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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the main goal of the McNair Scholars Program?

The main goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to provide opportunities and instruction that increase our students’ level of preparation and competitiveness for graduate school programs. Ultimately, the program exists to promote doctoral degrees (Ph.D.) among underrepresented students, therefore increasing diversity among the professoriate.  

Q: When should I apply to The McNair Scholars Program?

The ideal candidate for our program is a student who has completed 60 semester units; however, if you are interested in the program and have not yet reached junior status, please contact us so that we can help you prepare to apply. 

Q: When is the application deadline?

The SSU McNair Scholars Program serves 27 students per academic year. As scholars graduate, we consider new applicants. Applications for the McNair Scholars Program are accepted on a rolling-basis until spots are filled. 

Q: Who should I ask to write my letter of recommendation for my application to the McNair Scholars Program?

We recommend asking a faculty member or college-level instructor who knows your potential as a student to write your letter of support. If you have recently transferred from a community college and have not yet developed strong relationships with professors at SSU, we will accept a recommendation from one of your community college professors. 

Q: If my GPA is under a 3.0, should I still apply?

A 3.0 cumulative GPA is highly recommended for the program, which is the minimum to be a competitive applicant for most graduate programs. If you are close to a 3.0 GPA and/or there are extenuating circumstances that led to a lower overall GPA, please contact us so we can discuss it further. 

Q: I am a senior. Is it too late to apply?  

No. As long as you will be enrolled at SSU while applying to grad school, you are eligible to participate in the program; however, graduate program application deadlines begin in the fall semester for admission in the following year, so if you are a senior and are interested in applying to graduate school, please contact our office right away. 

Q: Is the McNair Scholars Program only for science majors?

No. We work with students from all undergraduate majors at SSU, including the humanities, social sciences, and STEM.

Q: Do I have to do a research project in order to participate in the program?

Yes. All McNair Scholars are required to conduct research under the guidance of a SSU Faculty Mentor. This research is presented at SSU’s annual symposia, is published in the McNair Scholars Research Journal, and is one of the best ways to become a more competitive and better prepared graduate school applicant, so we insist upon it. 

Q: I don’t know what kind of research project I would do and/or I don’t have a faculty mentor. Is that okay?  

Yes. We have worked with many students who did not have a faculty mentor and/or did not have a research project when they started the program. We can help you find a mentor who can help you develop a research project that is tailored to your interests and academic/career goals.

Q: Is the McNair Scholars program only for people interested in Ph.D. programs?

While the main goal of the program is for students to earn a Ph.D., many students begin this academic journey by earning a master’s degree. 

Q: Will the McNair Scholars Program prepare me to go to medical, law, or veterinary school?

Unfortunately, no. The McNair Scholars Program prepares students for Ph.D. programs. The main goal of our scholars must be to attain a graduate research degree, not a professional degree (MD, JD, MBA, PharmD, etc.).

Q: I have no idea how to apply to graduate school. Can you help me with  the whole process?  

Yes. That’s what we do. Our workshops and individual advising are designed to help students select programs in which they are likely to thrive, and we help students put together the strongest application packages they can.

Q: What is the time commitment? 

Participating in the McNair Scholars program is roughly equivalent to the time commitment required for an upper-division, 3-unit course. Scholars are required to attend weekly workshops and meet regularly with McNair Program Staff and their McNair Faculty Mentor. During the summer, McNair Scholars participate in summer research or internship opportunities to gain experience in their major field of study. The scholarly activities required by the McNair Scholars Program ensures that students complete their research projects and create compelling and competitive applications to graduate programs.

View the McNair Scholars Program Requirements

Q: What are some of the benefits McNair Scholars receive?

The McNair Scholars Program offers many benefits to students pursuing advanced degrees. In addition to providing comprehensive graduate school advising, the program offers travel funding to participate in research conferences and for graduate school visits, assistance in finding paid summer research opportunities, graduate school application fee waivers, and a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) fee reduction (half-price), among other things. The program also provides a yearly stipend (up to $2800) to participants who meet all of the program requirements.

Q: Do I need to take the GRE?

Probably. Many graduate programs in the U.S. require current Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. The McNair Scholars Program offers preparation materials to help you practice for the exam and a fee reduction to take the exam.

Q: I am a graduate student. Am I eligible for the McNair Scholars Program?

Unfortunately, no. Students who have already completed their undergraduate degree are not eligible to participate in the program. 

Q: Is the McNair Scholars Program a scholarship?

No. Traditional scholarships are typically applied to costs associated with your enrollment, such as tuition and housing. The McNair Scholars program is an undergraduate research fellowship that prepares undergraduate students for graduate school through academic research and other scholarly activities.  

Q: I have a question that wasn’t addressed here, what should I do?

Please contact the McNair Scholars Program Director, Dr. Daniel Malpica: