The McNair Scholars Program provides a comprehensive PhD and graduate school preparatory program for first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students. The program’s eligible population contains students with a profile to be selected into a competitive graduate institution, but who face educational, financial, and social barriers that can make graduate school, and careers for which a doctoral degree is necessary, seem like an unrealistic goal.

At Suffolk University, the McNair Scholars program serves a maximum of 25 students at any given time. An integral component of the program is the Summer Research projects students are required to conduct during their tenure as McNair Scholars, usually in the summer term between their junior and senior years. A $2,800 stipend is issued upon successful completion of the research experiences. Program participants also receive personalized guidance in identifying and applying to graduate programs; all participants are strongly encouraged to enroll in masters and doctoral programs. The program further tracks students’ progress towards the successful completion of an advanced degree.

Program History

The McNair Scholars program is a federal TRiO program funded by the U.S. Department of Education and mandated by Congress. The goal of the program is to increase the number of students in doctoral degree programs who are low-income and first generation undergraduates or students who come from groups underrepresented in graduate education; particularly African American, Hispanic/Latina/o, and American Indian/Alaska Natives.

The program was named for Astronaut and Challenger space shuttle crew member Dr. Ronald E. McNair, an accomplished laser physicist, fifth-degree black belt in karate, and saxophonist. The first programs were funded in 1989, three years after the Challenger Space shuttle incident, which claimed the life of Dr. Ronald E. McNair. The program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair's life. To read full history of the program and Dr. McNair: CLICK HERE.

Benefits and Services

The McNair Scholars Program provides a system of integrated services to help develop your academic, research, and communication skills. The program provides support services, activities, and experiences that represent an investment in your future. We are committed to seeing you succeed and in return expect a firm commitment from you. We look forward to working with you and your research mentor, and helping you achieve your academic goals.

Scholars are provided with many services through the McNair Program to assist with the following processes:

  • Preparing and completing a quality academic research paper and/or project
  • Identifying and obtaining information about appropriate graduate programs
  • Preparing for and take the Graduate Records Exam (GRE)
  • Learning about scholarships and fellowships for graduate study
  • Preparing applications or scholarship forms and edit personal statements
  • Securing letters of recommendation for graduate school applications

In addition, scholars receive the following:

  • Workshops and seminars during the academic year and summer sessions
  • Group and individual graduate school visits
  • McNair Scholar-specific graduate admission application waivers (where available)
  • Academic and career advising/mentoring
  • A Personal Education Plan (PEP)
  • Summer research internship with a $2,800 research stipend upon successful completion
  • The ability to borrow Laptop computers and software (as well as technology training)
  • Travel to national undergraduate research conferences and other professional meetings
  • The opportunity to submit their research to the Journal of Undergraduate Research & Creativity (JURC)
  • The ability to serve as McNair Ambassadors and gain leadership experience
  • Referrals to additional campus resources to help you meet academic requirements
  • Networking opportunities with other McNair alumni throughout the United States
  • Participation in cultural and social group activities and events