McNair Scholars

Application Essays


The 2023 McNair application written component consists of 4 short answer questions and a 1-page personal statement essay. The short answer questions should be between 3 and 6 sentences and be a direct response to the prompt. These questions will be typed or copied directly into the text boxes on the electronic application form. To make filling out the form more manageable, we recommend writing them in a Word or Google doc and then using the copy/paste functions.  The 1-page personal statement essay should be well-written and answer the prompt about your educational journey. We recommend that you have your paper edited and use one of the UW Writing Centers, either at Odegaard or the Instructional Center. This essay should be written in Word or Google Docs and saved as a pdf before uploading it to the McNair Application Form.

Short answer Prompts:

(1) Research Interest Prompt

Tell us about your research interests. In 3-6 sentences, describe what you would like to study and why. This can be during your undergraduate, graduate, or professional career.

For example:

  • What impact do you want to make through your involvement in research?
  • Is there a specific social, environmental, or health problem you would like to address?
  • Or is there an academic area that you are incredibly passionate about?

(2) Graduate School Interest Prompt

Tell us about your graduate school interests. In 3-6 sentences, tell us about the type(s) of graduate programs (i.e., Ph.D., Master’s, etc.) you might be interested in and why.

For example:

  • What are your educational and career aspirations?
  • How would graduate school support you in achieving these goals?
  • If you have specific programs in mind, please tell us about those as well.

(3) McNair Program Impact Prompt

In 3-6 sentences, tell us what you hope to learn and achieve by participating in the TRIO McNair Program. 

(4) Community Engagement Prompt

In 3-6 sentences, tell us how you engage with and within your communities through extra-curricular activities, work, or volunteering.

Community is defined broadly and can be a student organization, religious group, or family, among other things. If applicable, include how community engagement connects with or influences your research and graduate school goals.

Similarly, we consider engagement broadly. Depending upon the context, this may include work, volunteering, or participating in family activities and family obligations.

Personal Statement Essay Prompt

Describe your personal, educational journey. We want to hear your story and what shapes your interests and motivates you to pursue your goals.

For example:

  • What are your current and future educational and research interests?
  • What factors influenced the development of these interests? These can be things that happened inside the classroom or outside of it.
  • If applicable, what is your family’s educational background, and how has that influenced your educational journey?
  • What is your academic plan (major(s), minor(s), etc.), and how does this plan of study connect to your educational and research interests?
  • What is your projected timeline for completing your degree and attending graduate school?
  • What do you enjoy about your current academic work, and what do you hope to learn and achieve from your fields of interest?
  • Finally, include information about your academic successes and challenges.

This Essay should be 1-page maximum, single-spaced, 12pt font Times New Roman, 1″ margins. Upload a PDF copy of your essay.