Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about the Program



Is the McNair Scholars Program a scholarship?

The Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program is not a scholarship. It is a program that helps prepare undergraduate students to earn Ph.Ds. and become scholars in their fields. McNair Scholars are, however, paid a stipend during the summer research portion of the program.

What are the benefits of the McNair Program?

McNair Scholars receive a wide range of financial resources and professional development training to support the pursuit of a Ph.D. in any academic field of study. See the Benefits page for more detail.

What kind of research do McNair Scholars complete?

McNair Scholars conduct research across all academic majors. Visit Current and Former McNair Scholars for more information about McNair Scholars, their research projects, and their respective faculty mentors.

Will I receive academic credit for being a McNair Scholar?      

While McNair Scholars do not receive course credit for their participation, they receive training, funding, and a robust community of support that extends far beyond graduation from GVSU.

When do I need to apply?

We recommend speaking with us during your sophomore year and starting the application process no later than the first semester of your junior year. Applications are accepted throughout the year for the fall, though the priority application deadline is mid- to late November. After November, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, and admittances are made as openings are available. McNair is limited to 34 students per year.

How do I start the application process?

Review the application timeline and then complete the "Potential McNair Scholars Interest Form". Once reviewed, we will contact you to set up a meeting with the Program Director to discuss your interest in the program. 

Do I need a mentor before I apply?

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.

Do I need a research topic before I apply?

If you have already selected a research topic, you are welcome to continue working on that idea. 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.

Questions About Eligibility



What majors are eligible to participate in the Program?

Students from all majors are eligible for the McNair Scholars Program. The only criteria regarding majors is that the student wants to earn a Ph.D in their field. Some majors rarely get Ph.D.s, such as social work, business, accounting, criminal justice, and occupational therapy. However, if you even think you may want to earn a doctorate, even in a field where it’s rare, we encourage you to fill out the McNair Program  Interest Form.

What is a terminal degree?

A terminal degree is a master's degree that is seen as sufficient for professional work in a field. In some cases, a master's degree is seen as a step to a Ph.D., but as a terminal degree, a master's degree is considered the end of a student’s educational training. Many social workers, for instance, do not go beyond an M.S.W., and most business students do not go beyond an M.B.A. If you are pursuing an M.B.A. or another terminal program, and aren't interested in going to get a Ph.D., you are unlikely to qualify for our program.

Are part-time students eligible to become McNair scholars?

McNair scholars must be registered as full-time undergraduates (at least 12 credit hours per semester).

I'm a senior. Is it too late to become a McNair scholar?

A student's anticipated graduation date is more important than their class standing. Email us at [email protected] to discuss your individual circumstances.

I'm a sophomore. Is it too early to become a McNair scholar?

It is not too early to reach out! We recommend speaking with our office as early in your undergraduate career as possible so that we can assist you in planning for the McNair Scholars Program.

I am an international student, am I eligible for the program?

McNair Scholars must be a citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S. If you are interested in graduate school and research, but are not a citizen or permanent resident, we have other programs that can give you training and experience. Please visit or email [email protected] for information about other research programs at GVSU. 

Question about Finances



Are there any financial advantages to the McNair program?

Students participating in summer research earn a stipend and are eligible to receive housing assistance on campus. Students also can receive additional funds to support research and/or graduate school visits.

How can I afford grad school?

McNair Scholars are given a detailed view of the cost of graduate school and taught how to locate and apply for scholarships, fellowships, and grants. Scholars also receive training on how to manage personal finances.  The McNair Scholars Program also provides the kinds of research and professional development experience that increases the odds of success when applying for graduate school funding opportunities. 

Can I be employed and still be a Scholar?

Many McNair Scholars are employed during the academic year. However, students are required to complete 30 hours of research per week in the summer. Talk to the Program Director to come up with a schedule and plan to balance work, family, research, and class during your advising sessions.

Page last modified June 29, 2023