McNair Application

Access the McNair Application. Please read below for requirements, deadline, and processing before completing the application.


  • Iowa State University undergraduate.

  • US citizenship or permanent residency status.
  • Classification as a junior by the fall term of entry to the program.

  • Meet one of the following:

    • Member of a group underrepresented in graduate education:  Black (non-Hispanic), Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaskan Native (Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders may be included in this definition) OR

    • First generation college student who also meets the specified low-income guidelines set by the US Department of Education.

  • Demonstrated potential for graduate school.

  • A strong interest in pursuing a graduate degree immediately after the bachelor’s degree towards the attainment of the Ph.D.


Applications are accepted for fall admission only and open each year on January 1st and close on March 1st or until all open slots are filled.


  • Academic Record. Although McNair does not have a GPA cutoff, your academic performance (ISU transcript) will be evaluated (through the    university student records system) since it will be a factor when you apply to graduate school. 
  • Essay. Two (2) essays are required as a part of the application form. There is a strict limit of 300 words for each essay, so we encourage you to be succinct in answering each bulleted point. 
  • Letters of Recommendation. Two (2) letters are required and one should come from a current ISU professor. By including your recommenders’ names and email addresses on the application form, they will receive an automatic email with an attached fillable recommendation form after you submit your application. It is in your best interest to speak with your recommenders prior to including their names to make sure they are aware of your interest in the program and why you are applying.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records and gives enrolled students the right to view the contents of their application files. It is common practice to ask applicants to sign a voluntary waiver of review rights, which means that you are giving up your rights to see the recommendation written on your behalf. You may refuse to give such a waiver. Before doing so, however, please understand that it is commonly assumed that recommenders will be more candid in their statements about you if they know the recommendation will be kept confidential. The option that you select will be communicated to your recommenders. 

Once your application is submitted, you will not be able to make changes.


Applying to McNair is a two-step process: the application and the interview. Upon receipt of your application and supporting documents, McNair staff will review your file for completeness and you will be contacted if information/documents are missing. 

After the March 1st deadline, all completed applications will be reviewed by the McNair staff to decide who will be invited for an interview.

All admission decisions will be made prior to the end of spring semester. Even if you meet all eligibility requirements, the final admission decision is also based on the number of slots available and other factors.


It is our pleasure to assist you in your application to the McNair Program; however, please read all information carefully. If you have questions that are not addressed, please feel free to contact us at 515-294-2059 or via email at

McNair Application