Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and Answers

FAQ

McNair scholar presentation

McNair Scholars Program FAQs

1.      Do I have to be enrolled full time to be considered for the program?
 
No. You must; however, be enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at PSU to qualify for the program. The program prefers that students are enrolled full time, but makes exceptions for advanced students that do not need additional credits. 

2.  Are students from all academic majors eligible to apply?

 Yes. We encourage undergraduate students from any major to apply for the program. 
 
3.      I’m a post-baccalaureate student; am I eligible for the program?
 
No. Students who have already completed a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science are not eligible to participate in the program. This program is for junior or senior level undergraduate students only.
 
4.      I am a graduate student; am I eligible for the program?
 
No. Students who have already completed a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science are not eligible to participate in the program. This program is for junior or senior level undergraduate students only.
 
5.      I’m planning on graduating in the spring; can I still apply for the program?
 
Yes. You can apply; however, if you are accepted into the program, you will need to move your graduation date to the end of the summer term. You can participate in Spring commencement; but you will receive your degree in August (end of summer term). We request that you move your graduation date to the end of the summer term because students who have completed a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science before the summer term are not eligible for stipends offered through the program. Please note that in order to stay eligible for the program, you must not graduate until you have completed the McNair program. The program runs from January to August each year. 

6.      What is the time commitment for the program?
 
The program runs from Winter to Summer during the academic year.  You will be enrolled in a 3-credit research seminar during Winter and Spring terms. The work load and time commitment are comparable to any other 3-credit class at PSU. The assignments and activities for the seminars are to help you complete your research proposal and create compelling applications to graduate and PhD programs.
 
During Summer term, you will be enrolled in a 4-credit research seminar that is focused on completing your research project. It is expected that you will work on your research project about 30 to 40 hours per week during the summer.  We ask scholars not to work or to take academic courses during summer term in order to focus on their research projects.
 
The 10 total seminar credits are upper division elective credits that count toward your overall undergraduate degree. The tuition for these credits are reimbursed to you by the university.
 
7.      Is this a scholarship?
 
No. While we are called the McNair Scholars Program, this is an undergraduate research fellowship rather than a traditional scholarship. The program does not provide money to pay for your tuition like a scholarship would. Instead, this is an undergraduate research program that helps prepare undergraduates for graduate school and academic research. There is a stipend associated with completing a research project in the Summer.
 
8.      I want to apply, but I’m new to PSU and I don’t know who to ask to be my mentor. What should I do?
 
We encourage students to make appointments with professors during their office hours. This is a great way to get to know your professors and to also get more out of the classes you are taking. Let your professors know that you are interested in conducting undergraduate research and that you are applying to the PSU McNair Scholars Program.
 
9.      Who qualifies as “low-income”, “first-generation”, and “under-represented”

The federal government publishes low-income levels that are based on taxable income, number of people claimed on the tax form and the state the tax payer resides. The current applicable income levels are found on the US Department of Education website. Go to <www.ed.gov> then search for "low income levels."

First-generation student means the neither of the student's parents or guardians graduated from college with a baccalaureate before the student turned 18 years old. 

Under-represented student is a student that self identifies as Native American, Alaska Native, Hawaiian, Samoan or other indigenous Pacific Islander from an American territory, African American, Hispanic or Latino/Latina.

Please see the "Eligibility Criteria" page for more details.
 
10.      I plan to take a full-time course load for winter and spring term, can I still participate in the program?
 
Yes.  You may apply, however, keep in mind that if you are accepted into the program, you will be required to enroll in a 3-credit course during Winter term, and a 3-credit course during Spring term. Anticipate 3 credits of academic work associated with each of these seminars. You will also be enrolled in a 4-credit course during Summer term. 
 
11.  Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
 
Two letters of recommendation should come from professors. One of those two letters should be from a professor in your academic major, or the academic area that you are interested in for graduate school. Your third recommendation can also be from a professor, or an academic advisor, or someone who you have worked closely with in a research capacity, or someone familiar with your extracurricular activities.
 
It is always a good idea to ask people who you know will write excellent letters of recommendation for you.  Look for someone who will be able to speak about your academic achievements, and your ability to do well and successfully complete the McNair Scholars Program and, eventually, graduate school. Letters from immediate family members are not acceptable.
 
12.  I am an international student, am I eligible for the program?
 
No. Only US Citizens or Permanent Residents are eligible to apply for this federally-funded US Department of Education program.
 
13.  Do I need to have an already formulated research question and topic in order to apply?

No. It is not required that you have a formulated research question and topic prior to applying; however, in your application essay, you are asked to discuss a potential research question and topic that you would be interested in exploring for your McNair research project. This is an undergraduate research program and having an idea of what you might like to explore will help you do well in the program.
 
14.  I want to go to graduate school but I’m not sure if I want to pursue a PhD, is this the right program for me?
 
Maybe. Our program is designed specifically for students who are interested in obtaining a PhD. If you are not sure, the program may help you decide.
 
15.  I want to get a MD and become a medical doctor; is this program right for me?

Maybe. Our program is designed specifically for students who are interested in obtaining a PhD. If you are interested in exploring MD/PhD or advanced research in medical sciences, the McNair program can be helpful.
 
16.  I want to get a law degree (JD), is this program right for me?

 No. Our program is designed specifically for students who are interested in obtaining a PhD.
 
17.  My GPA is below a 3.0. Should I still apply?

 Yes. GPA is only one part of the application, and the selection committee reviews the application as a whole based on established criteria.

18. Which majors are considered science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) ?

PSU has numerous majors and minors that are considered STEM. Here is a partial list of STEM majors at PSU: Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geology, Mathematics, Statistics, Physics, Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Computer Programming.

19. I was not accepted the last time I applied. Can I apply again?

Yes. You can apply again as long as you are eligible.

20. Is there a maximum number of credit limit for this program?

Yes. If you have enough credits to graduate, we encourage you to file for graduation. You will need to present a compelling argument for why you should receive a McNair award instead of graduating.

 

McNAIR APPLICATION CHECKLIST