Student Diversity, Engagement and Success

McNair Scholars

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program realizes the value of diversity among researchers and scholars in academia. It aims to prepare undergraduate students who have demonstrated strong academic potential for the rigor of doctoral studies. Through its participants engaging in research and other high impact educational practices, the McNair program intends to diversify the professoriate and other research-intensive careers. 

A central feature of the program is the mentoring provided by UW-Whitewater faculty, where each scholar receives guidance in working on an undergraduate research project, as well as regular contact with a professional role model during their first summer and academic year. Scholars participate in a research internship during their second summer at a university, regional or national research center. This program promotes:

  • Research and scholarly activities
  • Enrollment in graduate programs
  • Continued enrollment in graduate programs
  • Doctoral degree attainment


The Life of Ronald E. McNair

Dr Ronald McNair portraitRonald Erwin McNair was best known for his illustrious service to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Dr. McNair was born October 12, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina. He attended North Carolina AT&T State University, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1971 with a BS in Physics. Dr. McNair then enrolled in the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1976, at the age of 26, he earned a Ph.D. in Physics. Dr. McNair became a recognized expert in laser physics while working as a staff physicist with Hughes Research laboratory. He was selected by NASA for the space shuttle program in 1978 and was a mission specialist aboard the 1984 flight of the shuttle Challenger. Ronald McNair was tragically killed in the Challenger accident in 1986. After his death, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage college students to enroll in graduate studies.

A good candidate for the McNair program demonstrates a strong academic focus as well as a passion for their field of interest. Candidates must have an explicit interest in pursuing graduate education and be willing to engage in rigorous co-curricular activities. All academic disciplines are welcome.

Applicants are required to meet the following criteria:

1. Either low income & first generation OR groups underrepresented in graduate education (African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and American Pacific Islander)

3. Minimum 2.75 cumulative G.P.A (3.0 GPA preferred).

4. Earned 60 units by the end of term accepted into the program

5. Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

1.       Turn in completed materials to McCutchan Hall 219 or electronically to

2.       Complete meeting with a McNair staff to review application materials, undergraduate research plan and graduate school plan.

3.       McNair Advisory Committee will confirm prospects after formal review.

4.       Sign McNair Scholars Program Student agreement.