The Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program at Virginia Commonwealth University is a federal TRIO program funded at over 200 United States and Puerto Rico institutions by the U.S. Department of Education. The McNair Scholars Program is designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. McNair participants are (1) first-generation college students with financial need, and (2) members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education who have demonstrated strong academic potential. The McNair Scholars Program aims to increase graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented segments of society.

Program Benefits

  • Enrollment in VCU Real 399 course (Research Writing and Presentation)
  • Scholarly workshops on graduate school preparation, funding, and selection process
  • Intense workshops on the research process
  • Each student will be paired and routinely meet with both a Faculty Research Mentor and Graduate Mentor/Tutor
  • Attend and/or participate in National Graduate Research Conferences
  • Attend and/or present at VCU Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium
  • Participate in McNair Research Summer Institute and receive a stipend (juniors and rising seniors only)
  • Develop a Research Action Plan and Design
  • Complete a Literature Review centered on research interest
  • Assistance with GRE prep and graduate school application

About Ronald E. McNair

Ronald Erwin McNair was born October 21, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina. He graduated magna cum laude and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from North Carolina A&T State University (Greensboro). In 1976, he earned his Ph.D. in laser physics. In 1978, NASA selected him for the space shuttle program. He was later selected to serve as mission specialist aboard the ill-fated U.S. Challenger space shuttle. Dr. McNair was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. After his death in the Challenger Space Shuttle accident on January 28, 1986, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. Their goal was to encourage low-income and first-generation college students and students from historically underrepresented ethnic groups to expand their educational opportunities by enrolling in a Ph.D. program and ultimately pursuing an academic career. This program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair’s life.

Learn more here 

Watch the animated video to learn more about Dr. Ronald McNair