Frequently Asked Questions

What is the McNair Scholars Program?

The McNair Scholars Program prepares talented, highly motivated UNH undergraduates for entrance to PhD programs in all fields of study. The goals of the program are to increase the number of first-generation students with financial need and/or underrepresented students in PhD programs, and ultimately, to diversify the faculty in colleges and universities across the country. McNair Scholars participate in unique programming and educational activities designed to give them a competitive edge when applying to graduate school and to prepare them for success in their pursuit of a Ph.D. degree.

Students in the program represent a diversity of academic majors. The program provides research fellowships on a competitive basis and has two essential components – the academic year and the summer. During these components, the following services are delivered: academic planning and advising, faculty mentoring, undergraduate research, and graduate school preparation. The program aims to provide the flexibility for students to choose the trajectory necessary for their own academic success. Therefore, the program provides a framework of activities and skills necessary for success at the graduate school level wherein students can select offerings that fit their individual needs.

What is a McNair Academic Year Component?

The academic year component is open to UNH eligible students only. Awards target sophomore and junior students and might be available to some seniors. Activities in which participants will be involved include:

  • A 2-credit INCO course during the spring semester designed to develop an understanding of academic research and to help students narrow their research interests into a proposal

  • Cultural/social enrichment events

  • Regular meetings to strategically approach identifying the best fit graduate school programs with the McNair advisor

  • Competitive access to a summer research fellowship (contingent upon satisfactory completion of expectations and successful research grant proposal as determined by the McNair Advisory Committee)

  • A monthly research seminar series to aid in the development of an understanding of the culture of graduate school

  • Execution of an undergraduate research project under the supervision of a faculty researcher (within the context of an independent study)

What is a McNair Summer Component?

UNH students must have participated in the academic year component in order to be a summer research fellow. Participants engage in an integrated, intensive, eight-week (minimum) graduate school preparation program that includes:

  • Two-credit research seminar aimed at developing research writing and presentation skills

  • One-credit workshop dedicated to graduate school selection, application, strategies for success, funding, and more

  • GRE (graduate school entrance exam) preparation course

  • Direction in executing a research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor

  • Participation in writing skills workshops and individualized writing consultation services

  • Social and Cultural events, including a community building event at the Browne Center

  • Room and board expenses and stipend for research expenses

  • Opportunity to present research during the weekly lunch series

What are the benefits of being a McNair Scholar?

McNair participants are recognized throughout the nation as dedicated students who have taken extra steps in preparing themselves for the graduate and doctoral experience. Although successful completion of the McNair Program depends on personal commitment and hard work, there are many ways in which research fellows can benefit from participation:

  • Opportunity to conduct and present research during the summer and academic year under the guidance of a faculty mentor

  • Assistance in understanding the culture of graduate school, guidance in selecting the right graduate school, preparing applications, and financing graduate programs

  • Opportunities to present and publish research

  • On-going consultation and support from faculty mentors and staff to help ensure success in making the transition from undergraduate to graduate education

  • Inclusion in a national database of McNair scholars that is submitted to the majority of graduate programs within the U.S.

  • Workshops and credit courses (i.e. GRE preparation) designed to prepare scholars for postgraduate study

  • Participation in social and cultural events held throughout the year

  • Funding for graduate school visits and travel to professional conferences related to academic interests and research

  • Help in securing graduate school application fee waivers from over 600 participating institutions

  • $3,000 - $3,500 research stipend, distributed in increments during the summer and/or academic year

Who is academically eligible to apply?

Sophomore and junior students in good academic standing who wish to engage in undergraduate research are encouraged to apply. Carefully review the eligibility requirements below. Applicants must meet ALL of the following requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Have achieved the following academic standing at the time of application:
    • Sophomore (must have achieved junior status by the start of the summer component) or
    • Junior (must not be graduating for at least one more academic year)
    • First-semester senior (who already has verifiable, academic research experience)
  • Have a minimum overall GPA of a 3.0 
  • Have a strong interest in doctoral study and a willingness to consider a career in academia as a scholar or researcher*
  • Be a first-generation student (meaning neither parent has received a four-year, bachelor’s degree) who is economically disadvantaged (as determined by the US Department of Education criteria), or be a student from a group that is underrepresented in graduate programs (African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Pacific Islander or Native American)

*Please note that individuals whose sole interest is obtaining a professional doctorate such as the Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), Juris Doctorate (JD), or Medical Doctorate (MD) are not eligible for the program, unless interested in the possibility of a dual degree (JD/PhD, MD/PhD, etc.). Individuals with such interests are encouraged to apply.

