Frequently Asked Questions

Is the McNair Program a scholarship?

No. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln McNair Scholars Program, supported by a U.S. Department of Education grant, is a research and graduate school preparatory program.

What is expected of a McNair Scholar?

All McNair Scholars:

  • Participate in all scheduled McNair seminars throughout the academic year until graduation.
  • Participate and meet all deadlines during the McNair Summer Research Experience (MSRE).
  • Maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher from the time of acceptance into the program until graduation.
Can I participate in other research activities (UCARE, REU) AND the McNair Scholars Program?

Yes. As long as you aren’t paid for these research activities at the same time, you may participate in multiple research activities during your undergraduate career. In fact, the McNair Scholars Program encourages all Scholars to get additional research experience. During your second year in McNair, we'll encourage you to participate in UNL's Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience (UCARE) fellowship program or a departmental REU.

Do I get academic credit for being a McNair Scholar?

No. Students may elect to enroll in independent study hours during the McNair Summer Research Experience, but are responsible for the tuition and fees incurred. Visit with your academic advisor and faculty mentor to see if this option will work in your academic plan.

Who is eligible to apply?

Freshmen, Sophomore, and Junior students in good academic standing who wish to engage in undergraduate research are encouraged to apply. Applicants must meet ALL of the following requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Have achieved the following academic standing:
    • Freshmen or Sophomore (must have earned 52 credit hours by the start of the summer research component)
    • Junior (must have at least 3 more semesters to complete before graduation)
  • Have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0
  • Have a strong interest in doctoral study and are considering a career in academia, industry, or government where a postgraduate degree is essential.
  • Be a first-generation student (meaning neither parent has received a four-year, bachelor's degree) who is economically disadvantaged (as determined by the US Department of Education criteria), or be a student from a group that is underrepresented in graduate programs (African American, Hispanic, or Native American).
I’m interested in pursuing a professional degree (e.g., JD, MD, MBA, PharmD), can I apply?

Unfortunately, because of the U.S. Department of Education guidelines, individuals whose sole interest is pursuing a professional degree, such as the Juris Doctorate (JD), Medical Doctorate (MD), Master of Business Administration (MBA), are not eligible for the program. However, if you’re considering a dual degree program that includes a PhD (e.g., JD/PhD, MD/PhD, etc.), then you may apply.

Do I need to select a research mentor before applying for the Program?

No. If you don’t already have a research mentor, you’ll select one during your first semester in the program.

What are you looking for in the statement of purpose?

In the personal statement, you should discuss your research interests, as well as your academic and career goals.

Who should I ask to provide my application recommendations?

We prefer your two recommenders are UNL faculty who can comment on your academic performance and career goals. In lieu of that, you should have at least one UNL faculty recommendation and the other may be from your UNL academic advisor.

Are part-time students eligible to become a McNair Scholar?

No. McNair Scholars must be registered as full-time undergraduates (at least 12 credit hours each semester).

I already have plans for this summer. Can I apply for the program?

Yes! Students applying for the McNair program in the spring will begin the program in August, and participate in the McNair Summer Research Experience during the following summer.

I'm a first-generation student, but I don't meet the low-income guidelines. Can I still apply for the McNair program?

Unless you are a member of an underrepresented population, you would not qualify for McNair. You must be both first-generation and meet the federal low-income guidelines; or be a member of a group underrepresented in graduate education.

What groups are considered underrepresented in graduate education?

For purposes of the McNair eligibility criteria, the following groups are currently designated as underrepresented in graduate education by the U.S. Department of Education regulations:

  • African American / Black
  • Hispanic
  • American Indian / Alaskan Native
  • Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (with an affiliation with the United States)
Am I considered a first-generation student if both my parents have two-year associate's degrees?

Yes, you are considered a first-generation student since neither parent has a bachelor's degree. The U.S. Department of Education definition of first-generation scholar is:

  • A student neither of whose natural or adoptive parents received a baccalaureate degree (U.S. or abroad);
  • A student who, prior to the age of 18, regularly resided with and received support from only one parent, and whose supporting parent did not receive a baccalaureate degree (U.S. or abroad);
  • An individual who, prior to the age of 18, did not regularly reside with or receive support from a natural or an adoptive parent who has earned a baccalaureate degree (U.S. or abroad).
Is there a requirement for how long the research project should last?

Although you may begin your project earlier, your McNair research will be conducted during the eight-week Summer Research Experience.

Can I be employed or take classes during the McNair Summer Research Experience?

Although we can’t prohibit you from doing so, previous scholars have found that working or taking classes in addition to the summer research program was too much for them to handle. During the eight-week program, Scholars are expected to spend 35-40 hours each week on their research. We provide a $2,800 stipend, housing allowance, and meal plan so you can focus on your research project.

How does the McNair Program help Scholars prepare for graduate school?

The McNair Scholars Program assists scholars with graduate school preparation, including Graduate Record Examination (GRE) prep, finding the right graduate school, and researching funding opportunities. Through the McNair Scholars Program, you'll learn how to negotiate the application process, write a statement of purpose, and construct a curriculum vita. Scholars are also paired with a graduate student mentor to provide insight into life as a graduate student and the expectations of a graduate student researcher.

How can I afford graduate school?

There are several funding opportunities which defray the cost of attending graduate school, including fellowships, assistantships, and grants. By participating in the McNair Scholars Program, you’re also eligible for lucrative McNair fellowships offered at various institutions across the country. The McNair Scholars Program will work with you to identify fellowships and assistantships that will cover the cost of graduate school and pay a stipend.

Am I required to apply to graduate school at UNL or can I apply to other universities?

Scholars are NOT required to apply to graduate school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We encourage all of our McNair Scholars to apply to at least 6-10 graduate programs of their choice.

UNL McNair Alumni have earned masters and doctoral degrees at numerous institutions across the country, including Cal Tech, Cornell, Stanford, Ohio State University, University of Maryland, Texas A&M University, Tulane University, Temple University, University of Georgia, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Washington, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, to name a few.

How can I apply?

Start here!