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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.

Through a summer research experience and programming throughout the academic year, McNair Scholars have an opportunity to sharpen their research and academic skills necessary to achieve admission to and successfully complete graduate study. McNair Scholars will have access to the following opportunities: 

  • 8-week summer research experience with a University faculty mentor from their discipline with similar research interests
  • Summer research stipend of up to $2,800. Additional financial support throughout the year for graduate school visits and conference travel.
  • 3-course credits offered (Introduction to Research course)
  • Weekly seminars on strategies for academic success and graduate school preparation
  • Opportunities to present research at multiple conferences and other academic spaces
  • Chance to build community with a cohort of McNair Scholars
  • Year-round seminars and advising services

McNair Participation at a Glance*:

Sophomore Year Junior Year Junior Year (cont'd) Senior Year


  • Orientation to the McNair Program
  • Participant Mentorship Program


  • 8-week Summer Research Experience at TCU 
  • Seminar Series: Graduate School Preparation & Professional Development I


  • Seminar Series: Graduate School Preparation & Professional Development III
  • Present at TCU Student Research Symposiums and external conferences


  • Seminar Series: Finishing Graduate School Applications
  • Graduate school visit(s)


  • Intro to Research course (3 credit)
  • Propose research for Summer Research Experience


  • Seminar Series: Graduate School Preparation & Professional Development II
  • Present research at TCU McNair Fall Research Symposium in September

Summer (Rising Senior Year)

  • Participate in external Summer Research Experience or study abroad
  • Take GRE (if applicable)


  • Acceptance to graduate schools
  • McNair Recognition & Graduation Ceremony

*Juniors and seniors are eligible provided they have an available summer left before graduation to conduct research.

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 rising sophomore, rising junior,  or rising senior (with an available summer left before graduation) enrolled in a degree program at TCU and has a minimum 3.0 GPA (A GPA of less than 3.0 will 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 $2,800 in stipends for research 

McNair faculty mentors are the main contributors to the success of the McNair Scholars Program because they assist students in developing professional work habits, research skills, and personal relationships to assist them in future doctoral pursuits. Through directly engaging in scholarship and research, students receive individual attention from mentors and integrate into the research team. Students work closely with mentors to design and execute a research project. The mentor assists the student to develop not only conceptual and technical skills, but enhanced understanding and knowledge of the graduate school process. More information about the faculty mentor role can be found here.

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. 

Applications are being processed on a rolling basis and will be accepted until all spaces are filled. The priority deadline is Feb 15, 2024 for the next round of interviews for the 2023-2024 cohort.


Check out the video below to learn more about why you should apply to become a McNair Scholar.

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