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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about the McNair Scholars Program

Is the McNair Program a scholarship? No. The Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program helps prepare undergraduate students to earn Ph.D.s and become scholars in their fields.

What is expected of me as a McNair participant? All program participants must:

  • Be part of the Summer Research Program, and
  • Continue participation throughout the academic year by involvement with Toastmasters, regular academic advising meetings, career workshops, etc.

Do I get any academic credit for being a Scholar? Not directly. Most students get 3 credit hours for the Writing 305 class taken in the summer. Students are also encouraged to do an independent study with their mentor to get ready for their research experience.

Questions about Application

What majors are eligible to participate in the Program? Students from all majors are welcome, though some majors very seldom get Ph.D.s. Some programs here at GVSU that tend to end in terminal master's degrees include social work, business, accounting, criminal justice, and occupational therapy.

What is a terminal degree? These are master's degrees that are seen as an end in themselves. In most cases, a master's is seen as a step to a Ph.D., but in other cases, it is considered the end of a students educational training in a field. Most social workers, for instance, do not go beyond an M.S.W., and most business students do not go beyond an M.B.A. While academic track master's degrees (such as those in sociology, psychology, mathematics, physics, etc.) are just another step towards a Ph.D., practical track (or terminal) master's degrees are seen as the final step towards joining a profession. If you are pursuing an M.B.A. or another terminal program, you probably aren't going to get a Ph.D. and therefore are unlikely to qualify for our program.

Are part-time students eligible to become McNair scholars? No. McNair scholars must be registered as full-time undergraduates (at least 12 credit hours).

I'm a senior. Is it too late to become a McNair scholar? Whats most important is when you're going to graduate, not your class standing. Call the McNair office to talk with our Director Dolli Lutes to discuss your individual circumstances.

I'm a sophomore. Is it too early to become a McNair scholar? Absolutely not! In fact, it is especially important to use the summers between academic years in ways that will help you with your academic and career plans; an internship, study abroad experience, other summer research opportunities, etc., can all be very valuable assets when it comes time to apply to graduate programs. We recommend talking with the McNair office as early in your undergraduate career as possible so that we can set up your McNair schedule and make the best use of your summer after your sophomore year.

What if I'm interested in a professional degree (JD, MD, MBA, etc.) and I still want to participate? The mission of the McNair Scholars Program is to diversify faculty in U.S. institutions of higher education by reducing the barriers to the Ph.D. for underrepresented individuals in graduate education. The McNair program recognizes that first-generation/low-income undergraduates and undergraduates of color have a number of career possibilities to consider outside of academia; however, the mission of the program is to increase the number of Ph.D.s, not professional degrees. So no, we don't accept students who want J.D.s, M.D.s, etc.

When do I need to apply? Its important to start the process as early as possible, as references from faculty are needed. We recommend speaking with us during your sophomore year and starting the application process no later than first semester of your junior year. Applications are accepted throughout the year for the fall, though the yearly application deadline is mid- to late October.

How can I get an application? Please call our office at (616) 331-3441 to schedule a meeting with our Director, Dolli Lutes. During this meeting, we'll make sure the McNair program is the right fit for your academic goals and we'll go over the application process.

Questions about Finances

Are there any financial advantages to the McNair program? Students participating in summer research earn a stipend to help pay for living costs and have a budget for research expenses.

How can I afford grad school? There are a number of financial assistance programs available to graduate students, including fellowships, assistantships, grants, and loans. The advising process and preparation opportunities offered by the program will help you research and find funding for graduate school.

Will the stipend affect my financial aid? No. The stipend is not considered income.

Can I be employed and still be a Scholar? Many of the McNair Scholars are employed during the academic year. During the summer you may find working in addition to the summer program too much. Talk to the Associate Director to come up with a schedule and plan to balance work, family, research, and class during your advising sessions with her.

Questions about the Summer Research Program

Is summer research mandatory for McNair Scholars? While almost all McNair students take advantage of the opportunity to do research during the Summer Research Program, occasionally students choose to pursue other research programs.

Can I use preexisting research as my McNair research? No. Your research must be original work done under the guidance of your research mentor.

Does my senior thesis research count as academic research work for McNair? No. The two can be related, however, as students may choose to expand on their senior research for the McNair research project.

What is expected of me a Summer Research Participant? All program participants have the opportunity to:

  • Conduct summer research for 12 weeks, 20-24 hours per week,
  • Take the GS-RAP course that is for McNair Scholars during your summer of McNair research,
  • Participate in research writing and GRE preparation courses,
  • Present research findings to Grand Valley professors and other McNair Scholars, and attend all presentations of fellow McNair Scholars,
  • Travel to a summer research conference and present findings,
  • Meet weekly during summer research program with your mentor to discuss progress, and
  • Meet weekly during summer research program with the McNair Director to discuss your progress.

How will the Summer Research Program relate to my other summer obligations (e.g. summer classes, summer job, family responsibilities, etc.)? The Summer Research Program in an intensive, time-consuming program; McNair Scholars should not take summer classes other than those required by the program and are encouraged to devote their full attention to research. Scholars are paid a summer stipend to offset the financial costs associated with full-time study. Therefore, we recommend that you don't work unless necessary. We recognize that individual situations vary and that you may have concerns about financial aid or other issues. You are strongly encouraged to speak with the Director about any concerns that you have.