Frequently Asked Questions About the McNair Program

Is the McNair Program a scholarship?

No. The SUNY Geneseo McNair Scholars Program, supported by a U.S. Department of Education grant, is a research and graduate school preparatory program.

How do I know if I am considered first-generation, low-income, or underrepresented?

A first-generation college student is defined by the federal government as a student who has not resided with or received primary support from a parent who has received a BA degree or equivalent.

Low-income are established by the federal government. Check the guidelines to determine if you meet the criteria.

The U.S. Department of Education considers the following students underrepresented in higher education: Black or African American, Chicano(a) or Mexican American, Latino(a) or Hispanic American, Native American, Native Alaskan, Asian Pacific Islander.

Must I study a certain major in order to be considered?

Yes. Your primary major should be in a discipline from a STEM, Social Science, or Humanities area. 

What if my GPA  is below a 2.8?

Graduate admission committees generally look for doctoral applicants to have a minimum GPA of 2.8. Admission to the McNair Scholars Program is competitive, but applicants are encouraged to contact the McNair staff to discuss special circumstances. McNair Scholars must have a satisfactory GPA and 60 or more credits by the end of the spring semester. If you are working on correcting a grade, or feel that your GPA will be above a 2.8 by the end of the spring semester, you should apply for the McNair Scholars Program and explain any special circumstance in a letter accompanying your application.

I am a senior. Is it too late to become a McNair Scholar?

It may not be too late! Talk to a McNair staff member for more information. Seniors are accepted on a very limited basis.

I am a sophomore. Can I still become a McNair Scholar?

Yes! We highly encourage sophomores to apply as long as you will have completed 60 units (transferred or earned at SUNY Geneseo) by the end of the spring semester. 

What if I am interested in a professional degree (JD, MD, MBA, etc.) and I still want to participate?

The aim of the McNair Scholars Program is to diversify the faculty in U.S. institutions of higher education by reducing the barriers to the PhD for underrepresented individuals in graduate education. The McNair Program recognizes that first-generation/low-income undergraduate students and undergraduate students of color have a number of career possibilities to consider outside of academia. However, individuals who demonstrate particular interest in and motivation for doctoral study and the academic profession are likely to find the program satisfies their short and long term goals.

How will the Summer Research Experience (i.e., GIRO) relate to my other summer obligations (e.g., summer classes, summer job, family responsibilities, etc.)?

The Summer Research Experience is an intensive, time-consuming program that requires dedication and full-time commitment. Scholars are paid a summer stipend and provided on-campus housing and meals to offset the opportunity and financial costs associated with full time research. McNair Scholars may not take summer classes. In order to give summer research the attention it needs, scholars are not advised to work (and definitely not more than 10 hours per week) during the summer research weeks. However, limited summer employment is allowed following the approval from the Geneseo McNair Scholar Program Director.

Will participating in the program cost me anything?

No, just your time and dedication. We will cover the cost of most McNair required materials; you will not pay tuition dollars for McNair seminars or courses, and we will even cover reasonable research costs during your summer project. We will cover your travel costs and registration fees for various conferences. We can at times even pay for your attendance to cultural events. We are here to make academic life more enriching, not more expensive.

Can I participate in other research activities (i.e., REU) AND the McNair Scholars Program?

Yes! As long as you are not paid for these research activities at the same time, you may participate in multiple research activities during your undergraduate career. In fact, the McNair Scholars Program requires all scholars to get additional research experience. During your second year in the program, we will encourage you to apply for a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) opportunity.

About the Application

When is the application due?

Applications will open soon! Applications will close on Friday, March 22, 2024.

When applying, are the letter of recommendation also due by the application deadline?

No. Your recommendation writers will typically have a week after the deadline to submit their letter. Recommendation letters are due by Wednesday, November 22, 2023. Recommendations should be submitted online. Please forward the following link to your recommenders. 

Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation? 

Your letter writers should be able to speak to your academic accomplishments, work ethic, and potential for success in McNair and in graduate school. Faculty, instructors, professional staff, and others who have served in a supervisory capacity for you may be individuals you ask to write a letter on your behalf. Letters from family members, roommates, or peers will not be considered.