McNair Scholars Program

McNair Scholars Program


The McNair Scholars Program is a comprehensive program structured to prepare undergraduates for successful careers as graduate students, professors, and professional researchers. This preparation is offered in the form of classes, colloquia, advising, tutoring, faculty mentoring, and the completion of a summer Research Internship.

The Ronald E. McNair Scholars Achievement Program is a TRIO Program funded by a grant from the federal Department of Education to prepare talented undergraduates for graduate study, with the goal of increasing the number of Ph.D.-holders from underrepresented socio-economic and ethnic groups.

McNair Scholars receive advice and assistance in preparing themselves academically for graduate school, searching for graduate programs to apply to, completing the application process, and deciding what program to enter. The centerpiece of the program is a summer research internship under the guidance of SMU faculty mentors. Scholars conduct original research, write reports, create presentations, and have the opportunity to attend research conferences.

Who is Ronald McNair?

Dr. Ronald E. McNair, the second African-American to fly in space, was born on October 12, 1950 in a poor southern community in South Carolina. Despite his circumstances, Ronald McNair was determined to see his dream of being a scientist come true.

In 1967, he graduated valedictorian from Carver High School. In 1971, he graduated from North Carolina A&T State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in physics and enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ronald McNair earned a Ph.D. in laser physics at 26 and eventually became a nationally recognized expert in the field.

Among his many academic achievements, Dr. McNair was the recipient of three honorary doctorates and a number of fellowships and commendations. He was a sixth degree black belt in karate and an accomplished jazz saxophonist.

Dr. McNair was the mission specialist aboard the ill-fate Challenger flight in 1986. On the morning of January 28, 1986, Dr. McNair and six crew members died in an explosion aboard the space shuttle.

Apply now!

Apply now to engage in the full McNair Scholar Experience 

  • Work with faculty mentor whose research interest are related
  • Write a paper based on the intern’s research results, which will be published in the McNair Scholars Journal
  • Develop and electronic, oral and research poster to be reviewed for McNair Symposium
  • Stipend awarded
  • Fall Application Deadline Date: Friday, September 25th at 5pm

McNair Scholars Events

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