Center for Access & Attainment > TRIO SSS > McNair Scholars Program

McNair Scholars Program

CAA students Established at the university in 1999, the McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program is one of two federal TRIO programs at DePaul. With Student Support Services and other university-funded programs, the McNair Scholars program forms the final step in an institutional pathway connecting students from backgrounds underrepresented in higher education to baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate opportunities. DePaul is one of only 154 colleges and universities nationwide to have a McNair program.

The McNair program prepares carefully selected undergraduate students who are from low-income and/or first-generation college families, or who are members of underrepresented groups, for doctoral study and faculty careers. It is a challenging program that provides opportunities for undergraduate research and faculty mentoring along with intensive advising and assistance with the graduate school admission process.

The McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program at DePaul University is a U.S. Department of Education TRIO program supported 65 percent in federal funds and 35 percent in DePaul funds for the 2016-17 academic year.

Program Overview

The McNair Scholars Program is designed to build knowledge and skills, improve educational planning and decision-making, and expand participants' horizons and community to enable them to be competitive candidates for graduate study with the goal of completing doctoral degrees.

The program involves participants in a specialized curriculum and set of activities including seminars, coursework, faculty-supervised research, tutoring and field experiences to develop their knowledge and skills and foster the commitment needed to pursue doctoral studies and a career of university-level teaching and research. Students also participate in faculty mentoring, build academic networks with professors at DePaul and other institutions, and receive the resources and support to study and conduct research abroad.

McNair students are required by their senior year to complete a number of scholarly activities as they prepare to apply for graduate school and graduate funding opportunities. These activities, among others, include attending a summer research program, presenting their independent research projects at professional conferences, completing a study abroad experience and visiting potential graduate schools.​

Research and Study Abroad

For the last five years, the McNair Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) program has been providing faculty-supervised research experiences to expose McNair Scholars to independent academic research, while simultaneously instilling research skills and experience that makes them more competitive candidates on graduate applications and for future graduate-level work.

Through the SROP, McNair participants spend a summer at DePaul or another institution, studying and conducting research with a faculty member in their chosen field. McNair participants also have the option of completing the Summer Research Service Experience (SRSE) program which is coordinated by DePaul faculty that takes students abroad for a summer of research and service at a partner university. The SRSE adds an international travel and service component to a student's summer research experience.

Listed below are some of the colleges and universities at which McNair participants participated in the Summer Research Opportunity Program from 2000 to 2017.

  • Arizona State University
  • Brown University
  • DePaul University
  • Duke University
  • Harvard University
  • Howard University
  • Marquette University
  • Michigan State University
  • Northwestern University
  • Ohio State University
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • University of California-Irvine
  • University of California-Los Angeles
  • University of California-Santa Barbara
  • University of California-Santa Cruz
  • University of Illinois-Chicago
  • University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of Michigan
  • University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Virginia

Program Outcomes

McNair has helped to draw institutional attention to the fact that a mission-based commitment to educational opportunity does not have to be defined in minimal terms.

Thanks to McNair, between 1999 and 2012, 95 students (totaling 75 percent of McNair graduates) who entered DePaul with an average ACT score of 22 have enrolled in graduate programs. Five of them have earned a doctorate, and three are currently working as faculty.

Historically, the DePaul graduation rate for McNair participants has been close to 100 percent. More than 80 percent of students continue to graduate school within three years of graduating from DePaul.

Listed below are some of the colleges and universities at which McNair participants enrolled for graduate study from 2000 to 2017.

  • American University
  • Cardinal Stritch University
  • Central Michigan University
  • Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  • Columbia University
  • DePaul University
  • Erikson Institute
  • Florida State University
  • Marquette University
  • Michigan State University
  • Northeastern Illinois University
  • Northern Illinois University;
  • Northwestern University
  • Roswell Park Cancer Institute-Buffalo
  • Saint Louis University
  • San Francisco State University
  • Texas A&M University
  • The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  • The Ohio State University
  • University of California-Davis
  • University of California-Los Angeles
  • University of California-Santa Barbara
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Colorado-Boulder
  • University of Illinois-Chicago
  • University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign
  • University of Florida
  • University of Mexico
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Rhode Island
  • University of Texas-Austin
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Utah State University
  • York University

How to Apply

To be eligible for the McNair Scholars Program at DePaul, students must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Qualify as either a first-generation college student (neither parent has a bachelor's degree) whose household meets the low-income guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Education; or be a member of a group that is underrepresented in graduate education (currently defined by the U.S. Department of Education as Native American, Hispanic/Latino and African-American)
  • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States
  • Maintain continuous enrollment as a degree-seeking undergraduate student in good standing
  • Must have achieved junior status
  • Must have completed at least two quarters of coursework as a full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate student at DePaul University
  • Possess a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or above
  • Have a sincere and compelling desire to complete a PhD
Note: Meeting the eligibility requirements does not guarantee admission into the program.

About Ronald McNair

Ronald E. McNair, an African-American engineer, scientist and astronaut, was born on October 12, 1950, in Lake City, S.C. He attended North Carolina A&T State University where he graduated magna cum laude with a BS degree in physics in 1971. McNair then enrolled in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1976 at the age of 26, he earned his PhD in physics.

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 became the second African-American in space between February 3 and 11, 1984; on his second shuttle flight, he served as mission specialist aboard the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger mission. McNair received three honorary doctorate degrees and many fellowships and commendations.

After his death in the USS Challenger Space Shuttle accident on January 28, 1986, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, under the umbrella of Title IV TRIO Programs, to encourage minority, low-income and first-generation college students to expand their educational opportunities and pursue graduate studies.​

For more information, contact:

McNair Scholars Program
Schmitt Academic Center, Suite 166
2320 N. Kenmore Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 325-4743