WSU Receives Grant to Prepare Low-Income Students for Doctoral Study

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University will help an estimated 20 undergraduate
students each year prepare for advanced graduate education, thanks to a new five-year McNair
Program grant totaling $950,000 from the U.S. Department of Education.
“This grant focuses on the preparation of selected undergraduate students for doctoral
study,” said Steve Burkett, assistant dean of the WSU Graduate School and project director.
“The program is designed to reach low-income, first-generation college students and
underrepresented students who often do not get directed toward graduate study as more
mainstream students do.”
The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program funding, at $190,000 per
year starting Oct. 1, will allow WSU to offer students research and scholarship opportunities,
seminars, internships, tutoring and academic counseling to prepare for work toward doctoral
degrees in their field of interest.
“The students will be directed to faculty mentors with an emphasis on gaining research
experience that they can carry into their graduate studies. They will also be involved in a number
of activities designed to prepare them for other work they will do as graduate students,” Burkett
“WSU and the Graduate School are committed to expanding opportunities for graduate
study at our campuses,” Karen DePauw, Graduate School dean, said. “This new funding will help
us prepare a greater number of undergraduate students for graduate study.”
The participants must be currently enrolled students at an institution of higher education.
Eligible students include:
–Low-income students who are first-generation college students in their families.
— Members of a group underrepresented in graduate education.
–Members of a group underrepresented in selected academic programs.
“WSU has several currently enrolled graduate students who were McNair scholars from
other universities,” Burkett said. “It is our hope to contribute in significant ways to increasing
the numbers of these students enrolled in graduate programs nationally in future years.”
He added that the McNair program is part of a larger national effort to encourage graduate
study, with some 100 programs of this type in existence. To become part of this network should
go a long way toward increasing WSU’s national visibility and should help the university obtain
added funding of this type in the future.
The program was named for Ronald E. McNair, the African American astronaut who died in
the Challenger shuttle explosion. McNair attended North Carolina A&T University, and
eventually received his doctorate in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.