What is expected of me as a McNair Scholar?

All McNair program participants must:

  • Participate in all scheduled McNair activities
  • Meet regularly with the faculty mentor (at least twice a month during the academic year and at least once a week for summer fellows)
  • Meet all deadlines for submission of required documents
  • Attend all courses, seminars, and classes
  • Complete needs assessments, create educational action plans, and identify graduate schools to which you plan to apply
  • Maintain a satisfactory GPA of 3.0 or higher from the time of acceptance into the program until graduation
  • Cooperate with follow-up surveys in subsequent years
  • Academic year participants are required to meet with the Program Advisor on a monthly basis during the academic year and summer Fellows are required to meet with the Program Advisor on a weekly basis during the summer Fellowship period
  • Present the research at a local, regional or national symposium or conference

How can I obtain academic credit?

Summer participants may receive up to 3 credits for participating in courses and workshops offered during the summer fellowship program (see description of Summer Component above). As participants undertake their research projects during the academic year, they are encouraged to enroll in an independent study through their academic department and obtain credit for their research. This is entirely dependent upon the regulations of your academic department; you will need to contact the appropriate personnel to obtain approval before you begin your research.

Is there a requirement as to the length of the research project?

A research project must be at least two consecutive semesters (e.g. summer/fall or fall/winter). During the summer, a research project must be at least 8 weeks for a minimum of 40 hours per week, scheduled between June and July. The project must be carried out under the supervision of a faculty advisor, and additional collaboration with a postdoctoral Fellow or graduate student mentor is encouraged.

What should I do to start writing a proposal?

  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to identify a suitable and willing faculty mentor to supervise the research.
  • Applicants should discuss initial ideas with the faculty to narrow or expand the scope of the work (as appropriate).
  • Applicants should also ask for feedback on the written proposal from the faculty mentor. Do note that the faculty mentor will need to submit a letter of support with the application. Proposals must be submitted electronically to the McNair director.

(UNH McNair scholars must enroll in the spring semester INCO 610 seminar for assistance with the writing of the research proposal.)

Format requirements:

  • Must be type-written in 12 point, Times or Times-Roman font.
  • Must be double-spaced, left justified, and printed on only one side of each page.
  • Must have a title page that includes your name, the name of the faculty mentor (identified as such), and the title of the project.
  • Each page must have the last name of the applicant as the right header.
  • The title of the proposal must be centered on the first page of text and bolded.
  • Budget – itemize all expenses directly related to the research project (see Research Supplies).
  • Citation sources may be MLA or APA. Cite accurately and consistently.
  • Include a "Works Cited" page at the end of the proposal.

Proposal Guidelines:

Fellows are expected to follow the research proposal guidelines indicated below. All drafts of the proposal are due in the McNair office by March 15. The proposal must be at least six pages in length (excluding works cited page, budget and timeline), but not more than twelve pages. The mentor must submit a letter of support to the proposed project.

The following categories should be included in the project proposal:

Definition of Project – what is the problem, question, theme or issue to be addressed?

  • History and Background – what is the historical or theoretical context? What has or has not been done concerning this research topic? Conduct a substantive review of the literature. Weave literature review through a conceptual framework.
  • Justification/Significance – why is this research needed? What are the broader implications of this study (social, practical, cultural, intellectual, etc.)?
  • Methods/Methodology – what approaches, procedures, theories or lines of thinking will be used to gather the data or address the subjects? Why will the identified approaches, procedures or philosophical perspectives be used?
  • Resources Needed – what will be needed to conduct this study (e.g. labs, equipment, computer services, library holdings)? Are off-campus resources required? If so, what are they? What is the plan to access them?
  • Budget – itemize all expenses directly related to the research project.
  • Timeline – outline the schedule of the project, identifying the expected start and completion times as well as showing time allotted to each major portion.
  • Works Cited – list all primary and secondary sources utilized in the proposal, in the appropriate field/discipline format.

