Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program


The Federal TRIO programs began with the Upward Bound Program, which emerged out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in response to the administration's “War on Poverty”. In 1965, Talent Search, the second outreach program, was created as part of the Higher Education Act. In 1968, Student Support Services, which was originally known as Special Services for Disadvantaged Students, was authorized by the Higher Education Amendments and became the third in a series of educational opportunity programs. By the late 1960's, the term "TRIO" was coined to describe these three federal programs.  The programs were expanded with the additions of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program in 1986, and the Upward Bound Math/Science Program in 1990.

The Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement program is named in honor of Dr. Ronald Erwin McNair, a renowned laser physicist and astronaut. Dr. McNair graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1971 and received his Ph.D. at the age of 26 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. Dr. McNair's life was cut short due to a tragic accident aboard the USS Challenger space shuttle in January 1986.

After his death, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage ethnic minorities, women and other underrepresented groups to pursue graduate school opportunities, specifically doctoral studies. The McNair Program provides direct services to low-income and/or first generation college students designed to help students overcome class, social, and cultural barriers to higher education.


Funded in full by the United States Department of Education, the Morehouse College Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program is a year round graduate school preparatory internship with an eight week summer research component designed to prepare first generation undergraduates demonstrating strong academic potential for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. The program provides research opportunities, faculty mentors, opportunities to publish and/or present research findings, and assistance with the graduate school application process.

The primary goal of the program is to increase the attainment of Ph.D. degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society. The Morehouse College McNair Program encourages participants to enroll in graduate programs and tracks their progress through to the successful completion of advanced degrees. The McNair Program is supported by the Council of Graduate Schools and the Department of Education's Council for Opportunity in Education.


Since 1992, the mission of the Morehouse College McNair Scholars Program has been to help first generation, low-income college students and students underrepresented in graduate education reach their goals of attaining doctoral degrees. The program works with rising juniors and seniors majoring in the STEM and Psychology fields, who have stated interest in furthering their education; and helps them prepare for successful application to and completion of a graduate degree program. This includes GRE preparation, graduate school visits, faculty-mentored independent research, and opportunities to present research findings at numerous national conferences. McNair Scholars learn that their participation in the program is evidence of the investment by the U.S. Department of Education and Morehouse College in the diversification of advanced-degree holders. Our commitment to service, academic excellence and integrity is manifested in the way we select, mentor, support and empower McNair Scholars.  The Program will foster the essential skills and provide the necessary motivation for academic persistence of the McNair Scholars through: opportunities for meaningful undergraduate research, guidance through the graduate school admission process, and academic, professional, and personal development.


Highly motivated, disciplined and hard working individuals, college level rising juniors and seniors, who are:

  • US Citizen or permanent Legal resident of the U.S.
  • First generation college students with demonstrated financial need
  • Historically underrepresented minority at the graduate level
  • Good academic standing (3.0 or higher cum desired)
  • Majoring in Physical, Biological or Psychological Sciences


  • Summer Stipend
  • Research Opportunities with Faculty Mentorship
  • Campus Room & Board during Summer program
  • GRE Preparation
  • GRE Fee Reduction
  • Graduate School Application Waivers from over 200 Graduate Schools
  • Graduate placement assistance
  • Academic, Career & Personal Counseling
  • Involvement in Professional Development Activities

Program Expectations

Students are required to:

  • Contact and confirm the participation of a faculty advisor to support and supervise the research program.
  • Participate in a research experience with faculty mentor. Students are expected to meet and consult with their advisor on a regular basis throughout the term.
  • Attend McNair Summer Courses (Research Methodology, GRE Prep & Professional Development)
  • Submit preliminary assignments and final research paper that should reflect the time spent engaged in research (15-20 pages).

Why Participate in Our Program

The Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program is committed to providing the support and tailored services that enhance our student’s collegiate experience.  We strive to promote an environment designed to give our participants the support, tools, and worldly experiences to succeed as highly competitive scholars and leaders by addressing their academic and personal needs in an effort to improve their chances for success at the graduate level.

The McNair program is focused on preparing our participants for successful graduate study through exposure to graduate level work and research experiences geared towards improving their critical thinking skills.  The McNair experience fosters an increase of knowledge and familiarity with the ins and outs of graduate study and the graduate school application process as well as the essential elements of research.

We are confident that our support and guidance combined with the participant’s abiding drive and determination will ensure that each student will reach a level of academic, personal and professional success that is without comparison.

