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McNair FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

I currently have a 2.9 GPA. Should I still consider applying to the McNair Program? 

Yes, if your GPA is a little below 3.0, please still apply to the McNair Program. You are not automatically disqualified because your incoming GPA is below 3.0. In reviewing your application materials, we will also consider the likelihood that you will be able to raise your GPA up to a 3.0 by the end of the spring quarter.   


What does it mean to be a “first-generation college student”?  

A first-generation college student is someone whose parents did not earn a 4-year bachelor’s degree. A student who lived with and was supported by only one parent are considered a first-generation student if that supporting parent did not earn a bachelor’s degree.  


What is considered “low-income”? 

See the Department of Education’s definition here


Do I need to have prior research experience to apply to the McNair Program? 

While prior research experience can help illustrate your interest in and capability for doing research, it is not a requirement.  If you do not have research experience, please still apply to the McNair Program. The program is here to help students both gain research experiences and build upon those they already have.   


Do I need to identify a faculty mentor before I submit my McNair application? 

You do not need to have a faculty mentor before applying, but it is best if you have some prospective faculty members in mind.  If you are accepted into the program, you will need to secure your faculty member soon after receiving your acceptance notification. 


Who can serve as my McNair faculty mentor? 

UC San Diego faculty members are eligible to serve as mentors for McNair scholars.  If you are unsure about whether your potential faculty mentor would be eligible, please contact McNair Program coordinator Dr. Tom Brown. 


How do I find a faculty mentor? 
There are a variety of tools and strategies that you can employ to identify a faculty mentor. 

Consider reaching out to professors who have taught you in courses connected to your areas of interest.  Talk to teaching assistants (TAs), instructional assistants (IAs), research assistants (RAs), or other people on campus who have shaped your intellectual life, and who might have contact with faculty members who serve as the principal investigator (PI) for a research lab.  Search the course catalog and departmental websites for faculty members who teach courses that you hope to soon take.  Utilize the Research Experience & Applied Learning (REAL) Portal and the UC San Diego Pivot database to search for faculty members working in fields related to your interests.   

If you have difficulties securing a mentor, contact the McNair Program coordinator Dr. Tom Brown as early as possible. 

Once you have identified a possible mentor, reach out via email to formally introduce yourself, explain your research interests in relationship to their work, and request whether they would be willing to meet with you in-person (or remotely) to further discuss the possibility of serving as a mentor.  While faculty members are busy—and sometimes may seem intimidating to approach—most often they are truly excited to meet enthusiastic young scholars who share their intellectual interests. 


I have another question that isn’t answered here.  Whom should I contact? 

Please contact the McNair Program coordinator Dr. Tom Brown. 

Contact Us

The McNair Program

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