exterior photo of Van Fossan Theatre.

McNair Scholars Program

The mission of the McNair Scholars Program is to prepare first-generation and income-eligible participants and historically underrepresented students for doctoral-level study. The program is funded by a TRIO grant from the U.S. Department of Education. It provides undergraduate research opportunities, academic advisement, graduate school preparation workshops and other educational seminars to support McNair scholars. The overall goal of the McNair program is to provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue and complete a Ph.D. The ultimate mission of the project is for participants to serve as faculty to assist in diversifying the Academy.

Program Details


  • Be sophomores or first-semester juniors.
  • Have a 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA.
  • Hold U.S. citizenship or permanent U.S. residency.
  • Be income-eligible (according to federal guidelines) and be a first-generation college student or be a member of a traditionally underrepresented group in higher education (African-American, Hispanic, Native-American, Alaskan-Native American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander).
  • Intend to pursue graduate studies leading to a Ph.D. (This program is not open to students pursuing medical or law degrees)
  • Also, students who have transferred from a community college are encouraged to apply.


  • Opportunity to work closely with a faculty mentor on a paid summer research project.
  • Opportunity to present research at national McNair conferences, as well as other research symposiums.
  • The opportunity to receive incentives such as waivers of application fees and fellowships from universities across the country seeking McNair Scholars for entrance into their graduate programs.
  • The opportunity to visit universities offering doctoral programs.
  • The opportunity to attend seminars and workshops related to graduate school preparation.


Apply for McNair Program

Biography of Dr. Ronald E. McNair

Dr. Ronald E. McNair was born on October 21, 1950 in Lake City, South Carolina. He received his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in Physics from North Carolina A & T State University in 1971. Five years later, he earned a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. McNair was nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics and received many honorary degrees, fellowships and commendations. However, his achievements were not limited to academia. He was a sixth degree black belt and an accomplished saxophonist. Dr. McNair and his wife, Cheryl, had two children.

In 1978, Dr. McNair was selected for the NASA space program and was the second African-American to fly into space. His life ended tragically on January 28, 1986 when the Challenger space shuttle exploded, taking the life of Dr. McNair and six other astronauts, including Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher to fly into space.

Meet the McNair Scholars Program Staff

Beverly FieldsDirector, McNairfieldsb@montclair.edu
Nkemdilim UkwuAssistant Director McNairukwun@montclair.edu