McNair Scholars:

  • Conduct Research
  • Prepare extensively for graduate study
  • Work closely with Division of Science & Mathematics Faculty
  • Develop Leadership Skills
  • Are eligible for Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honor Society
  • Attend Professional Conferences
  • Visit Potential Graduate Schools
  • Have opportunities to Publish in Peer-Reviewed Journals


Rubye J. Byrd, Ph.D
Federal TRiO Director
(404) 215-2671

Brock Mayers
Associate Director
(404) 653–7833

Munichia McCalla-Bull
Program Counselor
(404) 653-7837

Duane Jackson, Ph.D
Research Coordinator
(404) 681-2800 x2284

My GRE Prep

Authors: Joshua Posey & Khabir Muhammad
The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for many graduate schools in the United States. For underrepresented minority students who want to pursue graduate study in computing, the GRE can serve as a barrier for gaining admission. MyGREPrep is a GRE preparation website application that teaches GRE content using culturally relevant cues and themes. Users of the systems watch videos of other underrepresented minorities working through sample test problems explained using themes of interest to the user. The premise is that students will become more interested in preparing for the GRE, which will ultimately yield in higher scores on the exam and more acceptances into graduate computing programs.

Recruiting Students Of Color Through Developing Online Graduate Student Panels

Authors: Joshua Posey, Jamal Thorne and Austin Tucker
Due to an increase in the population size of underrepresented minorities (URMs) and a critical shortage of U.S. citizens who are entering into academic majors involving Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), it is critical for the United States to create a "pipeline" for undergraduate minorities to increase their presence in STEM disciplines. Graduate school panels are frequently used to disseminate information to students regarding post-baccalaureate STEM education. This research is an attempt to virtualize audience-specific graduate school panels through an online multimedia application. The CRCL hypothesized that URM undergraduates with access to the application would be more encouraged to pursue graduate studies in STEM disciplines and that URM graduate students would benefit from peer support via the application, increasing their likelihood of obtaining a graduate STEM degree.

Comparative Review Of The ECA And SMS Recycling Tools

Authors: John Angel
Relational Agents are "computational artifacts designed to build long-term, social- emotional, relationships with their users." They are able to build relationships with their users that increases the user's enjoyment of the application. The disadvantage of this technology is that when the relational agent appears unrealistic, some users will find it challenging to build a relationship with the agent. In addition, due to software limitations on today's smartphones, relational agents may not be able to load on a mobile device. Short Message Service, or SMS, is a method through which six billion messages are sent from person-to-person through mobile phones every day making SMS an alternative interface to which many individuals will have mobile access. Using the Twilio API, an interface was developed with the same conversational functionality as Relational Agents. This paper investigates the potential of SMS interfaces as an alternative to interfaces using an Embodied Conversational Agent in specific scenarios.

Development Of An Embodied Conversational Agent For Recycling Nontraditional Items

Authors: Warren Wilkerson and John Porter, III. 
Recycling is key component to sustainability due to its reduction of overall use of limited materials. Some of the most popular materials that can be recycled are paper, glass, plastic, metal, and compostables. However, there are other items that are atypical that people do not know can be recycled. In this study, we constructed an embodied conversational agent (ECA) to inform users on how to recycle these items. The ECA also informs users of how these common and uncommon items are to be prepared for recycling and where they can be recycled in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area. A pilot study was designed to collect initial feedback on the effectiveness and user satisfaction of the ECA. We hypothesize that this ECA will be just as effective and have a higher user satisfaction than other electronic resources.

Creation Of A Donation Drop Box Locator Application Using Google Maps API

Authors: Keythe Gentry and John Porter, III
This research highlights the construction of an online interactive map tool that can display donation drop box locations and give an assessment to the credibility of the company that owns the box. All donation drop boxes are not linked to non-profit charities such as those owned by Goodwill and the Salvation Army. For-profit companies such as USAgain have their own donation drop boxes; however, since the IRS does not recognize these organizations as charitable organizations, they are not required to spend a majority of the profit gained from their donation drop boxes on charitable programs. This website will allow users to distinguish between for-profit and not-for-profit donation drop boxes.

Interactive Storytelling Agents For Graduate School Mentoring

Authors: Marvin Turner, Jonathan Johnson and Akin Oladele
Information from the CRA Taulbee survey, and two reports from the National Research Council identify an alarming disparity among underrepresented minorities in Science and Engineering (S&E) fields, more particularly computer science. When compared to results from the 2010 Census, it is shown that African Americans and other groups are severely underrepresented in computing fields in juxtaposition to their share of the general population. 
To solve this problem, the CRCL looked into a variety of information sharing methods and decided to take a storytelling approach. The CRCL proceeded to develop a virtual storytelling agent to serve as an interactive mentor to students interested in attending graduate school, educating them on the benefits of applying to graduate school. After interacting with this mentor, users were then asked to complete a short survey that was used to evaluate its effectiveness.