|Ronald E. McNair Scholars
Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program
Ronald Ervin McNair was born October 21, 1950 in Lake City, South Carolina. He achieved early success in the segregated public schools as both a student and an athlete. Valedictorian of his high school class, he attended North Carolina A&T State University where, in 1971, he received a B.S degree in physics. He studied physics at MIT where he specialized in quantum electronics and laser technology, completing his Ph.D. in 1977. As a graduate student, he performed some of the earliest work on-chemical lasers, publishing path breaking scientific papers on the subject. McNair was also a physical fitness advocate and pursued athletic training from an early age. He was a leader in track and football at his high school and later earned a black belt in karate. He was also an accomplished jazz saxophonist.
After completing his Ph.D., he began working as a physicist at the Optical Physics Department of Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California. In January 1978, NASA selected him to enter the astronaut cadre, one of the three Black Americans selected. McNair became the second Black American in space between February 3 and 11, 1984 by flying on the Challenger Shuttle mission STS- became the second Black American in space between February 3 and 11, 1984 by flying on the Challenger Shuttle mission STS-41-B. The 1986 Challenger STS-51-L mission on which he was killed was his second Shuttle flight.
In January of 1986, the U.S. Congress provided funding for the McNair Program to encourage students with backgrounds similar to McNair's to enroll in graduate studies. The program targets low-income and first-generation college students. The nationwide program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair's life.
Become a Southern University McNair Scholar
Your academic career does not have to end with a bachelor's degree. Let us help you with your academic pursuits. Submit your application to the Southern University and A&M College Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program.
The SU McNair Program gives traditionally under-represented minorities the support and resources needed to overcome barriers to earning a Ph.D. The program is open to eligible rising college juniors and seniors interested in pursuing doctoral studies.
To qualify you must:
- Have a minimum G.P.A of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
- Be a first generation college student
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Meet financial eligibility criteria
To apply, submit:
- A completed application
- Two letters of recommendation
- A statement of interest
- A completed financial aid form and all supporting documents
- Current college transcripts
Join the ranks of the best and brightest at Southern University by becoming a McNair Scholar. Scholars attend and present at conferences throughout the United States. SU McNair scholars also receive assistance with academic counseling , communication skills, GRE preparation, tutoring, paid summer research opportunities and financial support. Scholars also participate in enrichment seminars, various cultural events and are mentored by a community of talented and committed faculty.
For more information on the Southern University and A&M College Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, contact the McNair Scholar Program Coordinator at
Phone: 225.771.4249 or 225.771.4717