Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I am eligible for the McNair Program?
Eligibility depends on three criteria: first-generation student, low-income, and underrepresented ethnicity/race group. To see if you qualify for the low-income criteria, find your family income on tax forms 1040: line 43, 1040A: line 28, or 1040EZ: line 6. Then, you may refer to the Federal TRIO Programs Current-Year Low-Income Levels chart. Find your household size and if your family income is less than the given amount, you are considered low income by the program.

In regards to underrepresented groups, McNair considers the following as underrepresented: Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African American, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. If you self-identify with either of these groups, you meet the criteria for underrepresented group.

Ethnicity/Race Breakdown:

Hispanic or Latino Means a person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
Native American or Alaska Native Native American/Alaskan Native refers to a person having origins in any original peoples of North and South American (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or attachment.
Asian A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asian, or the Indian subcontinent, including for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Black or African American A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. 
White A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander A person having origins in any of the original people of Hawaii or other Pacific Islands such as Samoa or Guam.

The McNair program requires that 2/3 of the fellows meet both the first-generation and low-income criteria. However, you are still encouraged to apply if you meet 2 out of the 3 criteria. If you need assistance with determining eligibility, you may contact McNair staff.

I am an international student, am I eligible for the program?
No. Only US Citizens or Permanent Residents are eligible to apply for this federally-funded US Department of Education program.

My GPA is below a 3.0. Should I still apply?
We highly recommend a 3.0 GPA at minimum to be a competitive applicant to graduate schools. If you are very close to 3.0 GPA, you may apply, but the program may require you to participate in appropriate university services to ensure your GPA increases each semester.

Does it matter if I have already done research or been a participant in a research mentorship program?
If you have already conducted research or currently conducting research in a lab, all the better. You now have a head start for McNair. But, prior research experience is not required.

What if my parent(s)/guardian(s) did not file for taxes?
Email Ronnie Hendrix at to submit a non-tax file form.

Can I still apply even if I am not currently in a lab or have a research project/questions?
Yes, students are encouraged to apply even if not currently in a lab or have a research project/question. However, in your application essay, we do request that you discuss a potential research question and topic that you would be interested in exploring for your McNair research project. This is an undergraduate research program and having an idea of what you might like to explore will help you do well in the program.

Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
Two letters of recommendation from FACULTY are required for the application. You may provide third recommendation from an academic advisor, or someone who you have worked closely within a research capacity, or someone knows you very familiar. It is always a good idea to ask people who you know will write excellent letters of recommendation for you. Look for someone who will be able to speak about your academic achievements, and your ability to do well and successfully complete the McNair Program and, eventually, graduate school. Letters from immediate family members are not acceptable.

What if I am not sure I want a Ph.D.?   
The mission of the McNair Program is to diversify faculty in U.S. institutions of higher education by reducing the barriers to the Ph.D. for underrepresented individuals in graduate education. The McNair program recognizes that first-generation/low-income undergraduates and undergraduates of color have a number of career possibilities to consider outside of academia. However, the mission of the program is to increase the number of Ph.D.s, not professional degrees. So, unfortunately, we don't accept students who only want a J.D., M.D., etc.

What criteria do I have to meet to be eligible for funding and receive my stipend?
For information on stipend requirements, please refer to the Current Fellows page under the McNair Fellows tab.

How will the stipend affect my financial aid? 
The stipend does not affect your financial aid.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the Faculty Research Mentors?
Faculty Research Mentors are chosen by the McNair Fellow with assistance from the McNair staff to assist in selecting and designing appropriate research projects that can be completed during the Summer Research Institute. Faculty Research Mentors supervise all research-related activities and offer support and advice for graduate school opportunities. Faculty mentors will be asked to review and critique written reports and presentations for the McNair Scholars while also directing them in appropriate background literature, training, and techniques needed to successfully complete the research experience. Faculty research mentors will receive a stipend to help cover costs and supplies.

Can I work during the McNair Summer Research Program?
No, you cannot work during the summer program. The summer is strictly devoted to research. You will be allotted a stipend on your full participation in the program.

Does the McNair Scholars Program expect its students to pursue a Ph.D. immediately after obtaining the B.A.?
Yes. The program expects Fellows to apply to both Masters and Ph.D. programs during their senior year as an undergraduate student. McNair realizes that all Fellows may not enroll in a graduate program immediately following their completion of their bachelor's degree, but McNair expects all its Fellows to attain a doctoral degree within ten (10) years of attaining their bachelor’s degree.
When should I start preparing to apply to graduate school?
At least one year in advance. We encourage all students in our program to begin preparing for the graduate school application process during their junior year.

Do I need to take the GRE?
Yes, Graduate programs in the U.S. require current GRE scores. The McNair Program offers a free GRE preparation course to help you practice for the exam.

If you have additional questions, please contact Ronnie Hendrix at