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Applying to the McNair Scholars Program

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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

McNair is designed to help mentor students who are interested in learning about the research process and pursuing a doctoral graduate degree. Many Knox McNair Scholars have won academic awards, presented their research at conferences around the country, published their research in scholarly journals, and, most importantly, been accepted into top tier graduate programs in their fields of study. Here are just a few of the things the McNair Scholars Program can offer you.

  • Funded summer research experience with $2800 stipend and housing
  • Paid conference travel, graduate school visits, and work-study positions
  • Graduate school application assistance and cost reduction
  • Community of scholars who support your desire to enter graduate school


  1. You are a student at Knox College
  2. You are a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
  3. You are both First Generation and Income Eligible OR from an Underrepresented racial or ethnic group in Higher Education (Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, or Native Pacific Islander)
  4. You have a minimum gpa of 2.75
  5. You are not graduating prior to Fall 2021

Application Information:

Fill out an application at

  • Electronic form with background Information
  • 300 word statement of research interests: Please describe the academic discipline and area you want to research in. What are some possible research topics you would want to dig into further? Why does this research appeal to you? What challenge do you hope to address or what change do you want to see as a result of the research?
  • 300 word goals statement: Your statement should give us an idea of your long term personal and professional goals. Where do you see yourself after graduating from Knox? What do you want to study in graduate school? What career do you see yourself in? How do you think McNair can help in achieving your goals?
  • Writing sample
  • Unofficial transcripts will be retrieved by McNair Staff

The application opens April 1, 2020

Application Deadline is April 30, 2020

Interviews for selected applicants will be in May

  • The interview consists of McNair Staff and a faculty member from the Faculty Advisory Committee (2-4 people)
  • Interviews are usually 30 minutes
  • McNair candidates will be asked to tell the committee more about themselves, their interests, and their future goals. Questions may ask for clarification and more depth for application responses

Want to find out more?  Information sessions will be:

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the McNair Scholars Program?

The purpose of the program is to motivate and prepare Knox College students from groups underrepresented in higher education to pursue post-baccalaureate study and, ultimately, careers as college and university faculty. McNair involves students throughout their college careers in activities designed to prepare, encourage, and support their pursuit of post-baccalaureate degrees. We accomplish this through weekly seminars on research methods and the graduate school application process, having students conduct a self-designed independent research project over a 10 week summer, taking our students to present their research at conferences, sending our scholars on graduate school visits, exposing our scholars to research intensive careers, and through other academic and cultural programming.

Am I a good fit for the McNair Program?

Are you interested in research or curious about a topic that you feel deserves further exploration? Do you have a strong desire to enter graduate school after graduating from Knox? Have you thought about the possibility of becoming a college professor but are unsure how to get there? If you answered yes to any of these questions, McNair may be a good fit for you. McNair is a community of scholars that share your desire to continue your studies after Knox.

What am I committing to if I am admitted to the McNair Scholars Program?

If you are admitted to our program, you still have the option to decline our offer. If you choose to accept our offer, you will participate in the program throughout the rest of your time at Knox. You will be expected to participate in once a week McNair seminars every term, a 10-week summer research project here at Knox, scholarly activities planned by the program, and applications to a minimum of 3 graduate schools senior year.

I am not a U.S. citizen, can I still participate in the McNair program?

No, unfortunately you are not eligible for McNair. However, there are other research opportunities through the Vovis Center available to all students on campus.

I am first in my family to get a college degree and racially underrepresented. Am I still eligible?


I am first in my family to get a college degree, but I am not income eligible or racially underrepresented. Am I eligible?

No. You must be both first generation and low income and/or racially underrepresented to participate.

I am part of the TRIO Achievement Program. Am I automatically eligible?

No. McNair’s eligibility requirements are slightly different than TRIO. You still may be eligible to participate if you are BOTH first generation and income eligible and/or racially underrepresented.

I am currently a junior. Am I eligible to apply?

Only if you are not graduating prior to Fall 2021. If you are graduating in Spring 2021, unfortunately, you are not eligible.

I am currently a sophomore. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, if you are not graduating prior to Fall 2021. We typically recruit first year students at Knox, but we do have an intensive 2 year McNair program for competitive applicants desiring to enroll in graduate studies after Knox.

I will be transferring to Knox College Fall 2020. Am I eligible?

Yes, as long as you are not graduating prior to Fall 2021. If you are transferring, please contact McNair staff at to gain access to our application.

Is McNair only for science and math majors?

No. Our McNair program encourages applicants from all majors to apply.

I am confused about the eligibility requirements.

Please reach out to McNair staff at We would be happy to discuss your eligibility one on one.

I don’t know if I want to go to graduate school.

Many students don’t know, and that’s ok. The McNair Scholars Program is designed to prepare students for graduate level study, but many students don’t know what that will be like until they have participated in our program. This could be your chance to figure that out.

I’m struggling with the research essay in the application. I’ve never done research, so I don’t know what I would do given the opportunity.

That’s ok! Tell us about the subjects, topics, or classes that you have enjoyed so far. What did you like about them? What are you curious to know more about? It might be helpful to talk with your professors or your academic advisor about research that is happening in your field.

I’m struggling with the future goals essay in the application. I’m not sure what I want to do.

No worries! Give us some ideas. Where do you see yourself after Knox? Do you want to work for a non-profit back in your hometown? Are you excited about the idea of traveling to different countries to work on policies? Would you prefer to work outside, with groups of people or with young adults? Try searching for careers in your chosen field of study online or setting up an appointment with career services to see what kind of options are out there.

Knox College

Printed on Wednesday, June 12, 2024