McNair Scholars Program

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The Bowie State University McNair Scholars Program

The Bowie State University McNair Scholars Program is one of 151 federal TRIO programs, funded across the United States and Puerto Rico by the U.S. Department of Education. It is designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. McNair participants are either first-generation college students with financial need, or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic potential. The goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to increase graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented segments of society. The Bowie State University McNair Scholars Program is STEM research-focused and therefore not intended for students who wish to pursue professional degrees such as medicine, law, or business management.


We formally recruit a new cohort of scholars during fall semester, but we invite you to reach out to us at any time during the school year for guidance on graduate school application process. We would be happy to help you find a path that will best fit your educational and career goal.  If you desire to obtain a Ph.D. and have an opportunity to conduct research, we strongly encourage you to take your PhD survey to tell us more about yourself.

To be eligible for the Bowie State University McNair Scholars Program, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Completed at least 90 quarter units (60 semester units) at time of entry.
  • A 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA (Junior) and 2.7 GPA (sophomore) respectively.
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent U.S. residency.
  • Come from a low-income family and be the first to complete a baccalaureate degree OR be a member of a group underrepresented in graduate education (including African American, Native American, and Chicano/Latino).
  • 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 transferred from a community college are especially encouraged to apply to our program.

Application Components

  • BSU McNair Scholars Program application
  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • College transcripts
  • Financial information

Application Deadline

We are currently accepting applications for our next cohort of scholars. Please contact the McNair Program staff with any questions.

About Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D. :

Dr. Ronald Erwin McNair was born October 21, 1950 in Lake City, South Carolina. While in junior high school, Dr. McNair was inspired to work hard and persevere in his studies by his family and by a teacher who recognized his scientific potential and believed in him. Dr. McNair graduated as valedictorian from Carver High School in 1967. In 1971, he graduated magna cum laude and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from North Carolina A&T State University (Greensboro). Dr. McNair then enrolled in the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1976, at the age of 26, he earned his Ph.D. in laser physics. His dissertation was titled, “Energy Absorption and Vibrational Heating in Molecules Following Intense Laser Excitation.” Dr. McNair was presented an honorary doctorate of Laws from North Carolina A&T State University in 1978, an honorary doctorate of Science from Morris College in 1980, and an honorary doctorate of science from the University of South Carolina in 1984.Read More

While working as a staff physicist with Hughes Research Laboratory, Dr. McNair soon became a recognized expert in laser physics. His many distinctions include being a Presidential Scholar (1971-74), a Ford Foundation Fellow (1971-74), a National Fellowship Fund Fellow (1974-75), and a NATO Fellow (1975). He was also a sixth degree black belt in karate and an accomplished saxophonist. Because of his many accomplishments, he was selected by NASA for the space shuttle program in 1978. His first space shuttle mission launched successfully from Kennedy Space Center on February 3, 1984. Dr. Ronald E. McNair was the second African American to fly in space. Two years later he was selected to serve as mission specialist aboard the ill-fated U.S. Challenger space shuttle. He was killed instantly when the Challenger exploded one minute, thirteen seconds after it was launched. Dr. McNair was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. After his death in the Challenger Space Shuttle accident on January 28, 1986, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. Their goal was to encourage low-income and first-generation college students, and students from historically underrepresented ethnic groups to expand their educational opportunities by enrolling in a Ph.D. program and ultimately pursue an academic career. This program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair’s life.

Contact Information:

Mr. Matthias Seisay

  • + (301) 860-4092
  • ms*****@bo********.edu