What is the GVSU McNair Scholars Program?

The GVSU McNair Scholars Program provides support to first generation students with significant financial need, or members of racial and ethnic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in careers that require Ph.Ds. The goal of the program is to provide students support in undergraduate research, graduate school preparation, and the graduate school application process. 

Benefits of being a McNair Scholar

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.

The benefits of our program include:

  • $4,000 stipend while doing summer research*
  • Experience working directly with Ph.D. faculty at GVSU
  • Free, on-campus housing while doing summer research
  • Funding for Graduate School visits
  • Funding to attend and present at academic conferences
  • Free tutoring
  • Free writing course for graduate school preparation taught by a Ph.D. faculty member at GVSU (spring/summer only)
  • Advising for career assessment and planning
  • Education or advising services that improve financial and economic literacy of students
  • Training on how to locate, apply for, and win scholarships, fellowships, and grants
  • Public speaking and presentation training
  • Summer internships
  • Seminars and other educational activities designed to prepare students for Ph.D. study
  • Assistance with drafting graduate school application materials
  • Academic advising
  • Activities that teach students how to gain admittance into Ph.D. programs
  • Exposure to cultural events and academic enrichment programs
  • Preparation for graduate school entrance exams
  • Connection to successful GVSU McNair Alumni nationwide through the GVSU McNair Alumni Mentoring Program



McNair is a 15-month program split into the 3 distinct stages. Scholars progress through each stage of the program based on performance, commitment, and effort. McNair program sections noted below:

*McNair graduation medallions require completion of all program requirements




September - October

Recruitment + Information Sessions

November - December

Application and interview process + Cohort Selection

January – April

  • Career seminars
  • Initial professional development series
  • Selection of McNair Research Scholars + Summer on-boarding
    • Preparation of research proposal
    • Confirmation of faculty mentor
    • Preparation of Individualized Development Plans




May - July (12 weeks)

  • 30 hours per week of summer research
    • Regular meetings with McNair Mentor
  • Bi-weekly meetings with McNair Program Director
  • GS-WRAP (Graduate School Writing and Application Preparation)
  • GRE tutoring (math and verbal)
  • GSP (Graduate Success Preparation - topics include academic presentations, grad school funding, time management, imposter syndrome, mental health, etc.




August - December

  • Fall on-boarding
  • Graduate school application
  • Academic conference presentations
  • Bi-weekly cohort meetings + Monthly meetings with McNair Program Director
  • Continued professional development 
  • Undergraduate degree completion support






January - February

Graduate school visits + Selection

March - April

Preparation for graduate school relocation and graduation

*Please note that this schedule may vary depending on the student’s academic schedule.


Students who are interested in this program must be:

  • A first-generation college student – with a limited income
    First generation means: 
    • A student neither of whose natural or adoptive parents received a bachelors degree prior to the applicant turning age 18 ; OR
    • A student who, prior to the age of 18, regularly lived with and received support from only one parent, and that supporting parent did not receive a bachelors degree.
    • An individual who, prior to the age of 18, did not regularly live with or receive support from a natural or an adoptive parent (e.g. a ward of the state of foster child).


  • A member of an underrepresented group in graduate education (African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, Native Pacific Islander

*A Scholar may be both first-gen with limited income AND an underrepresented student of color.

Additionally, students must:

  • Be a citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S.
  • Have an interest in conducting research (research is required one or two summers with the program)
  • Dedication to earning a Ph.D. in any major (commitment to pursuing a Ph.D, regardless of your field of study, is a program requirement)
    • Students pursuing MD (only), JD, PharmD, PT, OT, DNP, and DDS are not eligible for the McNair Scholars Program

Selection Process

  1. Review the McNair website for information on eligibility and benefits of the program as well as our Frequently Asked Questions
  2. Submit an Interest Form for review
  3. Meet with the McNair Director via online platform (Zoom or BB Collaborate) to discuss your interest in the program and its requirements
  4. Submit official McNair application (given to eligible students after meeting with the McNair Director)

Applicants need to complete an application (application form, personal statement, tax documents {if applicable}, and 2 letters of recommendation from faculty) which will be reviewed by the McNair Scholars Selection Committee. Students will then be invited in for a 30-minute interview, after which selection determinations are made.

 Applications are accepted throughout the year for the fall, though the priority application deadline is mid- to late October. After October, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, and admittances are made as roster spots are available. McNair is limited to only 34 students per year.