How do I know if I am eligible?
Please refer to the Eligibility page. To determine low-income status, please refer to the Federal TRIO Programs Current-Year Low-Income Levels chart available on the Department of Education website.

Does it matter what my major is?
No! The McNair Scholars Program has students with many different majors. However, priority is given to students who are interested in undergraduate research and plan to pursue a PhD.

Do I have to be a current SMU undergraduate student to apply?
Yes, this program only serves current SMU undergraduates.

I am a transfer student. Am I still eligible to apply?
Yes, transfer students are still welcome to apply as long as they fit the eligibility requirements listed on the Eligibility page.

What is the Summer Research Institute?
The Summer Research Institute (SRI) is an eight-week program where students work on a research project alongside a faculty mentor. During this time, students enroll in a 5-week credit bearing Research Methods course to gain a better understanding of the research process. SRI participants attend biweekly graduate preparation seminars, covering topics such as personal statement writing and finding the right graduate program. Students who complete the SRI are required to present their research at the Engaged Learning Fall Symposium and have the opportunity to travel to and present their research at a National McNair Conference.

Is the Summer Research Institute mandatory?
Yes, all scholars are required to dedicate one summer to the SRI before they graduate from SMU. Students that plan to complete an external internship within their field during the summer will fulfill this requirement pending a letter of confirmation from their internship supervisor at the completion of the internship.

How will the SRI impact my other summer obligations (ex. summer classes, summer job, family vacation, etc.)?
Due to the time-consuming nature of the program, Scholars are encouraged to avoid taking summer classes or have other summer commitments.

Is this a scholarship?
No. While we are called the McNair Scholars Program, we are an undergraduate research fellowship rather than a traditional scholarship program. The McNair Scholars Program will not provide money to pay for any costs related to attending the university but will provide resources that will help you to prepare for graduate school and research such as: graduate test prep material, application fee waivers, GRE fee waivers, travel to various graduate schools and research conferences.

Will the McNair Scholars Program help me pay for graduate school?
No. However, participation in the program can prepare you to become a competitive applicant for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities.

What if I am not sure that if I want to get a PhD?
This program is designed specifically for students who want to go on to obtain a terminal degree after graduation. If you are unsure if this is the path for you, feel free to make an appointment with the McNair Scholars Senior Program Specialist, Jacqueline Lowrey, at to discuss your goals and whether our program is a good fit or if there may be other programs on campus that better suit your needs.

Does it matter if I have no prior research experience?
Not at all! Workshops and the summer research methods course are designed to help students learn how to complete the research process.

Does it matter if I have already done research or been a participant in a research fellowship program?
No! Participation in the McNair Scholar Program often compliments the various SMU undergraduate research programs by providing extra funding and a variety of beneficial resources.

I missed the Priority Deadline! Can I still apply?
Yes, applications are accepted on a rolling basis until all of the spots are full. Please reach out to the Senior Program Specialist, Jacqueline Lowrey, at, if it is past the deadline and you are still interested in applying.