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Program Information

What Students Receive from the McNair Program

  • Mentorship from a UC San Diego faculty member
  • 4 units of 199 independent study credit during both the winter and spring quarters
  • A series of workshops on writing, researching, and applying to graduate school
  • During the summer, students will receive a $2,800 fellowship, free on-campus housing, a free GRE prep course, and an additional 4 units of 199 independent study credit (for a total of 12 units)
  • Application fee waivers from many graduate schools (See list here)

What Students Do in the McNair Program

  • Work as a research assistant at least 10 hours a week during the winter and spring quarters and 30 hours a week for 8 weeks during the summer.
  • Write a research proposal and paper and present their research at a minimum of two research conferences.
  • Attend a series of program events in winter, spring, and summer quarters.

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 Ph.D. 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)

Contact Us

The McNair Program

Program Coordinator: Thomas K. Brown, Ph.D.
Phone: (858) 534-2937
Location: Student Center Building B, 1st Floor (please check in at OUR front desk)