The McNair Scholars Program began providing services to students nationally in the 1989-1990 academic year. As of 2007, McNair programs worked with over 4,100 low-income, minority, and first generation undergraduate students, encouraging them to consider careers in college teaching and to prepare them for doctoral study. The grant focuses on students who are traditionally underrepresented in graduate studies and who are motivated and want to complete doctoral studies. The University of Wisconsin-Superior received funding through the U.S. Department of Education for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program beginning October 1, 1999.
A particular focus of the McNair program is providing research opportunities for students. Students are paired with faculty mentors who are able to facilitate each student's academic goals. Students are provided with in-depth information on the graduate school process through seminars, workshops and internships, and are networked with professionals in their field through membership in professional organizations.