Click here for the official website for the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program

Is this a scholarship?

The McNair Scholar Program is not a scholarship, although it may make you more eligible for scholarship opportunities! EWU’s McNair Scholar Program supports juniors and seniors who are first generation college students, low income, or from backgrounds underrepresented in higher education, who wish to pursue doctoral (PhD) degrees. We do this through classes each quarter, and a paid summer research internship with a faculty mentor in the summer.

Where do I look for scholarships?

Our resources for Undergraduate Scholarships is a good place to get started.

How do I qualify to participate?

We’re happy to meet with any student who is interested in or has questions about going to graduate school. To be eligible to be a McNair Scholar, you must be: a sophomore, junior, or senior with at least one future summer and fall before graduation; interested going to graduate school and attaining a PhD; first generation and low-income college student; and/or from racial background(s) underrepresented at the doctoral level. To get started, fill out our Eligibility Questionnaire.

Which racial backgrounds are considered underrepresented at the doctoral level?

According to the US Department of Education, these are the backgrounds considered underrepresented: African American/Black, Latinx, Native American, and/or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. If you want to participate and do not fit into these categories, are unsure if you do, or do not wish to share this information through our questionnaire, please contact us. Keep in mind that you may also qualify as a first generation and low income student.

What is graduate school? What is the difference between a master’s and doctoral degree/PhD?

Once you complete your undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree, you may wish to continue pursuing education. Some fields and positions require advanced degrees. All of your professors have master’s degrees at minimum, and many have PhDs. A master’s program generally takes 2-3 years of coursework, plus the writing and defense of a thesis, which is your original contribution of knowledge to your field. A PhD program generally takes 3-5 years of coursework, plus the writing and defense of a dissertation. PhD/doctoral students tend to receive better funding offers than master’s students. You do not need to receive a master’s degree before applying to PhD/doctoral programs! Many students go directly from undergraduate into doctoral programs. However, in some cases, earning a master’s degree can make you a more competitive candidate for PhD programs.

Bonus: once you receive a PhD, you get to call yourself a Doctor and use the prefix Dr., no matter what your field of study!

How does the McNair Scholar Program prepare students to apply to graduate school?

Our program begins Winter Quarter, with a course called Creating a Scholarly Identity. Here, we discuss the qualities of a scholar versus a student, and explore what you want your original contribution to your field to be, and how you got there. We will also help you get connected with a faculty mentor for your Summer Research Internship. Spring Quarter, we offer a course on Research Methods to prepare you for your Summer Research Internship. During the 8-week Summer Quarter, you will be in the McNair office or in your research lab/field completing your Summer Research Project, as well as preparing to apply to graduate programs – looking into schools and programs, contacting faculty, designing your CV, and writing your Statement of Academic Purpose. In Fall Quarter, our course is focused entirely on supporting you through the graduate application process. Graduate program applications are generally due between November and February, with acceptances arriving between late January and early April. 

When and How do I apply to become a McNair Scholar?

You may apply as early as September of your sophomore, junior, or senior year. Applications are generally due at the end of Fall Quarter (before Winter Break). Our Advisory Committee meets the first week of Winter Quarter to review applications, and you will be notified immediately. Your application materials will be submitted through a Canvas course, which we will add you to once you’ve filled out the Eligibility Questionnaire and met with a staff member to discuss your academic and career goals. Application materials include: an academic plan created with your academic advisor, faculty interviews and a short reflection paper, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation from professors, an application form and research interest survey, as well as unofficial transcripts from every college you’ve attended.

What fields do McNair Scholars study?

Scholars in our recent cohorts have studied psychology, secondary education, biology, physics, mathematics, political science, international affairs, philosophy, Africana studies, and many more. The most important thing is that you wish to do research in your field of study. McNair may not be the best match if you plan to go directly into medical or law school, or a terminal degree in the arts (for example, master’s of fine arts in visual arts, performance, or creative writing). However, a research focus can take place in any of these fields. If you are interested in doctoral research in medicine, law, or fine arts, please contact us and we’ll talk about the possibilities.

If McNair is not a good fit for me, where can I get help applying to graduate school? 

Please check out our Student Resources page.