Frequently Asked Questions

Prospective Students

What is the McNair Scholars program?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison McNair Program is dedicated to preparing low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented undergraduate students for graduate education leading to a Ph.D.

Who is Ronald McNair?

Dr. Ronald E. McNair is one of the first African American astronauts and one of six crew members who died in an explosion aboard the Challenger space shuttle explosion in 1986. Before his death, Dr. McNair reached out to help others become their best, especially through education.

Who is eligible to apply?

Check out the eligibility page of the website and see if you are eligible to apply for the program.

How can I apply?

You have to submit an application form and two recommendation letters to the program within the specified deadline. The next round consists of interviews by the committee.

What are the opportunities and benefits that I will get as a McNair student?

There are huge opportunities and benefits to be gained as a McNair scholar. Check out the opportunities and benifits page of the website.

How do I contact the program?

Our office is in 408 Bascom Hall. You can also call us at (608) 262-0631 or email us at


Current Students

What happens if I miss a mandatory seminar?

You should notify your counselor, Maya (Associate Director) or LaRuth (Director) in advance if you will be missing a mandatory seminar. Please notify as soon as possible. In case of academic conflict you can participate in a make-up assignment. A video of the seminar will be available for you to watch in the McNair office. Also, please fill out the evaluation form before you leave.

Does my senior thesis research count as academic research work for McNair?

Yes. If you are conducting research under a professor as a part of your seniors thesis it will count as academic research.

Is summer research mandatory for McNair Scholars?

Yes. You have to complete at least one term of summer research (Mandatory) during your stay at McNair.

Is academic research mandatory for McNair Scholars?

Beginning Fall 2011, academic research is mandatory for all scholars for every year they are a part of the program.

Can I start my academic research in spring?

We prefer that as a McNair scholars begin their academic research in fall. However, occasionally under special circumstance we make exceptions.

Do I get paid for doing summer research at UW?

Yes. McNair will pay our scholars for doing summer research with different programs available for summer research at UW Madison. Funding might be also provided to conduct summer research under independent faculty.

What is the technical seminar?

As a McNair scholar you need to attend one brown bag seminar or colloquium during the academic year in your related field and discuss the details with your counselor.

What is the spring trip?

During the UW Spring break, McNair program helps scholars visit graduate schools in the U.S. and provide them with the invaluable opportunity for meeting professors, deans and graduate students in person. One purpose of this trip is to help students to make decisions about graduate school.

Is presenting at the Undergraduate Research Symposium mandatory for McNair scholars?

As a McNair Scholar you get paid to do research during the academic year and you are expected to present your academic research at the URS. But occasionally under special circumstance we make exceptions.



As a McNair alumni what is expected of me?

We track alumni for 10 years. You will be contacted annually and be requested to fill out the alumni form on the website.

I am a graduate student and a former McNair Scholar. How can I help?

You can participate in the graduate student research forum and guide the current McNair scholars regarding research and graduate school opportunities. You can also serve as a research mentor for the current McNair scholars.

I am a graduate student. Do you have any programs that can help me? Do you have any financial assistance for graduate students?

No. Funding for the McNair program provides financial assistance to encourage research for undergraduate students.

Any other questions?

Just post your question on our Contact us link and we will get back to you as soon as possible.