Eligibility Requirements and Expectations

The TRiO McNair Scholars Program prepares undergraduates for graduate study at the doctoral level. Twenty-six McNair Scholars are selected to participate in both academic and summer activities. Two-thirds of the McNair Scholars at USD must be both first-generation and low-income students. First generation is defined as an individual who's parent(s) did not complete a bachelors degree. The following link will direct you to the U.S. Department of Education website defining low-income for 2016. (DoE Low-income). The remaining participants may be from groups that are underrepresented in graduate education. The aim of the TRiO McNair Scholars Program is to increase the numbers of groups underrepresented in doctoral programs.

Eligibility requirements for participating in the USD TRiO McNair Scholars Program:

  • Completion of at least 60 units
  • 3.0 minimum cumulative USD GPA
  • US Citizenship or permanent US Residency
  • Qualifies as either first generation college student who also has an income level as established by the US Department of Education; or is a member of a group that is underrepresented in graduate education
  • The desire to pursue doctoral study
  • The need for academic and other support to encourage the dream of graduate study


The Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program requires a considerable amount of commitment, not only to applying for graduate school, but in participation in program activities. All Scholars must commit themselves to the time and effort it will take to successfully complete the program.

All Scholars are expected to attend monthly meetings and coordinate with staff to make up any missed material. One-on-one meetings are held periodically in order to develop an individualized plan of action for each Scholar. Other program activities include guest speakers, GRE group study sessions, and various trips to graduate school recruitment seminars. During the summer session, scholars are encouraged to participate in a 8 -10 week summer research program.