or receive support from a natural or adoptive parent.

Underrepresented status is defined as the following by the U.S. Department of Education:

  • Black (non-Hispanic)
  • Hispanic
  • American Indian
  • Alaskan Native
  • Native Hawaiian
  • Pacific Islander

For more information on TRIO and the Department of Education, see the Federal TRIO Programs’ website.

What is the McNair Scholars Program?

The McNair Scholars Program is a comprehensive, two-year program structured to prepare undergraduates for successful careers as graduate students, professors, and professional researchers. This preparation is offered in the form of classes, colloquia, advising, tutoring, faculty mentoring, and the completion of a Summer Research Internship.

Initially, McNair staff help scholars create an Academic Development Plan to see that students are making good progress toward their academic goals and preparing themselves to meet the challenges of graduate education.

How do McNair Scholars benefit from the program?

The research and presentation experience gained by McNair Scholars prepares them to succeed in graduate school, but also strengthens their applications, helping them to get into the graduate programs of their choice. Through participation in social and cultural activities, scholars gain a better understanding of diverse cultures, including the culture of academia. They also benefit from getting to know other high-achieving students bound for graduate study, as the McNair group forms a learning community to support higher academic achievement.

In addition to the seminars and research opportunities, McNair Scholars benefit from a wide range of other services, including:

  • Assistance with undergraduate progress
  • Tutoring
  • Technology access and assistance
  • GRE prep and testing fee assistance
  • Graduate school search and application assistance
  • Graduate school application fee waivers
  • Introduction to resources for financing graduate school
  • Offsetting expenses for conferences and school visits
  • Special fellowship opportunities