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McNair Scholars Program

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The mission of the McNair Scholars Program at Roosevelt University is to provide promising undergraduates with the knowledge necessary to achieve and successfully complete a doctoral degree. The McNair Scholars program accomplishes this through enhancement workshops, advanced research, a mentoring program, and a supportive atmosphere.

McNair students are required by their senior year to complete a number of scholarly activities as they prepare to apply for graduate school and graduate funding opportunities. McNair students benefit from a summer research program, presenting research at professional conferences, visits to graduate schools they are interested in attending, academic counseling, course tutoring, preparing for GRE exams, and receiving advice and assistance with the graduate school selection and application process. The McNair Scholars Program is committed to helping students build solid foundations in their professional and personal relationships through mentoring, community building activities, and nurturing a sense of accomplishment in their educational goals at the end of their program.

The Roosevelt University McNair Scholars Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Federal TRIO program and Roosevelt University. The McNair Scholars program is overseen at Roosevelt University by the Office of the Provost.


The McNair Scholars Program was named to commemorate the academic achievements of Dr. Ronald Erwin McNair, Physicist and one of seven crew members who perished in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Ronald Erwin McNair was born on October 21, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina, to Carl and Pearl McNair. Although he grew up amidst crushing poverty, McNair always exhibited a deep thirst for scientific knowledge. In 1971, he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Physics degree from the North Carolina A&T State University. In 1976, he earned his Ph.D. degree in Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and went on to work with the Hughes Research Laboratory where he became recognized as an expert in the field of laser physics.

In addition to his academic achievements, Dr. McNair received three honorary doctorate degrees and many fellowships and commendations. These included Presidential Scholar, 1967-1971; Ford Foundation Scholar, 1971-1974; National Fellowship Fund Fellow, 1974-1975; Omega Psi Phi Scholar of the Year, 1975; Distinguished National Scientist, National Society of Black Professional Engineers, 1979; and Friend of Freedom Award, 1981. He also held a fifth-degree black belt in karate and was an accomplished jazz saxophonist.

Dr. McNair realized his dream of becoming an astronaut in 1978 when he was selected from a pool of ten thousand applicants for the NASA space shuttle program and became the second African-American to fly in space. Dr. McNair participated in two space shuttle flights aboard the Challenger, logging a total of 191 hours in space during his first flight.

After his death aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1986, Congress approved funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program in recognition of his accomplishments. The McNair Scholars Program, dedicated to the support and promotion of the high standards of achievement exemplified by McNair, is designed to increase the number of low-income, first-generation and underrepresented minority college students who pursue and complete doctoral degrees and is dedicated to excellence in teaching, research, service, and practice.

Eligibility Requirements

Applications are available to all eligible full-time undergraduate students at Roosevelt University. All majors are welcome to apply.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Maintain GPA of 3.0 or better
  • Have completed at least 60 hours of college credit by the end of the spring semester and have a minimum of 1 year remaining before graduation. Students with at least 45 hours of college credit but less than 60 hours may still apply for the program and participate in a number of activities that will prepare them for full participation in the Summer Research Experience once they have earned 60 credit hours
  • Maintain continuous enrollment as a degree-seeking undergraduate student in good standing
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Have a sincere and compelling desire to complete a PhD
  • Be a first-generation college student who is low-income level (as established by the U.S. Department of Education) OR a member of a group underrepresented in doctoral study (e.g., Hispanic, Black, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or other Native American Pacific Islander).

For more information, email

Benefits and Opportunities

Throughout the academic year, McNair scholars receive:

  • Access to individualized advising and career planning.
  • Regularly scheduled seminars on topics related to graduate school preparation.
  • A mentoring opportunity with a faculty member who will provide guidance, advice, role modeling and an introduction to the academic profession.
  • Assistance with graduate school application process.
  • GRE test preparation workshops.
  • Opportunity to present research at the Roosevelt University McNair Scholars Program Research Symposium.
  • Financial support to present at local, state, or national professional conferences.
  • Financial support for graduate school visits.
  • A research internship beginning in the spring and continuing through the summer for eight weeks that includes: (a) a stipend of up to $2800 paid during the summer; and two semester hours of tuition-free credit for a summer research course (entitled “Introduction to Research & Scholarly Activity”).

To apply for the McNair Scholars Program, you will need to:

  1. Complete the online application found here:
  2. Submit Three required letters of recommendation online. These include:
    • Two academic letters of recommendations, one of which must be from a faculty member in your major (Note: letters of recommendation should be written by persons who can best assess your ability for academic research and your motivation to attend graduate school);
    • And one letter from a personal supporter (e.g., a family member, close friend, or mentor), from someone who is committed to your goal of completing a PhD.
    • Online link for letter writers to complete letters of recommendation:

The following additional APPLICATION MATERIALS need to be submitted to the McNair email or dropped off in AUD 104:

  1. A copy of your family’s most recent Tax forms.
  2. Personal Statement:
    • Please describe your academic and career goals (between 400-500 words).
    • Please explain why you are interested in obtaining a doctorate, the area you are interested in studying, your tentative research goals (either specific or general research areas which are of interest to you), why you think that participating in the McNair Program can help you reach those goals, and any other relevant information.
  3. A copy of your unofficial and current Academic Transcript.

Deadline Extended!

Applications are due by 5p.m. on Wednesday, February 21, 2018. Application materials can be emailed to Applications will be accepted before the deadline and reviewed as materials are received. Please email with any questions!