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Course Descriptions

Boise State McNair Scholars enroll in for-credit McNair Seminars each semester of program participation. The Seminars are taught by program staff and draw upon expertise of faculty and staff across campus.

Seminar curriculum addresses various aspects of research, academic culture, and graduate preparation and ongoing development of skills, knowledge, and dispositions key to graduate admission and later success in a doctoral program. Seminars emphasize instruction and application of reading, writing and other scholarly skills – including library research, academic technology, scholarly dispositions and academic “cultural capital.”

The seminars guide Scholars through the key phases and activities of the program and provide structure for their graduate preparation. Seminars are structured as follows:

YEAR ONE - FALL: McNair Scholars Seminar (3 credits - graded)

year 1 semester 1

This seminar explores advanced issues relating to graduate school preparation and application, the craft of scholarly research, and the structure and processes of academic life. Activities center on scholarly development, graduate program exploration, development of the faculty mentor relationship, and exploration of topics for the upcoming summer research project.

  • Enroll in McNair Scholars Seminar (3 credits – Graded)
  • Begin to explore graduate field of study and programs
  • Explore and select Faculty Mentor
  • Explore and identify topic for upcoming summer research
  • Enroll in research methods and topic-related coursework in major, if applicable
  • Initial academic assessment – Individual Academic Plan (IAP) developed
  • Begin to cultivate “scholarly identity” and develop professional network and relationships
  • Begin graduate school application development

YEAR ONE - SPRING: McNair Research Seminar (3 credits - graded)

spring year 1

This seminar is designed to prepare participants in the McNair Scholars Program for their upcoming summer research projects. The course guides students through the process of developing a research proposal —including formulation of a topic, review of the literature, research design, and writing of the proposal. Students work with instructors and Faculty Mentors in development of the proposal. The seminar emphasizes writing and library research skill development as key features of the research design process. Students begin GRE test preparation.

  • Enroll in McNair Research Seminar (3 credits – Graded)
  • Produce research proposal for Summer Research Plan with Faculty Mentor’s approval (including IRB)
  • Begin regular research preparation and research planning meetings with Faculty Mentor
  • Explore graduate programs and external graduate funding opportunities (i.e. fellowships, assistantships)
  • Relevant research and academic coursework in major
  • Continue development of graduate application components (curriculum vita, statement of academic purpose, etc.)
  • Begin GRE preparation
  • Explore professional associations and plan conference submissions for upcoming year
  • Explore summer research experiences for undergraduates (REUs) at other institutions

SUMMER: McNair Summer Research Seminar (3 Independent Study credits - graded)


This seminar is part of the Summer Research Program and encompassed under the 3-credit Independent Study under the guidance of a Faculty Mentor. The seminar meets one or two times weekly, focusing on research support, and graduate school application development. Fees for the 3-credit Independent Study are waived for Summer Research Program participants. GRE test is scheduled and taken.

  • Enroll in a 3-credit research-related Independent Study course (fees waived)
  • Participate in Summer Research Seminar and meet regularly with Mentor
  • Conduct and complete summer portion of research project under Faculty Mentor guidance – supported by Summer Research Stipend of up to $2800
  • Intensive GRE preparation – complete GRE by early June with McNair fee waiver
  • Continue drafting key grad application documents (CV, statement of purpose)
  • Finalize list of graduate programs of interest (GPI) and make initial faculty contacts
  • Request application packages from GPIs and fellowships
  • Begin writing research paper/McNair Journal article
  • Present at McNair Summer Research Symposium

YEAR TWO - FALL: McNair Scholars Seminar (1 credit – pass/fail)


This seminar centers on issues relating to the graduate school application process and development of the graduate school application package. Topics include: identification of programs and funding sources; development of the application package and supporting documents—the statement of purpose, CVs, letters of recommendation, etc. Secondary seminar topics involve support for McNair Scholars in writing of the research paper and McNair journal article derived from summer research.

  • Enroll in McNair Senior Seminar (1 credit – Pass/Fail)
  • Draft, revise and complete research paper from Summer Research Project
  • Finalize list of graduate programs of interest and funding awards and develop application timeline
  • Continue communication with faculty at GPIs
  • Complete and submit all graduate school applications (utilizing McNair application fee waivers) by given deadlines
  • Develop research paper/poster and submit to professional conferences
  • Plan and begin graduate program visits

YEAR TWO - SPRING: McNair Senior Seminar (1 credit – pass/fail)


A seminar for senior level participants in the McNair Scholars Program who have completed their individual summer research projects. The course examines the production and dissemination of scholarship, focusing on the processes of writing, presentation, and publication of research reports. The core task is the develop a conference presentation based on their McNair summer research project. The seminar also explores advanced topics relating to graduate studies, academic research, and the ongoing graduate application process.

  • Enroll in McNair Senior Seminar (1 credit – Pass /Fail)
  • Complete undergraduate degree requirements and apply for graduation
  • Submit and present research paper at academic conferences
  • Publish paper in the Boise State McNair Scholars Research Journal
  • Continue communication with graduate programs to which applied and plan visits
  • Weigh, negotiate, and accept graduate program and funding offers
  • Attend year-end McNair Recognition Reception
  • Graduate from Boise State and immediately enter a graduate program