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The Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, a part of the Carolina Higher Education Opportunity Programs (CHEOP) Office, provides eligible students at Carolina with the necessary programming and mentorship to be successful in pursuing a Ph.D. Program*. Scholars of the Program receive a variety of benefits and services to help them in their applications to graduate programs across the nation in any academic discipline. Learn more about the Carolina McNair experience here.

Please review our application instructions below and contact us at with any questions you may have.

Eligibility Requirements:
To be eligible, McNair Scholars must be

  • first-generation AND low-income
    • The Federal Guidelines define the term “first generation college student” as
      • an individual both of whose parents did not complete a baccalaureate degree; or
      • in the case of any individual who regularly resided with and received support from only one parent, an individual whose only such parent did not complete a baccalaureate degree.
    • Department of Education Low-Income Guidelines


  • a member of a group traditionally underrepresented in graduate education (African-American, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander).

In addition, McNair Scholars must also:

  • Have an interest in earning a Ph.D. (We are unable to accept M.D., J.D., joint M.D.-Ph.D. or other Professional School focused applicants)
  • Have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA*
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student at UNC-Chapel Hill and a rising junior or senior
  • Be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident

*If your GPA is slightly lower than a 3.0, you may apply but must provide a statement as to what caused your grades to fall and what you have done to ensure continued progress and improvement.

Rolling Admission

Download the Instructions and Application. You may upload your completed application through our web site here, or mail/hand deliver it to our office. Once completed and submitted, please submit the following Supplemental Materials:

  • Upload Application
  • Upload Resume
  • Upload Writing Sample (at least a 2-page paper written in the past year that provides us a sample of your writing abilities)
  • Request Faculty and Character Recommendation (Faculty Recommendation Forms must be from a professor who has taught you at the collegiate level; Character Recommendation Forms must come from a professional who has worked closely with you.)
  • A signed copy of parent’s 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ Income Tax Return for the most recent year (or yours if you are independent) – you may upload this through our web site here.
  • A copy of your unofficial transcript – you may upload this through our web site here.
  • A photo of yourself so we can get to know you – you may upload this through our web site here.

Please Note:  Applications will be reviewed on a rolling-admission basis.  Therefore, the sooner you submit a completed application, the earlier you will hear from the Admissions Committee regarding your admissions status.  Finalists will be contacted to interview.

Nominate a Student to become a McNair Scholar!
*What is a Ph.D.?

For additional questions, please call our office at 919-962-1281 or email