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The McNair Program

Ronald McNair portrait on black background


"I don't think I'd be in graduate school if it wasn't for the resources and guidance provided by McNair. The program gave me the tools, confidence and experience needed to not only get other research opportunities but be more prepared for grad school."

- Brenda Rincon, McNair 2019, current psychology PhD student at UC Riverside

History: About Ronald E. McNair and the McNair Program

  • Ronald Ervin McNair was born on October 12, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina, where he graduated as valedictorian from Carver High School in 1967. He attended North Carolina A&T University where he earned a bachelor's degree in physics, magna cum laude, in 1971. In 1976, he received his PhD in physics from MIT.
  • Dr. McNair was nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics. He was selected by NASA for the space shuttle program in 1978 from a pool of ten thousand applicants. In addition, he was a sixth-degree black belt in karate, an accomplished saxophonist, and the recipient of three honorary doctorates and a score of fellowships and commendations. 
  • McNair first flew as a mission specialist on the space shuttle which launched from Kennedy Space Center on February 3, 1984. Ronald E. McNair died on January 28, 1986, in a fiery explosion nine miles above the Atlantic along with six other crew members aboard the space shuttle Challenger. He was married and had two small children at the time of his death. After his death, the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program was funded by Congress. The goal of the program 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 pursue an academic career. This program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair’s life.”  (Learn more here)

Program Information

The McNair Program helps low-income, first-generation college students prepare for doctoral study. McNair students participate in research activities in the winter, spring, and summer quarters. Click below to learn more about the programs benefits and requirements.

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How to Apply

The application for the 2022-2023 McNair Program is closed. Check back in August/September for Fall 2023 Application.

Thinking of applying for the next cohort? Click below for more information about McNair eligibility and how to apply.

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McNair Community

Read more about our students and alumni.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Click below to review frequently asked questions about the McNair Program.

Frequently Asked Questions

McNair Program Coordinator

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Contact: Tom Brown, PhD


To make an appointment: