TRIO McNair Scholars Program

The Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program is named in honor of the second African American astronaut to reach space. Also known as the McNair Scholars Program, it’s one of the federally-funded programs under the TRIO umbrella. McNair Scholars supports and encourages first-generation and underrepresented students in their pursuit of post-graduate doctoral degrees.

Who Qualifies?

Undergraduate juniors or seniors with a 3.00 GPA and at least two years remaining in their program who wish to pursue a doctoral degree who meet one of two criteria:

  • First-generation and low-income
  • Member of one of these underrepresented groups, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American/Alaskan Native, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian

Support Provided

McNair Scholars are provided with research opportunities, faculty mentoring and seminars to prepare them for doctoral study. Nationwide, there are upwards of 180 McNair projects, serving more than 5,200 students.

At CU Denver, the program serves 25 academically-skilled juniors and seniors each year who have strong ambitions to complete their Ph.D.

Like our CU Denver TRIO Student Support Services, McNair Scholars is committed to providing resources that foster intellectual, personal, and professional growth for all program participants:

  • Paid Summer Research Internship
  • Graduate School Visits
  • Research Coaching
  • Graduate School Application Fee Waivers
  • Funding for Travel to Academic Conferences
  • McNair Specific Research Conferences
  • Monthly Professionalization Seminars
  • McNair-specific Recruitment Opportunities

Who is Ronald McNair?

Astrophysicist and Challenger Astronaut

Ronald E. McNair, PhD was a physicist and NASA astronaut from Lake City, South Carolina. Nationally-recognized for his work in laser physics, McNair was a mission specialist on the Challenger space shuttle.

Recognized Hero

After a successful first flight, McNair was killed in 1986 when the Challenger disintegrated nine miles above the Atlantic Ocean. His legacy lives on through those influenced by his unbending determination, regardless of the obstacle. The Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program supports students who share his strong ambitions of completing a PhD program and earning a doctoral degree.

Outstanding Student

After graduating as valedictorian of Carver High School in 1967, McNair earned his bachelor’s degree in physics with accolades from North Carolina A&T State University and his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. He was among the few selected to work with NASA, where in 1984 he became just the second African American to fly a space mission.

Interested in joining the CU Denver McNair Scholars Community?

TRIO Student Support Services & McNair Scholars

CU Denver

Student Commons Building

1201 Larimer Street


Denver, CO 80204


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