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McNair Program

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Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program

The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program (also known as the McNair Scholars Program) is one of 187 such programs nationwide. First established in 1989, the program is named after Dr. Ronald E. McNair, an American physicist and astronaut who was killed in the tragic Challenger explosion in 1986. The McNair Program honors Dr. McNair's legacy of academic excellence and staunch persistence in education. The McNair Scholars Program has been in existence at TCU since 1991.

The McNair Program is designed to support academically talented students from traditionally underserved backgrounds reach their potential by earning a doctoral degree. The program is one of eight TRIO education programs housed in the U.S. Department of Education, and the only one primarily focused on students’ post-baccalaureate success. 


The purpose of the McNair Program is to increase the number of undergraduate students earning doctoral degrees who are lesser-income and first-generation, or who come from communities underrepresented in graduate education. 


  • Research or Scholarly Activity: 85% of McNair Program participants served during the project year will have completed appropriate research or scholarly activities during the McNair Program academic year.
  • Enrollment in a Graduate Program: 40% of McNair Program bachelor’s degree recipients will be accepted and enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program of study by the fall term of the academic year immediately following the completion of a bachelor’s degree.
  • Continued Enrollment in Graduate Study: 80% of first year graduate students will continue to be enrolled in graduate school at the beginning of the fall term of the next academic year.
  • Doctoral Degree Attainment: 12% of McNair Program participants served will attain a doctoral degree within ten (10) years of the attainment of a bachelor’s degree.

Per federal mandates, a student is eligible to participate in the TCU McNair Program if the student meets all the following requirements:

(a) Is a 

(1) Citizen or national of the United States; OR
(2) Permanent resident of the United States; 

(b) Is currently a junior or senior (with at least a year left before graduation) enrolled in a degree program at TCU and has a minimum 3.0 GPA (A GPA of less than 3.0 may be considered as space allows.)

(c) Is 

(1) A first-generation college student1 with lesser income  OR

(2) A member of a group that is underrepresented in graduate education; these groups are Black, Hispanic, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, and Native American Pacific Islanders.

(d) Has not enrolled in doctoral level study at an institution of higher education.2

(e) Has a STRONG desire to attain a Ph.D.3

1 Lesser-income status is determined by annual taxable household income limits set by the U.S. Department of Education. First-generation status refers to an undergraduate neither of whose parents earned a baccalaureate degree or, in the case of a custodial parent, this parent/guardian did not earn a baccalaureate degree.

2 Postbaccalaureate students and students who already have one bachelors degree are not eligible for the program.

3 Students whose career goals only include a medical (MD) or other professional degrees (JD, MBA, PharmD, etc.) are not eligible for the program.

  • Research and scholarly opportunities
  • Seminars and other educational activities for doctoral studies preparation
  • Tutoring
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) preparation
  • Academic counseling
  • Mentoring with faculty, staff, and individuals from the community
  • Cultural enhancement opportunities
  • University and college campus visits, tours, professional conferences, etc.
  • Graduate school application assistance
  • Potential to earn up to $2800 in stipends for research 

To complete an application, please submit all four of the following:

  1. McNair Scholars Application (Click here to access. Please sign electronically.)
  2. Essay (Please upload into application.)
  3. Most recent copy (2021) of the IRS Form 1040 Individual Income Tax Return.
    Note: Form 1040 is the strongly preferred and easiest option, but the other below items of proof of household taxable income will suffice: (A) a signed statement from the individual’s parent or guardian, (B) verification from another governmental source, or (C) a signed financial aid (i.e., FAFSA) application. (Please upload into application.)
  4. Two (2) Letters of Recommendation from higher education faculty who can speak to your research and writing skills. An additional third letter can be submitted from a non-faculty member. Within the application portal, you will be given a link to provide to your recommenders. Recommenders should submit directly via the link.