The TRIO McNair Scholars Program is a graduate school preparatory program funded by the U.S. Department of Education and sponsored by St. Olaf College. The TRIO McNair Program was founded in 1989 and initiated at St. Olaf College in 2007. Nationally there are 158 McNair programs working with over 4,400 students.
The federally mandated goal of McNair is to increase the number of low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students who participate in undergraduate research, graduate with a B.A., and immediately enter and complete graduate school, with a specific focus on obtaining a Ph.D.
- Annually, 28 undergraduates participate in the St. Olaf TRIO McNair Scholars Program.
- Two-thirds of the participants meet federal income guidelines and are from a family in which neither parent graduated from a four-year postsecondary educational institution.
- One-third of the participants may be from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in graduate studies and the professoriate. (The federal government defines “underrepresented” to include: Black (non-Hispanic); Hispanic; and American Indian/Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.)
- Participants have completed at least 2 courses in their area of research interest and have a GPA of 2.75 or higher.
- On or off-campus internship placement – summer of sophomore year to explore fields of academic study
- Research experience – summer of junior year – participants are paired with a faculty mentor in their field
- Research writing class (one credit & WRI) – summer of junior year
- Preparation for graduate school admissions tests
- Graduate school search and application assistance
- Financial aid, fellowship, and scholarship application assistance
Objectives and Outcomes
All TRIO McNair projects must meet the federally approved program objectives each academic year. Following are the St. Olaf TRIO McNair objectives: Objective 1: 90% of participants will complete research or scholarly activities each academic year. Objective 2: 40% of B.A. recipients will enroll in graduate school immediately following graduation. Objective 3: 80% of first-year graduate students will continue to be enrolled in graduate school. Objective 4: 10% of participants will attain a Ph.D. within ten years.
McNair Scholars Faculty Mentors
McNair faculty mentors are professors from all disciplines at St. Olaf College and are interested in guiding summer research experiences with high potential, first-generation, and minority undergraduates. McNair Scholars faculty members are recognized by colleagues and students as exceptional professors and campus leaders.
(Dr. Grace Cho is pictured with her 2020 summer virtual research team, DeA Brown and Wei Ting Hsieh.)