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McNair Scholars Program

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Since 2003, the Westminster University McNair Scholars Program has served low-income, first-generation, and students underrepresented in graduate education on their path to graduate school under the guidance and funding of the U.S. Department of Education. The McNair Program contributes to the institution’s purpose to prepare students to lead lives of learning, accomplishment, and service by offering a distinctive academic program in which students pursue excellence while promoting inclusiveness and respect for difference. To achieve this end, the McNair Program: encourages low-income and first-generation scholars to complete their programs of postsecondary education; celebrates and cultivates the strengths students bring as diverse scholars; supports the development of their academic talents and interests through faculty-mentored research that encourages students to critically examine alternatives and to accept responsibility for their learning; and provides access to graduate school financial and admissions assistance, as well as related support services. Regardless of learning style or background, participants are empowered to realize their goals of doctoral study in the field of their choice at the institution of their choice.

As the only McNair Program in Utah, we draw students from 3 campuses: Westminster University, Salt Lake Community College, and College of Southern Idaho. By encouraging and supporting qualified students through undergraduate school and the transition to graduate school, the ultimate goal is to increase faculty diversity in colleges and universities.

Of the 169 graduates who have gone through the Westminster University McNair Scholars Program, 72% (122) of students have an advanced degree or are currently in graduate school; 42% (71) have masters degrees; 5.9% (10) have professional degrees; and 12% (21) have PhDs.


All scholars must:

  • Be a sophomore, junior, or senior who will graduate in Spring 2025 or later;
  • Have a minimum 3.0 GPA OR significant academic progress in the last 30 credit hours or in your major;
  • Be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident; and
  • Have a sincere desire to pursue graduate education.

They must also qualify as:

  • Both first-generation (neither parent has a bachelor’s degree) and low-income


  • A member of a group underrepresented in graduate education (Native American, Hispanic/Latinx, African American or Pacific Islander).

Program Benefits

  • Be eligible to receive a $2,800 stipend for the summer research project.
  • Establish a relationship with a faculty mentor for ongoing academic advising and assistance developing an academic plan.
  • Establish a relationship with a research mentor for guidance through the research project and an introduction to your academic discipline.
  • Receive support services including academic seminars, individual surveys and assessments, tutoring services as needed, GRE preparation.
  • Opportunities to visit graduate school programs.**
  • Opportunities to attend local, regional, and national conferences to present research.**
  • Receive financial education and counseling including individual financial counseling services, a money management seminar, and a seminar on graduate and doctoral program funding alternatives.
  • Receive personal support services including individualized technology/computer/library assistance, career counseling, academic career planning, and a peer support system.
  • Receive assistance applying to graduate schools.
  • Receive assistance applying for financial aid.
  • Application fee waivers from participating graduate schools.
  • Be eligible for GRE test fee waivers.
  • Free summer tuition at Westminster University for required McNair courses.
  • Eligible Westminster McNair Scholars may also receive financial aid packages totaling 100% of tuition.***

** Travel funds are contingent upon program participation and are granted at the discretion of the director.

*** Funds are distributed at the discretion of the Financial Aid office. The McNair Program has no control of these funds.

Visit our website to apply. Our applications are due on March 31 every year. Here’s the application checklist to help you plan your application.


All McNair scholars enroll in the McNair Scholars Seminar (MCNR 200) course each semester. In the spring semester, juniors take Writing for Professional Research (MCNR 301) and Introduction to Research Methods I (MCNR 311); seniors take Advanced Research I (MCNR 411). In the summer, juniors takeIntroduction to Research Methods II (MCNR 312), while seniors take Advanced Research Methods II (MCNR 412) during the Summer Research Program.