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Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program

Ronald McNairThe Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program is named in honor of the late Challenger space shuttle astronaut and laser physicist. Funded through a grant from the United States Department of Education, the objective of the McNair Program(s) are to increase the numbers of low-income, first-generation and underrepresented minority undergraduates who pursue Ph.D. degrees and go on to careers in research and teaching at the University level.

Students at the University of Rochester have the option of applying to either our academic year program or our summer program. Academic year program applicants apply during the first semester of their sophomore year. Summer program applicants apply during the spring semester of their sophomore or junior year. Students from outside institutions can only apply to the summer program.

  • Academic Year Program

  • Summer Program

The two year program is comprised of a series of colloquia designed to help students identify appropriate graduate programs, gain admission to them, and secure financial support. Participants complete a series of assignments, including writing the personal statement; the program culminates with each scholar completing a semester-long mentored research project. Other program supports include intensive writing assistance, GRE preparation, graduate school visits, study group sessions, and help locating summer research opportunities.

The Summer Research Scholars spend June and July at the University of Rochester conducting research under the guidance of a faculty mentor in fields that can lead to the Ph.D. Scholars prepare intensively for the Graduate Record Exam and take a course entitled “The Culture of the Academy.” Students present the results of their research projects at a university-sponsored conference, and have the opportunity to present at disciplinary conferences.

Each participant in the summer program receives a stipend, room and board on campus, and travel expenses.


  • Eligibility

  • Application Requirements

  • Apply Now!

To be Eligible, An Applicant Must Meet All of the Following Criteria:

  • Be a US citizen or permanent resident
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or higher (a GPA of at least 3.0 in major field is preferred, but not required)
  • Be a sophomore at the University of Rochester (not necessary for Summer Program applicants)
  • Be committed to pursuing the Ph.D (not an MD, JD, or other graduate degree)
  • Be one of the following: low income (according to federal guidelines) AND a first-generation college student OR a member of a group underrepresented in graduate study at the doctoral level (African American, Native American, Hispanic)

All supplemental materials must be submitted in pdf form.

  • Completed online application
  • Resume/CV
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Answer the following short answer questions (maximum of 150 words per question):
    • Please describe a challenging situation that you encountered, either in an academic, professional, or personal context. What made the situation challenging? What actions did you take to resolve the situation? How effective were your actions?
    • The McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program is dedicated to rigorous academic research in a chosen field. What are your greatest strengths that will allow you to accomplish the stated goals of this program? What activities have you done, or are doing, that demonstrate this?
    • What is something that you are passionate about? What is it that you can lose yourself in for hours, be it through reading, research, or participation? What makes this thing so exciting for you?
    • Why is the McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program of interest to you? How does it align with your academic interests and career goals? What will it provide that you might not be able to find elsewhere?
    • How would your professors describe you?
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty you have worked with in the past and can speak to your potential as a researcher and a graduate student (pdf's can be submitted by faculty here)
  • Income verification - The McNair Program is a federal program that allows low-income statusĀ (according to federal guidelines) to be used as part of the selection criteria. In order to verify this portion of eligibility, we must collect the first two pages of the most recent tax forms filed that claim the applicant as a dependent (generally form 1040). If you are unable to provide this information, please contact Stephon Hamell ( to discuss your options.
  • Before final acceptance into the program, students will also be required to provide proof of United States citizenship or Permanent Resident status. It is not necessary to submit this as part of the initial application.

McNair Academic Year Application
Application due: December 7, 2016

McNair Summer Program Application
Application due: February 1, 2017



McNair Summer Scholar

McNair Summer Scholar

Resources for McNair Scholars

McNair Scholars Fee Waiver List

The Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), in conjunction with the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), has compiledĀ The List of Graduate Schools That Offer Fee Waivers and/or Other Opportunities to McNair Scholars. This list was compiled as a resource to help McNair Scholars find graduate schools that offer graduate school application fee waivers and/or fellowships and other opportunities that are available to McNair Scholars.

Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

This is a list, updated each semester, of available research opportunities across the country.

McNair Program Fast Facts

Notable achievements and successes from our program.

GRE Reimbursement Request Form

Letter of Recommendation Submission Form