Skip navigation

McNair Scholars Program

What is the McNair Scholars Program?

The McNair Scholars Program is a federal TRIO program funded across the United States and Puerto Rico by the U.S. Department of Education. Through a grant competition, funds are awarded to institutions of higher education to prepare eligible participants for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. Participants are from disadvantaged backgrounds and have demonstrated strong academic potential. Institutions encourage participants to enroll in graduate programs and then track their progress through successful completion of advanced degrees with an overall goal to increase the attainment of Ph.D. degrees by students from underrepresented backgrounds.


Students who qualify are required to be enrolled in an undergraduate degree-granting program. At least two-thirds of the participants must be low-income, potential first-generation college students. The remaining participants may be from groups that are underrepresented in graduate education. The McNair Scholars Program is research-focused and therefore not intended for students who wish to pursue professional degrees like medicine, law, or business management.

A participant must meet the following criteria:

  • Completed at least 60 semester units during the spring term of entry.
  • Has not completed a Bachelor’s degree. 
  • Has a 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA (or higher).
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent U.S. residency.
  • Pursuing a major in a STEM field, social sciences, math, or humanities.
  • Comes from a low-income family and be the first generation to complete a baccalaureate degree OR be a member of a group underrepresented in graduate education as defined by the U.S. Department of Education (African American, Hispanic-Latino, Native American and Alaskan, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian).
  • Intends to pursue a Ph.D. after graduation. This program is not open to students intending to pursue professional degrees such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, management, or law.
  • Students who have transferred from a community college are especially encouraged to apply.
  • The McNair Scholars Program provides year round services to prepare participants for acceptance into quality graduate programs of their choice.
  • Workshops and seminars provide information on such topics as selecting a graduate school, the graduate school application process, graduate financial aid, library research skills, technical writing, polishing computer skills, strengthening academic skills, Graduate Record Examination preparation and more.
  • Faculty research mentors help students formulate their research interests and develop their research skills.
  • We provide individualized assistance to help students with their undergraduate academic needs (planning, counseling, tutoring, GRE preparation, and application process.) and to help identify graduate schools and special programs of interest. In addition, we assist in admission to graduate programs of choice.
  • Networking and making new friends with the same interests. Moreover, access to information and opportunities that one normally would not hear about.
  • A summer research internship. Benefits include working with a faculty mentor, a stipend (up to $2,800) and a summer housing allowance.

The program has high expectations for our McNair Scholars. We offer full academic support throughout the year for our students so that they can maximize their potential and obtain their educational goals.

  • Enrollment in a spring research course.
  • Participation in the Summer Research Program.
  • Attendance at all workshops and/or seminars.
  • Maintain a 3.0 (or higher) cumulative GPA.
  • Completion of an academic research project under the direction of a faculty mentor.
  • Presentation of research at a national conference or at a McNair Symposium.
  • Preparation for the GRE Exam.
  • Students must develop a diverse portfolio including curriculum vitae, statement of purpose, electronic research presentation, and evidence of research and scholarly activity to facilitate their graduate school application.
  • Completion of a doctoral degree within ten (10) years of attaining a bachelor's degree from USM. 

To apply to the program, you will need to obtain and submit the following:

Two letters of recommendation from FACULTY MEMBERS who can attest to your ability to complete the program.
A copy of last year's federal tax return (or your parent/guardian tax return if you were listed as a dependent on their return).
A sample writing of a previous research project.
A copy of your resume.
Your Statement of Purpose which outlines your educational/career goals (be sure to discuss any previous research experience you have had).
The McNair Application

The application deadline is Friday, September 18, 2020.

The application can now be found on the GO system. Click below and enter your credentials to access the system to search for the application. Go to Opportunities > Ours > Searching in Search Bar.

Apply hereAlumni Update Form

Contact Us

McNair Scholars Program

104 McCain Library and Archives

Hattiesburg Campus

Campus Map