SMU College Access Programs have assisted low-income and first-generation students prepare for college since 1966 when SMU was awarded its first Upward Bound grant from the U.S. Department of Education, TRIO Programs. SMU College Access Programs has grown over the years with Education Talent Search being added in 2011 and then Upward Bound Math Science and Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program being added in 2012. The College Knowledge Program that serves Dallas ISD Title I schools was added in 2016.

For over 50 years, SMU College Access Programs have helped low-income, potential first generation college students, and underrepresented students prepare for college success. College Access TRIO Programs served 1,375 students in 2017-2018 through Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math Science, Talent Search, and McNair Scholars. The College Knowledge Program supported 1,699 students in 2017-2018.

College Access Highlights

Our staff is committed to providing a nurturing and caring environment to help disadvantaged students overcome academic and financial barriers in higher education.

College Knowledge Program

Spruce at the SMU Human Rights Youth Summit 2019

Six Spruce students were able to attend the 2019 Human Rights Youth Summit at SMU. This free two-day summit included various workshops, speed networking, and an overnight stay on the SMU campus. By the end of the weekend, our Spruce students were empowered and equipped to lead human rights action projects in their high school community. 


The SMU College Knowledge Program provides services in selected Dallas Independent School District high schools to assist students with the college transition process.

Upward Bound/Upward Bound Math Science

2019 Summer Academy 

Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science scholars participated in our 2019 Summer Academy. Throughout the summer our students took classes that they're taking in the Fall 2019 semester. Pictured below was the Biology and Chemistry class and our scholars get to experience a more hands on learning experience. In the Biology class they dissected a small pig to learn about the internal workings of an animal and in the Chemistry class our scholars learned about why certain liquids don't mix based on their physical properties and densities. 

Upward Bound serves high school students from low-income families, or families in which neither parent has earned a bachelor’s degree. Program participants must meet eligibility requirements and will be selected through an application and interview process.

McNair Scholars Program

McNair Summer Research Institute 2019

Over the summer the, six McNair Scholars traveled to Boston as part of the 2019 Summer Research Institute. The Summer Research Institute is an intensive 8-week long program where students spend twenty-nine hours per week conducting independent research under the guidance of a faculty mentor, as well as take an interdisciplinary research methods course, participate in biweekly workshops regarding graduate school preparation, and have the opportunity to travel to prospective graduate schools across the country. Our students visited Harvard, Boston University, MIT, Northeastern, and more local universities. During these visits, scholars learned about various programs and received invaluable tips on how to submit the strongest application possible. Students are pictured rubbing the foot of the John Harvard - an act that some believe brings good luck.

The Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program at Southern Methodist University combines faculty mentoring, undergraduate research, and academic support services to prepare and engage SMU students academically and encourage them to purse postgraduate studies.

Educational Talent Search

Look out, class of 2020 is ready to take on their senior year!

During summer 2019 students came out to prepare to tackle college applications and the FAFSA at our Senior Preparation Workshops. We appreciate students taking time out of their busy summers to jump start their senior year! Along with that, we also stopped by the University of Houston and Texas Southern University. We survived the Houston heat and learned what these schools have to offer. We are looking forward to a productive year and this was a great start!


Educational Talent Search provides academic, career and financial counseling to students as they graduate from high school, transition to college and pursue their degrees.