McNair Scholars Program


McNair Scholars Program

The TRIO McNair Scholars Program prepares qualified students for graduate study leading to PhD degrees. McNair Scholars receive comprehensive support to earn undergraduate degrees, complete research projects in their fields of study, and apply to graduate schools. 

The program’s limited cohort size provides a close-knit community and helps students gain a broad understanding of research and university culture.


About Ronald McNair

Ronald Erwin McNair was born October 21, 1950 in Lake City, South Carolina. While in junior high school, Dr. McNair was inspired to work hard and persevere in his studies by his family and by a teacher who recognized his scientific potential and believed in him. In 1976, at the age of 26, he earned his Ph.D. in laser physics. 

Because of his many accomplishments, he was selected by NASA for the space shuttle program in 1978. Dr. Ronald E. McNair was the second African American to fly in space. After his death in the Challenger Space Shuttle accident on January 28, 1986, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. This program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair’s life.

Read Ronald McNair's full story

Years Funded by U.S. Dept. of Education
UO Students Served
2/3 or more
of UO McNair Scholars are low-income first-generation college students

McNair Scholars Program

The McNair Scholars Program is a federal TRIO program funded at 151 institutions across the United States and Puerto Rico by the U.S. Department of Education. It is designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. McNair participants are either first-generation college students with financial need, or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic potential. The goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to increase graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented segments of society.

See the Programs around the US

What does the McNair program offer?

The primary purpose of the program is geared toward helping students prepare for and apply to graduate programs. While there is some funding for specific parts of this experience (summer research and the McNair seminar), there is not substantial financial support that the program itself provides for its students. Below are the benefits of being a part of the McNair program and what participants can expect.

Experiences & Benefits
Strengthen academic skills for future graduate study
Receive in-depth advising regarding future plans
Build deeper relationships with university faculty
Prepare for and conduct primary academic research
Present and publish research projects
Writing Research Proposal
The Culture of Graduate School
Presentation & Publication of Academic Research
Academic Research Writing
Applying to Grad School
Asking for Letters of Recommendation
Writing Personal Statements
Finding the Right Fit
Effective Use of the Library & Other Research Tools
PhD Career Paths


spaceship on launch pad

The Launch Pad

Interested in the McNair Scholars Program or similar opportunities in the future?

Join the Launch Pad, a growing community of Ducks interested in undergraduate research and distinguished scholarships.Members will have access to:

  • Workshops on conducting undergraduate research and applying to graduate school
  • Launch Pad Resource Hub on Teams
  • Support in finding research funding opportunities and in applying for scholarships
  • Priority preference if they decide to apply to McNair Scholars Program

Join now

Are you eligible?

Participation requires enrollment at the University of Oregon in part or all of next academic year. Our program is geared towards students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree. Only students who are academically classified as “sophomores” or "juniors" are encouraged to apply. Students must also be either first-generation college students who are low-income AND/OR students from groups historically underrepresented in US higher education.

Apply to McNair Scholars Program

Students entering the McNair Scholars Program must:
Be committed to entering graduate school immediately following the Bachelor's degree, and continue in graduate school for at least 2 years
Have earned at least 45 undergraduate credits and be in good academic standing
Have at least six quarters (including summer) until expected graduation date
Be committed to and available to conduct a summer research project under the supervision of a UO Faculty Mentor
Be in Good Standing with the University of Oregon
Have an attitude of growth and personal development
You are a first-generation student if either:
Neither parent (natural or adoptive) earned a bachelor's degree before your 18th birthday
You resided with and also received support from only one parent who did not earn a bachelor's degree before you were 18
You are a low-income student if:
Your taxable income reported on last year's tax returns does not exceed 150% of the federally defined poverty line
Historically underrepresented groups, according to the Higher Education Act:
Black/African American, Hispanic, Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Native Pacific Islander