Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

Olga M. Welch

Committee Members

Ed Roeske, Lawrence DeRidder, Esteban Walker, Mark Hector


The Ronald McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program is a federal response to the recent decline in the number of African American doctoral degrees conferred and the general under-representation of minority group members in graduate education. The McNair Program is designed, through enrichment activities, to facilitate doctoral study among first generation, low-income and under-represented students. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville was one of the first 14 programs funded in the United States. Now, sixty-eight McNair Programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

This quantitative case study of 60 participants in the University of Tennessee Ronald McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program during the summers of 1990 and 1991 had four purposes: (1) to describe the University of Tennessee Ronald McNair Program participants, (2) determine what proportion of McNair participants eligible for graduate school enrollment were enrolled in graduate school, (3) compare and contrast eligible students who had gone on to graduate school to those who had not and (4) construct profiles, from multiple variables, of the McNair participant who is likely to go on to graduate school (Group A) and the McNair participant who is not likely to go on to graduate school (Group B). Ten documents and 41 variables were identified and analyzed. Basic descriptive statistics, chi square, Fisher's Exact Test, MANOV A and discriminant analysis procedures were used.

Nearly 70% of the UT McNair participants eligible to apply to graduate school were enrolled in graduate school. First-generation, low-income status was positively associated with graduate school enrollment. The participants were overwhelmingly African American and studying in science and engineering related disciplines where African American students are most under-represented. Those McNair participants who went on to graduate school were found to be significantly different from those who did not. In light of the problem of under-representation of African American and other minority groups in graduate education, the findings suggest that students in the McNair program who are eligible to apply to graduate school do so. Though preliminary, these findings support the contention that enrichment programs do have positive effects.

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