Why be a McNair Scholar?
Being a University of Alabama McNair Scholar is a life-changing experience full of challenges, rewards, and opportunities. A select group of undergraduates begin the program each academic year. Scholars commit, as they enter the program, to apply to graduate school and proceed to graduate study after completing their baccalaureate degree. New McNair Scholars are selected during fall semester to begin the program during the upcoming spring semester. These new Scholars embark together in January on a year-long research experience, each working on individual research in collaboration with a Faculty Mentor, and the group participating together in seminars, travel, conferences, and other program activities.
Eligibility and Applications
To be eligible for selection as a McNair Scholar, applicants must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Be enrolled fulltime at The University of Alabama or Stillman College, earning an undergraduate degree
- Have at least a 3.0 overall GPA
- Have at least 60 hours credit before beginning the research internship
- Demonstrate potential for doctoral study
- Commit to at least a year’s participation in the program
- Submit a complete application by the deadline (usually the first Friday in November)
- Be one or both of the following:
- first-generation college (that is, neither parent completed a bachelor’s degree) and in financial need (as defined by federal standards) or
- member of a group underrepresented in graduate study
- For more information about eligibility and application, contact the Program Director.
Study and Research
During the first year in the program, the research year, Scholars design and conduct research while taking three courses together. McNair seminars are team-taught by McNair Faculty Fellows and the Director of the McNair Scholars Program; Fellows are faculty with a special interest in the program and expertise in supporting research by undergraduates. The seminar series consists of:
- NEW 223 in spring semester, a one-hour, ungraded seminar which introduces Scholars to the research process and supports their development of research proposals; a sample syllabus is available for review.
- UH 305 in summer, a 9-week, two-credit-hour, graded research internship, during which Scholars work fulltime implementing their research proposals and preparing for graduate school applications and conference presentations; a sample syllabus is available for review; and
- NEW 223 again in fall semester, which introduces Scholars to careers in academe and helps them develop scholarly writing abilities, as they prepare articles for publication in the University of Alabama McNair Journal; a sample syllabus is available for review.
Collaboration with Faculty
Scholars invariably and rightfully
credit faculty, especially their individual Faculty Mentors, as key to their
success in the program and beyond. Scholars meet regularly throughout the
year with their Faculty Mentors, with each Mentor serving as expert guide
and collaborator in the area in which the Scholar is conducting research.
Faculty Mentors provide direction, advice, and feedback and, in general,
help Scholars develop the knowledge and skills required to conduct
meaningful, valid research. Faculty Mentors also serve as role models and
provide guidance in the graduate school application process. Scholars are
also paired with Librarian Mentors who assist with literature searches,
locating reference materials, and other research tasks.
Scholars have access 24/7 to a computer lab/library in the McNair Scholars program area. They may borrow textbooks for use in the McNair Scholars seminar series and are provided flash drives for use during the research year. Program library resources and some equipment are available for check out. Year-round, the staff of the McNair Scholars Program are available to Scholars for advising, support, and other assistance. Scholars meet regularly with a Graduate Assistant Mentor, who serves as a role model and provides much practical assistance with assignments, graduate school applications, and more. The Program Director is available as needed, especially for advising on program and graduate school matters, as is the Program Assistant, who helps in particular with travel arrangements and financial matters.
benefits of being a University of Alabama McNair Scholar include a $2800
stipend during the research internship; approximately $1000 allowance
towards housing and food expenses during the summer research internship;
tuition for UH 305; some support of research expenses; and paid travel and
conference expenses, related to participating in a national McNair Scholars
research conference. Scholars may apply for financial assistance in visiting
graduate programs of interest and presenting their research at scholarly
conferences. Other, longer-term financial benefits may include waiver of
fees to apply to graduate schools across the country; opportunity to apply
for special scholarships reserved for McNair Scholars at many institutions
(including a tuition scholarship available to UA McNair Scholars pursuing
doctoral study at The University of Alabama), a scholarship to take a review
course for the GRE or other graduate school entrance exam; and the increased
earning power that accrues to completing graduate degrees. The University of
Alabama Graduate School offers a McNair Graduate Fellowship for which any
McNair Scholar may be nominated.
Preparing for Graduate Study
The mission of the program is to help Scholars be prepared and competitive for and, ultimately, successful in doctoral study. Participating in the research process—from design of a project through its implementation, presentation at conferences, and publication—is the heart of the McNair experience. Graduate students conduct thesis and dissertation research and are often involved in other research as well. By becoming involved with research as undergraduates, McNair Scholars are very well prepared for the research requirements of graduate study. McNair Scholars also learn how to identify and apply to graduate programs that will support their interests and goals; how to locate sources of financial support for graduate study; how to identify and develop working relationships with graduate faculty mentors; how to identify other sources of personal support and develop a network of professional contacts; what to anticipate in terms of the interpersonal and academic environment of graduate school; and much more that will help Scholars have a successful career in graduate school and beyond.
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