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McNair Scholars Research Program

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First-generation college students from low-income backgrounds or students from under-represented groups interested in performing research in science or engineering may be able to become a McNair Scholar.

Ronald E. McNair was among the USS Challenger Space Shuttle's seven-member crew which met with tragedy and death in January 1986. As a tribute to his lifelong achievements, Congress and the McNair family formed the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program to assist young people in not only following McNair's path, but to take the initiative to blaze trails of their own.

The Chosen Few
Throughout the United States, approximately 180 schools have been chosen by Congress to host a Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Program. Only colleges and universities which have an outstanding record of research are considered for the Federal TRIO Grant which provides operating monies. Participating in the program allows students firsthand experience in cutting-edge, graduate-level research at a nationally recognized facility. Faculty members who partake as mentors are equally dedicated to their teaching and their research.

The prestige of being a Clarkson McNair Scholar is shared by only 20 students each year. Clarkson, as a McNair Program host, stands among UC Berkley, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Purdue, Texas A&M, and Howard University to name a few. Clarkson's research for McNair Scholars focuses on engineering or science; other schools offer a variety of options.

Funds are available for student travel to conferences hosted by other McNair programs as well as academic societies or others. In addition, McNair can help arrange graduate school visits and offset the costs involved.

As a McNair Scholar you will:

  • Be matched with a Clarkson University faculty member whose research interests closely resemble yours;
  • Participate in a nine-week, in-residence summer research program;
  • Receive a stipend plus room and board for the summer internship period;
  • Be provided with assistance to refine your goals, create a plan of action to achieve them and identify which graduate schools offer the best match for you;
  • Attend regular seminars and workshops on, among other topics, ethics, negotiating the graduate school application process, types of financial assistance available, preparation for the Graduate Record Exams (GRE);
  • Participate during the academic year in professional conferences, graduate fairs, or similar scholarly activities;
  • Utilize Clarkson University's extensive research and computing facilities;
  • Interact in informal, non-research settings with successful role models who have earned post-baccalaureate degrees;
  • Receive personal support as you pursue your post-baccalaureate dreams.

The McNair Scholars Program provides more than a summer internship experience. The possibility exists for you to:

  • Write and submit a research paper for publication in a professional journal or for presentation at a professional conference;
  • Receive additional stipend support for continuing senior year research;
  • Attend a national professional conference with your mentor;
  • Apply to graduate programs of your choice;
  • Make contacts with faculty members at graduate institutions of interest to you;
  • Receive ongoing support from mentors and program staff dedicated to ensure student success.

Seminars and Commitment
In addition to pursuing research projects, all McNair Scholars participate in seminars and workshops that are of practical use in preparing for the future. These deal with professional issues, such as research ethics, and with the process of gaining admission to graduate school, including preparation for your Graduate Record Exam (GRE). The program also provides fee waivers for the GRE and for graduate school applications. Nationally, McNair Scholars are becoming a group that is highly recruited by graduate programs. Visit the list of institutions offering graduate school application fee waivers and other Application Incentives to McNair Scholars. This list is frequently updated with information regarding the variety of McNair fellowships available for graduate study, so be sure to return frequently to this site.

Throughout the McNair Program several seminars are scheduled. These seminars are appropriately chosen to enhance the learning experience associated with research and to give a better perspective of the graduate school application process and experience. Not only are they scheduled for the summer session, but throughout the academic year as well. By accepting the role of a McNair Scholar, one is also committing time outside the research lab. Every attempt is made to plan additional activities at a time which is convenient to all participants. Funding for the program in subsequent years is dependent upon participation at such events, as it is a reflection of Scholar interest and the effectiveness of the staff.

It's not all work
Field trips to northern New York and nearby Canadian attractions are an entertaining break from everyday research. Past trips have included whitewater rafting; and trips to places such as Burlington, Vermont, The Adirondacks, Ottawa and Montreal.

McNair Application Requirements:

  • Strong interest in pursuing a doctoral degree;
  • Sophomore or junior undergraduate in a science or engineering discipline at the time of application;
  • Matriculated student pursuing a baccalaureate degree at an institution of higher education;
  • A cumulative grade-point average of 2.8 or better;
  • U.S citizen or Permanent U.S. Resident or in the U.S for other than a temporary purpose and provide evidence from the Immigration and Naturalization Service of his/her intent to become a permanent resident;
  • First-generation college student from a low-income background or belong to a underrepresented group (African American, Native American, and Hispanic American);
  • Live in Potsdam, New York, for the duration of the summer program; and, submit a complete application packet postmarked by the deadline date.

Application Materials
The application is available by mail or via the Internet in Microsoft Word (.doc) or PDF formats. Both on-line versions of the application can be filled out on your computer and then printed.

Please print and submit at least two recommendation forms.

For more information, contact:

Clarkson McNair Scholars
PO Box 5514
Potsdam, New York 13699-5514
Phone: 315-268-6669
Fax: 315-268-6552