UO McNair Program


Dr. Ronald E. McNair obtained his Ph.D. in lazer physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976, with a dissertation entitled “Energy Absorption and Vibrational Heating in Molecules Following Intense Laser Excitation.” He went on to be selected by NASA for the space shuttle program in 1978. Dr. McNair was the second African American to fly in space. He successfully flew his first mission in February 1984, but was then selected to serve abroad the ill-fated U.S. Challenger space shuttle. After his death in the Challenger accident in 1986, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement program. Their goal was to encourage low-income and first-generation college students, and students from historically underrepresented ethnic groups to expand their educational opportunities by enrolling in a Ph.D. program and ultimately pursue an academic career. This program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair’s life.

Experiences & Benefits

Housed in the Division of Undergraduate Education and Student Success (UESS) and co-located with the Center for Undergraduate Research and Engagement (CURE), the UO McNair Program offers intensive support for students as they complete their undergraduate degrees and apply to graduate schools.

  • Strengthen academic skills for future graduate study
  • Receive in-depth advising regarding future plans
  • Build deeper relationships with university faculty
  • Prepare for and conduct primary academic research
  • Present and publish research projects
  • Receive undergraduate academic funding
  • Receive advising and help with graduate school applications
  • Prepare for graduate entrance exams (GRE, etc.)
  • Explore funding options for graduate school
  • Visit possible graduate programs



  • Writing Research Proposals and Budgets
  • The Culture of Graduate School
  • Presentation and Publication of Academic Research
  • Academic Research Writing


  • GRE Test Preparation
  • Applying to Grad School
  • Writing Personal Statements
  • Finding the Right Fit
  • Effective Use of the Library and Other Research Tools
  • Technology Use