Research Supplies:

Research supplies include books, travel relevant to the project and research related equipment or tools. As part of the budget process, research expenses should be delineated and submitted with the research proposal. When itemizing expenses, list: cost per unit, number needed, total cost of each line item, and the item’s significance to your project. Each student may request up to a maximum of $500 for research related expenses. Shipping and handling costs should be factored into all budget requests where applicable. The research budget may include the following categories: general supplies, travel, equipment, and other expenses. (Consult the McNair Handbook for more information on each category.)

How will proposals be selected?

The McNair Advisory Committee will meet to select the Fellowship recipients. Selection criteria include significance of the work and feasibility (including scope of the research and the student's preparation for carrying out the project). The committee also aims to have a balance of disciplines represented as well as a balance of students at varying stages of their academic tenure. Proposals will be scored and ranked. Priority funding will be given to those proposals that score highest.

How many Fellowship awards do you anticipate?

We expect to make at least 20 individual awards. We anticipate that 15 awards will be granted to new applicants and 5 will be granted to participants whose research projects have evolved and who justify the need for continued support.

What is the typical amount of a Fellowship award?

A stipend of $3,000 (but not more than $3,500) will be awarded to all participants who execute a faculty guided research project through a UNH McNair Fellowship.

How is the Fellowship stipend distributed?

Students selected to participate in the summer will receive their stipend in weekly installments during the eight-week period. The final summer installment will be reserved for distribution after the completion and submission of the required final materials. Stipends for participants who conduct research during the academic year will be disseminated in installments at the end of the semester. In both the academic year and summer components, stipends will be distributed on condition that students have met academic requirements, including submission of weekly research journal logs and attendance at and participation in the McNair Research Seminar Series.

Does the Fellowship include housing and living expenses?

Room and board costs may be accommodated during the summer only, such costs should be included in the proposal budget. The distribution of funds for room and meals may differ depending on individual circumstance. In the event that the McNair program is directly arranging room and meals, funds for these costs will be paid directly to the vendor. Further, if the McNair program is coordinating housing and meals for participants on the Durham campus, accommodations will only include the official dates of the summer calendar. If you have questions, check with the McNair staff for clarification.

What expectations exist for the research?

Do take note that the research experience provides students with the opportunity to understand that research requires a great deal of internal motivation and self-discipline. It is important for Fellows to learn the entire research process, from planning stages to completion, so that they are better prepared for graduate studies. Therefore, once the research Fellowship has been awarded, students are expected to:

  • Secure necessary Internal Review Board (IRB) or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval before commencing the research. (Students are encouraged to apply for IRB or IACUC approval while waiting for the McNair Advisory Committee’s notification of grant recipients.) Contact Julie Simpson, the Regulatory Compliance Manager at the Office of Sponsored Research. Her number is 603-862-2003 and her email address is julie.simpson@unh.edu
  • Begin the research project as outlined in the proposal adhering to the approved timeline
  • Spend a minimum of 40 hours per week during the summer or 15 hours per week during the academic year completing research responsibilities as stated in the proposal and as more specifically defined by the faculty mentor
  • Submit weekly research logs demonstrating progress toward completion of the project. The logs require the approval of the faculty mentor
  • Attend the Lunch Seminar Series to develop/refine academic research skills, explore concepts related to graduate school, and share insights on the research project
  • Present and discuss the research results at an academic conference or symposium, either locally or nationally
  • Evaluate the research project and the overall experience through various program constructed evaluations and debriefings

Is there a culminating expectation to the research?

At the end of the research project (as defined in the proposal), each student must submit a summary evaluation. In addition, each student must prepare a research article of publishable quality. In addition, faculty mentors are asked to complete and submit an evaluation of the student's progress and the overall value of the research project. All evaluations and the article are due in the McNair office one week following the completion of the research. (Successful applicants should acknowledge support from the federal TRIO McNair Program in any publications resulting from the project.)

Further, after the eight-week summer session the program organizes attendance at a professional McNair conference or visits to a major city for the purpose of examining programs of graduate study. While the end-of-summer cultural excursion remains optional, it is strongly encouraged as it represents the final gathering of the summer cohort of scholars, and as such it can be seen as a culminating event.

How can I get an application?

Please go to the “Apply to the Program” page.

If you have additional questions please contact us via e-mail or phone (603) 862-0088.