Skip to main content

How to Apply


Thirty McNair scholars will be selected annually on a competitive basis. You are eligible to apply if you meet the following criteria: 

  • Have at least a 3.0 grade point average
    • GPA requirement can be achieved by the end of the spring quarter in which you are in the program.
  • Have an interest in pursuing a Ph.D.
  • Are a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident
  • Are a junior or senior
  • Are a first-generation college student who is low-income OR a member of a group underrepresented in graduate study (African American, Alaskan Native, American Indian, Chicano, or Latino)

There are no major requirements. All majors are welcome and encouraged to apply. 

Additional Requirements

  • During the winter and spring quarters, students must be enrolled full-time at UC San Diego.
  • During the summer quarter, students cannot work or take classes other than the 199 independent study course. 

Application Materials

The following 3 items are required as part of your application to the McNair Program:

Copies of Transcripts

  • If you are an incoming transfer student (You do not have a UC San Diego GPA):
    • A copy of your transcript(s) from previous school(s) (community colleges, other universities, etc.)
  • If you have been at UC San Diego at least one quarter:
    • A copy of your UC San Diego transcript
    • If applicable, a copy of your transcript(s) from previous school(s) (community colleges, other universities, etc.)

Personal Statement

  • Word count requirement: 750 words or less
  • State your purpose in applying to the McNair Scholars Program at UC San Diego. 
    • Topics to cover: your research interests, experience, educational goals, career objectives, and how participation in the UC San Diego McNair Program will help you attain your educational and career goals. 
    • This is also a good opportunity to explain the development of your educational and career goals, and how you overcame obstacles, achieved academic goals, and/or conditions that may have adversely impacted your academic advancement in college. 
  • Be sure to proofread and edit your personal statement many times before submitting. It is also advised to have someone else review it and provide feedback. 
    • In addition to spelling, grammar, and punctuation, review your personal statement for clarity, flow, and continuity of points. 
    • Remember to use paragraphs to separate main points. 

Letter of Recommendation

  • Don't wait! We strongly advise that you contact your letter-writer as soon as possible to ask whether they will write a letter on your behalf. 
  • Who can write a letter of recommendation: It's generally best to obtain a letter from a faculty member (professor) who knows you, although the letter-writer doesn't need to be a professor. Most applicants receive a letter from a UC San Diego professor or from a professor at a college or university they attended previously (students who have recently transferred to UC San Diego usually obtain a letter from someone at their previous institution). Whether or not the letter-writer is a professor, he or she should know you and be familiar with your intellectual ability, quality of previous work, ability to work independently, promise of productive scholarship, and graduate school potential. 
  • Submitting the letter of recommendation: Applicants will provide the name and email address within the McNair application of one person from whom they are requesting a letter of recommendation. Once an applicant saves the information about their letter-writer within the application, an email is automatically sent to that person. 


If we secure McNair funding beyond this academic year, applications will open again in September. If you would like to apply to any URH programs, you can start by completing the general application here.

Start General Application


View 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)