Prospective Students - Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply?
Our application can be found on this website. It should be read, fully completed, and turned in electronically to us. Please be advised that our program application is long and will require a variety of data and information that will require time to locate and complete. You should give yourself plenty of time to complete the forms, get the letters of recommendation, and supply the supplementary information.

How do I access the application portal?
You must be logged onto your UCSB email address to access our application portal. If you are logged onto another email address, the application website will not open.

Do I qualify? 
To qualify for the McNair Scholars Program, you must be either a low-income as defined by the U.S. Department of Education and first generation college student (where neither parent has completed a four-year degree) or a member of group underrepresented in higher education as defined by the U.S. Department of Education  (African-American, Hispanic-Latino, Native American, and Alaskan, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian). 

How do I obtain a copy of my Student Aid Report (SAR) for this application?
To access a copy of your Student Aid Report you must first logon to the FAFSA website as if you were going to fill it out or make a correction. From there you need to click on the relevant application year, which should be the most recent information you've sent to FAFSA. After that, you should have the option to view or print your SAR. You'll want to save it as a PDF form and email it to our office at

I am a graduating senior. Can I still apply?
The program works most effectively with students who are entering their junior year. Under special conditions, seniors may apply and be considered depending on their UCSB graduation date. If you are a graduating senior, contact the Program Director to assess your viability as an applicant.

I don’t have a 3.0. Can I still apply?
We do not recommend applying if your GPA is less than 3.0, which is the minimum to be a competitive applicant to graduate schools.

Can all majors apply?
The McNair Scholars Program is open to students in all majors at UCSB.

Can I apply if I already have a bachelor’s degree?
No. The program is focused only on working with students who are working on their first bachelor's degree.

What if I am not sure I want a Ph.D.?
The McNair Scholars Program is designed for students who intend to earn a PhD only. It is not for students who want to go to a professional school like law school, medical school, pharmacy school, business school, etc.

I am interested in study abroad. Will this affect my application?
Several McNair Scholars have participated in study abroad. This will not affect your application or, if admitted, your status as a McNair Scholar.

When should I expect to hear back after having applied to the program?
Students should hear back within two to four weeks of the application deadline. 

When should I start preparing to apply to graduate school?
At least one year in advance. We encourage all students in our program to begin preparing for the graduate school application process during their junior year.

How will I pay for graduate school?
Many graduate students get comprehensive funding packages, and the McNair staff will prepare you to be competitive for institutional and extramural funding opportunities.

Is this a scholarship?
No, this is a two-year research and graduate school preparation program. The McNair Scholars Program does, however, offer a summer stipend for independent research under the supervision of a faculty mentor, as well as travel funds for academic conferences and graduate school fairs.

How will the stipend affect my financial aid?
The summer stipend may affect your financial aid, depending on the other types of aid you receive (e.g., awards and/or stipends). Please reach out to the McNair Program Director with further questions.

Do I have to attend graduate school at UCSB?
No. McNair Scholars apply to and are accepted by graduate schools nationwide.

Do I need to take the GRE?
Most graduate programs in the U.S. require current GRE scores. The McNair Program offers a free GRE preparation course to help you practice for the exam.

What are some of the things McNair Scholars get for free?
A GRE prep course, travel to conferences and graduate school fairs, academic and professional workshops, a paid research internship, and course credits, among many other benefits.

Is it worth my time?
If you are certain you want to earn a PhD, the program is absolutely worth your time. Among other things, the program provides a stipend of $3,000, all expense paid travel to academic conferences, a one-year academic research internship, funding for independent research supplies and materials, comprehensive academic advising, and opportunities to have research published in the UCSB McNair journal.

Does it matter if I have already done research or been a participant in a research mentorship program?
Research through another program can provide a head start for McNair. It can also provide an opportunity to work with a diverse set of faculty members.

Does McNair Scholars Program require its students to pursue a Ph.D. immediately after obtaining the B.S. or B.A. (and skip the M.S. or M.A. program)?
No. The program expects scholars to apply to both Masters and PhD programs during their senior year as an undergraduate student. Scholars, however, do not have to participate in any graduate program immediately following their completion of their bachelor's degree. The program does, however, expect scholars to obtain a doctoral degree within ten (10) years of attaining their bachelor’s degree.

Are students who are interested in a combined Ph.D. with another professional degree program allowed to apply to the McNair Scholars Program?
Yes. The McNair Scholars Program is specifically designed to assist undergraduates on their entrance to a PhD program. Any other professional endeavor is the sole responsibility of each individual.

I have even more questions. Who should I contact?
Call our office to schedule an appointment with graduate mentors and/or our Program Director, who can provide you with further information about the McNair Scholars Program.