Program Overview

Program Overview

Program Overview

The UC Davis McNair Scholars Program was born during the winter quarter in 1996. It is a two-year program funded by TRIO and the U.S. Department of Education. It is designed to encourage students from groups often underrepresented in graduate programs to pursue doctoral degrees. Eighteen to twenty UC Davis undergraduates and incoming transfer students are selected each year to participate in academic year and summer activities. 


To qualify for the McNair Scholars Program students must meet the following criteria:

  • Completed at least 90 quarter units (60-semester units) at the time of entry.
  • Have not completed a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science. 
  • A 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA.
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent U.S. residency.
  • Major in agriculture, biological sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, math, engineering, or humanities.
  • Must be a low-income student (Low-income guidelines are established by the US Department of Education) who is also a first-generation college student (neither parent or legal guardian has a Bachelor's degree); OR be a member of a group underrepresented in graduate education (African American, Native American, and Chicanx/Latinx).
  • Students who have transferred from a community college are especially encouraged to apply. 
  • Intend to pursue a Ph.D. after graduation. This program is not open to students intending to pursue professional degrees such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, management, or law.
  • Students who have already completed a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science are not eligible to participate in the program. This program is for junior or senior-level undergraduate students only.

Program Benefits

The McNair Scholars Program provides year-round services to prepare participants for acceptance into quality graduate programs of their choice.

  • Workshops and seminars provide information on such topics as selecting a graduate school, the graduate school application process, graduate financial aid, library research skills, technical writing, polishing computer skills, strengthening academic skills, Graduate Record Examination preparation and more.
  • Faculty research mentors help students formulate their research interests and develop their research skills.
  • We provide individualized assistance to help students with their undergraduate academic needs (planning, counseling, tutoring, GRE preparation, and application process.) and to help identify graduate schools and special programs of interest. Also, we assist in admission to graduate programs of choice.
  • Networking and making new friends with the same interests. Plus access to information and opportunities that one normally wouldn't hear about.
  • A summer research internship for 18-20 students is provided during each summer. Benefits include working with a faculty mentor, a stipend (up to $2,800 summer research stipend) and up to 3 units of independent study credit.

Program Services

We are happy to offer the following services to UC Davis McNair Scholars:

  • Free tutoring
  • Academic advising
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) preparation
  • Funding for travel to research conferences
  • Pre-graduate school advising
  • Presentation assistance
  • Presentation technology training
  • A big study room
  • Computer access
  • E-mail access
  • Class schedule planning
  • Basic budgeting help
  • Basic career counseling
  • Mentoring by graduate students
  • Help to choose a faculty research mentor
  • Science writing assistance
  • Publication opportunities

Program Components

First-Year Sample Calendar

Late Summer Fall Winter and Spring First McNair Summer
  • McNair Program Orientation
  • Academic Advising and Assessment
  • Pre-Graduate School Information
  • Library Research Techniques
  • Special Workshops and Meetings
  • Vocabulary and Verbal Skills Enhancements
  • Weekly Seminars
  • Preparation for Research and Presentation Skills
  • Choosing a Graduate Program
  • Undergraduate Research Conferences and Trips
  • McNair Scholars Complete Summer Research Internships
  • Preparation for Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • Present Summer Research at Conference

Program Expectations

Our program has high expectations for our McNair Scholars. We offer full academic support throughout the year for our students so that they can maximize their potential and obtain their educational goals.

  • Program participants are expected to take part in all workshops and seminars, utilize individual support services whenever appropriate, maintain a 3.0 GPA or better and maintain a full-time course load during the academic year.
  • Students develop a diverse portfolio including a curriculum vitae, statement of purpose, electronic research presentation, and evidence of research and scholarly activity to facilitate their graduate school application.
  • All senior year participants are expected to take the Graduate Record Examination and apply to graduate programs, as well as present their findings at a conference.

Application Information

If you want more information about how to obtain McNair application, click here. Application materials include:

  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • College transcripts
  • Tax information (Please provide us with the first two pages of tax form 1040)
  • McNair application

McNair Alumni

UC Davis offers two McNair Graduate Internal Fellowships to former McNair Scholars who have been accepted to a UC Davis Ph.D. program. See the Graduate Studies website for details.

Other McNair Programs

A list of other funded McNair programs can be found at the Department of Education TRIO website.