Program Structure

A central purpose of the UNL McNair Scholars Program is to enhance the research skills and academic accomplishments of McNair participants. To adequately prepare each scholar for life as a graduate student, the McNair Program incorporates four major components: Academic Seminars, Research and Scholarly Activity, Graduate School Preparation, Social and Cultural Activities, and Faculty Mentoring.

McNair Academic Seminars

During the academic year, seminars are directed at helping you develop important research skills and preparing you to apply for graduate school. The schedule of events will be provided at the beginning of each semester and is based on your schedules. Seminars are held monthly; attendance is required for scholars to be eligible for campus visits and conference travel.

  • For first-year Scholars, fall and spring seminars introduce you to the fundamentals of research and prepare you for the McNair Summer Research Experience. The summer seminars focus on writing an academic research paper, preparing for conference presentations, preparing you for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), and developing your graduate application portfolio.
  • Non-graduating second-year Scholar seminars focus on creating an electronic portfolio, applying for fellowships, identifying and applying for summer research programs, networking at conferences, and developing effective leadership skills.
  • Graduating Scholar seminars focus on organizing your graduate application packets, applying for fellowships, graduate school visits, selecting a graduate school, and making the transition to graduate school.

By the end of the McNair Program, you will have had training and resources to prepare you to apply and enter a master's or Ph.D. program.

Graduate School Preparation

The McNair Scholars Program assists scholars with graduate school preparation, including finding the right graduate school, completing application forms and researching funding opportunities. Through the McNair Scholars Program, you'll learn how to negotiate the application process, write a statement of purpose and construct a curriculum vita.

Social and Cultural Activities

As part of the program, the McNair staff coordinates occasional social and cultural events. Social events include the reception honoring graduates at the end of the spring semester. Cultural events will be announced as they arise.

Research and Scholarly Activity

During the summer of your first year in the McNair Scholars Program, you'll participate in the eight-week McNair Summer Research Experience (MSRE), completing research projects (or pilot studies) under the guidance of faculty advisor. You'll prepare and submit a research proposal, follow IRB guidelines for certification and protocol development, conduct research in collaboration with your faculty mentor, provide periodic progress updates to your peers and McNair staff, write a research report and prepare a conference and poster presentation. You'll receive a research stipend to support your summer work.

During your second year in the McNair Scholars Program, you'll participate in UNL's Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience (UCARE) fellowship program.

Faculty Mentoring

Faculty or research mentors assist scholars in selecting and designing an appropriate project that can be completed in two academic semesters and supervise all research-related activities. Your mentor should direct you to the appropriate background literature and provide training and assistance for you to learn required techniques or procedures. In addition, your research mentor will be asked to review and critique a rough draft of the proposal, presentation abstract and final paper. Your research mentor should be available to offer support and advice for graduate school opportunities.

Time Commitment

The Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program requires a considerable amount of commitment, not only to applying for graduate school, but also to participating in program activities. All Scholars must commit themselves to the time and effort it will take to successfully complete the program.

Separate seminar series are offered for first-year, second-year, and graduating scholars. Scholars are expected to participate in program activities until they earn their bachelor's degree.