About the McNair Scholars Program


The McNair Scholars Program  at UW-Superior began in 1999 and has been going strong ever since. We have a partnership with the University of Minnesota Duluth, Northland College in Ashland, WI, and The American Military University Online School (For members of the 148th Air National Guard in Duluth, MN). Students from UW-Superior and partnering schools attend fall and spring workshops in addition to an intensive summer program. Students also conduct research with a faculty mentor of their choice – on our campus or theirs.

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 Scholars 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.

As of the 2017 grant, 187 programs have been funded nationwide.

Who was Dr. Ronald E. McNair?

Ronald Erwin McNair was born October 21, 1950 in Lake City, South Carolina. He attended North Carolina A and T State University where he graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. degree in physics in 1971. McNair then enrolled in the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1976, at the age of 26, he earned his Ph.D. in laser physics. His dissertation title was: Energy Absorption and Vibrational Heating in Molecules Following Intense Laser Excitation.

McNair soon became a recognized expert in laser physics while working as a staff physicist with Hughes Research Laboratory. He was selected by NASA for the space shuttle program in 1978 and was a mission specialist aboard the 1986 flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Besides his academic achievements, McNair received three honorary doctoral degrees and many fellowships and commendations. These distinctions include: Presidential Scholar, 1967–71; Ford Foundation Fellow, 1971–74; National Fellowship Fund Fellow, 1974–75; Omega Psi Phi Scholar of the Year, 1975; Distinguished National Scientist, National Society of Black Professional Engineers, 1979; and the Friend of Freedom Award, 1981, as well as many others. A science building at MIT was named for him. McNair also held a fifth degree black belt in karate and was an accomplished jazz saxophonist. He was married and had a son and a daughter.

After his death in the USS Challenger Space Shuttle accident in January 1986, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage minority, low-income and first generation college students to expand their educational opportunities and pursue graduate studies. This program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair's life.

Ronald E. McNair

Dr. Ronald E. McNair

The Activities

  • Collaborative research in your field with a faculty mentor
  • Presentation of your research at the McNair Scholars Poster Session
  • Publication of your research in the McNair Scholars Journal
  • Workshops and seminars on topics such as:
    • Research Basics
    • Library and Internet Research Resources
    • The Institutional Review Board Process
    • How to Choose a Graduate School
    • Funding for Graduate School
    • How to Write a Personal Statemen
    • How to Have a Successful Graduate School Interview
  • GRE test preparation
  • Academic counseling and tutoring as needed

The Benefits

  • 4 credits free (2 cr. GRE preparation, 2 cr. research)
  • A stipend of $2800 for completing the research (paid over the summer)
  • Mentoring relationship with a faculty member
  • Strengthening of academic and research skills
  • Graduate school application assistance and advocacy
  • Opportunities to attend or present at professional conferences
  • Opportunities to visit graduate schools
  • The opportunity to have your research published in the National McNair Scholars Journal
  • Application fee waivers from participating graduate institutions