About the UNL McNair Scholars Program

The Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program was established in memory of astronaut-physicist and Challenger crewmember Ronald E. McNair. The Program is administered through the Office of Graduate Studies and is funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant, with additional University of Nebraska–Lincoln in-kind support.


The UNL McNair Scholars Program is structured to:

  • support talented, highly motivated students as they strive to achieve their educational goals
  • introduce scholars to the many opportunities an academic life offers
  • provide scholars with a foundation for graduate school
  • create a "pipeline" of talented, dedicated, and prepared future researchers and faculty.

Through the UNL McNair Scholars Program, scholars receive an overview of higher education, discuss strategies for surviving and thriving in graduate school, and focus on developing important research and writing skills that will help them succeed.

Who qualifies

Undergraduate students who meet the following criteria are eligible to apply to the UNL McNair Scholars Program:

  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Full-time student at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Freshman, sophomore or junior with a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.0 or above
  • Either a first-generation college student with a maximum income level established by the U.S. Department of Education or a member of a group underrepresented in graduate education.

What McNair Scholars do

  • Engage in research. Following their first year in the program, students participate in the McNair Summer Research Experience (MSRE) during which they conduct individual research projects under the guidance of a faculty mentor. By completing quality research projects, students receive a realistic picture of graduate school scholarship, while learning the skills needed to succeed in doctoral programs.
  • Develop and deliver professional research presentations. McNair Scholars present their research at selected research symposia. In addition, students have the opportunity to travel to professional conferences and to network with faculty and graduate students through membership in professional organizations.
  • Attend graduate school preparation seminars and workshops. Students attend graduate school seminars and/or workshops that focus on specific topics related to the graduate school application process, including how to identify graduate programs that "fit" their needs and interests, preparing for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and how to navigate graduate school.
  • Visit graduate schools and meet with graduate faculty members. Students can receive funding to travel to up to two graduate schools to learn more about the institution and department as they make their final decision.

What McNair Scholars receive

  • McNair stipend. McNair Scholars receive an educational incentive of $2,800, along with room and board during the Summer Research Experience.
  • Mentoring. Each student selects a faculty mentor who provides individual guidance throughout the undergraduate research process and advice during the graduate school application process. Mentors serve as role models and are an essential resource for their McNair Scholar.
  • Academic development. Individual academic counseling from program staff and a faculty mentor enables students to maximize their undergraduate program and to prepare for graduate study.
  • Supportive scholarly, social, and cultural environment. Students engage with others through monthly seminars, group meetings, and various cultural events.