The McNair Scholars Program is structured so that a summer research/scholarly activity internship follows the first academic year of a scholar's participation in the program. Scholars enter into a mentor relationship with a participating faculty member in their field of study after they have been admitted to the program.
Junior-year participants attend monthly seminars on doctoral study preparedness. Seminars address discipline-specific research methodologies and writing conventions, the mechanics of a literature review, etiquette particular to academia, professional dress, research ethics, and other topics. Throughout their first year, participants work to conceptualize and plan a directed research project. Participants receive guidance on applying to summer research programs. Scholars will receive assistance with application materials including statements of purpose and curriculum vitae. Scholars present their proposals for summer scholarly activity in spring semester.
During the summer, between the junior and senior year, McNair scholars participate in research for an average of ten weeks. McNair scholars receive a stipend for conducting summer research. The stipend allows a scholar to focus exclusively on their work with project supervisors and faculty mentors, implementing research activity proposed by the scholar in their junior year. Scholars have intensive contact with faculty in the laboratory or in the field and meet on a weekly-basis to review their progress and experiences. This summer research project is central to acculturating the McNair Scholars to academic life and scholarly research.
In the second year of the program, students present their summer research project results on campus or at a regional or national conference. They identify and some times visit appropriate graduate schools, prepare for and take the GRE, apply to masters and doctoral programs, and conclude the year with additional preparatory seminars. Senior seminars and individual meetings address: research presentation, scholarly publication, graduate funding (fellowships, assistantships, scholarships), and the rigors of graduate school.