Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program

The University of Wisconsin – Madison Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program (McNair Scholars Program) is an academic excellence opportunity for undergraduate students with aspiration and strong academic potential for advancing toward doctoral (Ph.D.) study upon completing the bachelor’s degree. The program creates a bridge between undergraduate and graduate education through academic, research, and scholarly experiences. Students selected for the McNair Scholars Program join a supportive community of peers, faculty, staff, and alumni. The McNair Scholars Program is housed in the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement (DDEEA)

Additional Opportunity for Fall 2021: This year, we are happy to announce the McNair-CHM Scholars Program. This dual program between The DDEEA/McNair Scholars Program and the Center for Healthy Minds (CHM). The CHM’s mission is to cultivate well-being and relieve suffering through a scientific understanding of the mind. The Center draws from an understanding of neural and psychological processes, ancient wisdom and contemplative practice to understand the mind in four areas of focus—Mind, Brain, and Emotion; Well-being in Adults; Well-being in Infants and Children; and Learning Well-being. ALL MAJORS ARE WELCOME TO APPLY!

Eligibility: UW Madison undergraduate students must meet either criterion (1) OR (2). All students must meet criteria (3) and (4).
1) First-generation college student as well as a low-income student
2) Member of traditionally underrepresented groups* in graduate education: African American, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian (*according to federal guidelines, Asian American, including Southeast Asian American are eligible under criterion 1).
3) A minimum cumulative Grade Point Average of 2.9 and 45 earned college credits.
4) US citizen or permanent resident.

*Preference will be given to applicants who meet criteria #1 and can participate in the program for a minimum of 12 full months (full academic year, including the summer before graduation). However, all eligible students are strongly encouraged to apply.


The McNair Staff are hosting two virtual informational session for interested students:
1. Wednesday, September 22nd at 10 AM CT
2. Monday, October 4th at 4 PM CT
Zoom Link:

Application Checklist (Due October 17th, 2021)

Submitted through WiSH Portal:

  • Completed Application
  • Two (2) Letters of Recommendation (at least one letter must be from a Professor)
  • Personal Statement: Please provide a personal statement (no more than 1000 words). Please consider these guidelines as you are writing this statement:
    1. Why do you want to pursue a Ph.D.?
    2. What are your short and long term career goals?
    3. How can the McNair Scholars Program assist you in attaining those goals?
    4. Describe a personal example that shows your persistence and commitment to academic endeavors.
    5. What specific research area interests you the most? Discuss any current research or a possible research topic and mentor/professor with whom you would like to work.
    6. McNair-CHM Applicants ONLY: If not addressed above, how do your research interests specifically align with the current mission of the CHM? Please, discuss any current or possible research topic(s) and which CHM-affiliated faculty or scientist(s) with whom you would like to work.

Note, we will require all interviewees to submit the following documentation (Both 1 and 2) to the McNair Staff following their interview.
1. First-Generation College Status Form (Found Here)
2. Low-Income Status Documentation: Please submit either A or B of the following:
(A) A signed copy of your 2019 federal tax returns (if you are claimed as a dependent, submit the tax return of your parent/guardian who claimed you). Please make sure your document includes the following (This is usually 1-2 pages long.):
a. Adjusted gross income
b. Taxable income
c. Signature or disclaimer about an electronic signature
(B) A signed Verification of Income Form (Dependent and Independent Forms are Here)
Note: DO NOT EMAIL FINANCIAL INFORMATION!! We will only accept hard copies of your financial documents.

For more information about the program, please visit the McNair Scholars Program website at or through email at

Up to $2,800
Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program
Supplemental Questions
  1. What is the highest level of education completed by your mother (parent 1) or guardian?
  2. What is the highest level of education completed by your father (parent 2) or guardian?
  3. Based on my parents'/guardians' 2020 federal income tax returns, I am a low-income student according to the *taxable income* levels listed here. *Note: you must specify the "Taxable income" (Line 15 of the 1040 form).
  4. Financial Information
    • Are you considered a dependent or independent student?
    • Are you receiving financial aid?
  5. If dependent student, please answer these questions to the best of your ability. If independent, please enter n/a to each of the questions.
    • 1. On whose taxes were you claimed last year?
    • 2. What was their taxable income?
    • 3. How many exemptions did they claim?
    • 4. What is the size of your household?
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