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TRIO/McNair Scholars Program

McNair Students


To encourage, support and assist academically promising students who have been historically underrepresented in various fields to pursue education through the doctoral level.


Providing academic support, enhancement workshops, faculty mentoring, summer research experience, and preparation for graduate school to eligible students during the junior and/or senior years of their undergraduate degree.

The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program is made possible through a U.S. Department of Education grant. This grant enables the TRIO/McNair Scholars Program at Southeast Missouri State University to provide experience of scholarly research/graduate work and collaboration opportunities with faculty as students prepare for graduate school.

Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D.

Ronald McNair

Whiting, Melanie, editor. “Astronaut Bio: Ronald E. McNair.” NASA Astronauts Homepage, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Dec. 2003, Accessed 5 June 2017.

Dr. McNair was one of the first African-American astronauts and the second to travel in space. Born October 21, 1950 in Lake City, South Carolina, he graduated from Carver High School in 1967; received a B.S. in Physics from North Carolina A&T State University in 1971; and at the age of 26, earned a Ph.D. in Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

While at MIT, Dr. McNair performed some of the earliest development of chemical HF/DF and high-pressure CO lasers. His later experiments and theoretical analysis on the interaction of intense CO2 laser radiation with molecular gases provided new understandings and applications for highly excited polyatomic molecules.

Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in January 1978. He first flew as a mission specialist on STS 41-B which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on February 3, 1984. In 1986, at the age of 35, his remarkable life came to an end when the Challenger exploded on lift-off.

In his honor, the U.S. Congress established the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage first-generation college students from financially and historically disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue graduate education.

Applicants must meet all of the following:

  • Successful completion of 60 credit hours at time of program entry
  • Commitment to attend graduate school in pursuit of; Ph.D., Ed.D., Psy.D., or D.S.W.
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent U.S. resident
  • First-generation college student (neither parent has earned a bachelor’s degree) who meets federal low-income guidelines OR member of traditionally under-represented ethnic population (includes most U.S. ethnic minorities)

This is a selective admission program. Once eligibility is verified, applicants must complete the application and interview process.

All of the following services are provided through federal funding and are free for active TRIO/McNair Scholars. The services are designed to provide students with effective preparation for doctoral study:

  • Academic counseling
  • Assistance in navigating the graduate school application and financial process
  • Collaborative faculty/student research
  • College Success Seminars
  • Financial literacy programs
  • Graduate school visits
  • GRE Preparation workshops
  • Mentoring program with faculty/staff & student
  • Potential summer internship/research stipend
  • Travel opportunities to present research at regional/national conferences
This information is currently being updated and will be available at a later time. Thanks!


University Center 202

McNair Scholars Program
One University Plaza, MS1550
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701