Ronald E. McNair Program

What is the TRiO Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program? 


Official portrait photograph of Astronaut Ronald E. McNair. McNair was a mission specialist and died in the space shuttle Challenger accident, Jan. 28, 1986. Photo credit: NASA

The McNair program is a federally funded grant program designed to increase the numbers of low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented minority undergraduates who pursue PhD degrees and go on to careers in research and teaching at the university level. The highly selective program offers students at the University of Rochester the opportunity to engage in paid undergraduate research, and gain support in the graduate school application process. Because the overarching goal of the McNair program is to diversify the professoriate, applicants should be able to demonstrate a genuine interest in becoming PhD candidates. 

The program is open to all majors, but student applicants must be in their sophomore or junior year to apply. On average, 70% of McNair seniors at the University of Rochester have gone on to graduate study immediately after completing their undergraduate degree.   

The program is named in honor of the late Challenger space shuttle astronaut and laser physicist, Ronald E. McNair.  


  • Be a US citizen or permanent resident
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or higher
  • Academic year applicants must be a sophomore at the University of Rochester
  • Be committed to pursuing a PhD (not an MD, JD, or other graduate degree)
  • Must be low income (according to federal guidelinesAND a first-generation college student OR a member of a group underrepresented in graduate study at the doctoral level (African American, Native American, Hispanic)


Application deadline extended to: Friday, February 9, 2024.

Apply Online


  • Paid undergraduate research experience
  • Paid summer housing
  • Academic conference funding
  • Graduate school application fee waivers
  • GRE reimbursement
  • Graduate school campus visits
  • One-on-one advising through the graduate school application process


For more information about this program, including notable achievements and successes, email Senior McNair Advisor and Curriculum Specialist George McCormick at