Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the McNair Scholars Program?

    We’re a federally funded TRIO program whose goal is to prepare students for Ph.D. programs. If you are eligible for the program, you will spend your junior and senior year gaining skills and experiences highly desired by graduate programs.

    Learn more about the National McNair Scholars Program.

  • Who is eligible to become a McNair Scholar?

    To be considered for the UNC McNair Scholars Program, you must

    • Be entering your junior or senior year (with minimum 60 credit hours and one full academic year remaining at UNC at the time you start the program)
    • Have a 3.0 or higher G.P.A.
    • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
    • Qualify as a first generation college student and income eligible 
      - or - be a member of a population underrepresented in graduate programs:
        • American Indian, Black/African American, Hispanic, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
        • Women in certain STEM (science, technology, engineering, & math) fields
    • Be committed to completing a doctoral degree
  • What are the benefits of becoming a McNair Scholar?

    As a McNair Scholar, you will gain valuable skills, experiences, and relationships that make you an attractive candidate for graduate programs and future careers. McNair Scholars are in high demand at graduate programs nationwide. Over 170 universities and colleges across the U.S. offer substantial incentives to McNair Scholars such as

    • Fee waivers for graduate program admission applications
    • Graduate assistantships and scholarships
    • Graduate fellowships ranging from $3,000 - $21,000

    Additionally, we offer the following benefits to our scholars

    • Faculty-mentored research experience
    • $2,800 research stipend
    • Summer program room & board stipend
    • Annual McNair Research Competition - looks good on your curriculum vita, and offers the chance to win a $1000, $800, or $400 scholarship!
    • Additional financial assistance available for completion and presentation of your research and the graduate admissions process (e.g., visiting potential graduate program)
    • Additional scholarly and developmental activities and resources (see below)
  • What "valuable experiences" will I participate in as a McNair Scholar?

    As a McNair Scholar at UNC, you are expected to participate in the following activities

    • Coursework: Faculty-mentored research and graduate school application submission
        • 2-semester research seminar centered around developing, conducting, and disseminating your independent research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor (2 credits fall semester, 2 credits spring semester) 
        • 6-week summer intensive program, centered around preparing for the graduate program application process (no credit hours)
        • 1-semester senior seminar centered around preparing and submitting graduate program applications (fall semester only, 1 credit) 
    • Scholarly and developmental activities
        • Networking with fellow scholars and professionals
        • Presentations of your research at UNC Research Day, the McNair summer colloquium, and a national undergraduate research conference
        • Preparation of a research manuscript ready to submit for publication
        • Opportunity to submit for publication in URSIDAE: The Undergraduate Research Journal at UNC
        • Individual Success Plans each semester (one-on-one meetings to discuss your needs, potential barriers to success, and strategies to achieve your goals
        • Writing conferences, research consulting, and similar activities as needed
        • Additional workshops and events designed to help you develop academically, personally, and professionally, as well as celebrate your accomplishments!
    • Annual Survey: This aspect benefits us more than it benefits you directly, but if selected as a McNair Scholar, we will check in with you annually for ten years following completion of your bachelor's degree regarding your progress and success in order to complete our annual report to the Department of Education.
  • Do I need a faculty mentor before I apply?

    No. If you have already begun research with a faculty mentor, you are welcome to continue working with that person. However, most of our scholars have yet to identify a faculty mentor. Therefore, we guide you through the process of identifying and selecting a mentor or mentors.

  • Do I need to know what I am researching before I apply?

    No. If you have already begun research with a faculty mentor, you are welcome to continue working on that project. However, most of our scholars have yet to select a research topic. Therefore, we guide you through the process of identifying potential research topics, presenting them to your faculty mentor, and settling on a specific research question.

  • What kinds of research do McNair Scholars do?

    Curious what kind of research our scholars are doing? See the Current Participants page for more information about current McNair Scholars, their research projects, and their respective faculty mentors.

  • Can I participate in both McNair and the Upper Division Honors Program?

    Yes. It is possible to participate in both McNair and the Upper Division Honors Program. You can often substitute the McNair Research Seminars for some of the required Honors coursework, and it is possible to select complimentary research projects. 

  • How do I apply?

    Applications are accepted each spring semester. Visit the Application for Admission page or swing by the McNair Scholars office in Michener L75 for more information.