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Becoming a Research Mentor

Becoming a Research Mentor to a McNair Scholar

Thank you for your interest in becoming a faculty mentor in the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program (McNair Scholars Program) at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (UWO).

McNair Scholars Program is a highly prestigious, federally funded TRiO program, with the primary mission of assisting high-achieving, first-generation, low-income students and/or minorities, traditionally underrepresented in higher education, acquire the skills needed to get into and succeed in graduate school. To learn more about eligibility, visit the Eligibility Requirements page, or click here. In addition to completing a research project with their mentor, McNair scholars receive help preparing for the GRE, understanding the graduate application process and the opportunity to present their research at a national conference. While the ultimate goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to encourage participants to pursue a doctorate, all participants are expected to endeavor to complete a master’s program.

The McNair Scholars Program encourages eligible candidates to apply the fall of their sophomore year so long as they will have earned 60 hours by the end of the spring semester. Scholars entering as rising juniors will have a clear advantage as they potentially have the opportunity to engage in two summers of research, one here at the UWO, the second either here or at another institution. However, scholars entering as rising seniors also benefit greatly from the program, albeit in a more accelerated atmosphere.

There are different ways to become a faculty mentor. If you have an eligible student who has shown a strong interest in doing research with you, please encourage them to apply to McNair. Once admitted to the program, the student will be given the option to select you as a mentor, providing you are available and your research interests align with the graduate school goals of the scholar. Occasionally, we admit a student to the program who has yet to find the ideal mentor. In such cases, the McNair director may reach out to you on behalf of the scholar.

As a McNair mentor, you will be asked to begin working with your scholar at least once a month during the semester and once a week between June and July or until the scholar’s project is finished. Methods and research design will differ in accord with the discipline and nature of research being conducted. However, it is recommended that mentors follow this general outline:

 Spring Semester

1. Meet at least once a month with scholar, keeping track of time and effort.

2. Get to know scholar: Research and graduate school interests.

3. Begin discussing possible research questions. The research question and design must be such than it can be completed during an intensive eight-week period in June and July.

4. Require student to create an annotated bibliography in preparation for the literature review.

Spring Interim

1. Scholar submits a 3-5 page proposal (containing research question, hypothesis, research design, literature review, and timeline). Approve.


1. Scholars are expected to treat their McNair research obligations as a full-time job.

2. Meet with scholar at least once a week, keeping track of time and effort. These meetings should be in person whenever possible.

3. Read and provide written feedback to rough draft. Approve.

3. Attend scholar’s power point presentation on findings (mid-July)

4. Read and provide written feedback to final paper due July 31. Approve.

Additional Commitments

1. Provide scholar with guidance on poster due August 31. Approve.

2. Recommend graduate programs to which scholar should apply.

3. Write recommendations for scholar when earned.

4. Attend the McNair Scholars Showcase at the end of September.

5. Encourage scholar to submit abstract to professional conferences.


The McNair staff welcomes your questions, suggestions and comments!

Cordelia Bowlus, Program Director

Halsey 319


Corina Van Duser, Program Assistant

Halsey 320


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