To mark the end of its first year of operation, the McNair Scholars Program for undergraduates at Oklahoma State University is celebrating with its inaugural group of 25 scholars. The program provides research opportunities and academic support to first-generation, low-income and underrepresented undergraduate students to help them prepare to pursue doctoral degrees.
The McNair Scholars program is funded by a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to assist students not traditionally represented in doctoral education programs. The program works with faculty members to provide mentorship and involve students with research in their fields of interest. The research program is open to students in all majors and includes financial aid assistance, scholarships and tutoring as well as graduate support workshops and preparation.
The OSU Division of Institutional Diversity recognized a need to support underrepresented students in graduate education, leading to the program.
“We looked at the data relating to first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students pursuing graduate education, and across the board, we saw that the numbers were significantly lower for those populations of students,” said McNair Scholars Program Director Dr. Clyde C. Wilson Jr.
By completing research with faculty members, underrepresented students recognize they can attain a doctoral degree, Wilson said.
“Some of our students have never had anyone in their support circle who has attained a Ph.D.,” he said. “To be able to work with faculty on cutting-edge research, to publish their research and present at conferences gives them confidence in their abilities.”
In addition to building confidence and encouraging graduate education, McNair Scholars’ research will support Oklahoma State University’s land-grant mission to promote learning, advance knowledge, enrich lives and stimulate economic development through teaching, research, extension, outreach and creative activities.
The program will name 25 McNair Scholars for each year of the five-year grant. Scholars selection is based on eligibility criteria and students’ demonstrated passion for pursuing research and doctoral study. Eligible students in the targeted demographic groups are current juniors or seniors who maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA. Scholars must meet program requirements each semester to continue in the program.
Students interested in applying to the McNair Scholars Program and faculty members interested in working with McNair scholars can visit https://das.okstate.edu/mcnair.
Story by Kait Burton