James Scholar Program Overview

The James Scholar honors program is among the most prestigious honors that an undergraduate can earn at the University of Illinois. All AHS students are encouraged to explore this program and, if eligible, consider participating. Program participants receive several benefits, including:

  • Priority registration times. As a James Scholar you can register before the general student population does!
  • Opportunities to engage academic material differently with more direct interaction with faculty. Enrich your education or develop experiences that will make your resume or application for graduate school stand out from the rest!
  • Enhanced relationships with faculty. In AHS we believe it is our personal touch that distinguishes us from other academic units on campus. These strengthened relationships result in better learning experiences in the classroom and only strengthen the ability of our faculty to recognize and recommend your talent.
  • Receive honors recognition on their final transcripts and at the AHS convocation graduation ceremony. At the AHS convocation (graduation) ceremonies, James Scholars will wear special regalia, and are given special recognition.

Program Requirements & Eligibility

Current James Scholars

To continue participating in the program, you will need to:

  • Obtain an HCLA form from room 219 Huff Hall.
  • Identify one of your current instructors who is willing to help you identify/sponsor your honors project. Remember, the course must be at least a 2 credit hour course and must be taken for a grade (C/NC is not allowed). This does not need to be a course in AHS.
  • Complete the HCLA form and return it to 219 Huff Hall before the 4th Friday of the semester.
  • Be sure to work with your professor to complete the honors project so they can enter the honors designation with your final grade.

Important facts:

  • You must maintain a 3.5 cumulative Illinois GPA average (evaluated at the end of the Spring term)
  • You must maintain a 3.5 yearly Illinois GPA (evaluated at the end of the Spring)
  • You must complete at least 14 graded hours each semester (Fall/Spring).
  • You must complete an honors project each semester (Fall/Spring) you participate in the program. If necessary, students can opt to complete two honors projects in one term. Students who will be studying abroad or completing an internship may find this a necessity.

Potential James Scholar Students

Sophomores & Juniors

If you are a Sophomore or Junior and are not currently participating in the program, you are encouraged to consider nominating yourself at the beginning of any academic semester. Below are the basic requirements:

  • You must currently have a 3.5 cumulative Illinois GPA average.
  • You must complete 14 graded credit hours this semester.
  • You must complete an honors project this semester. See the HCLA process outlined for current James Scholars above.
  • You must finish this semester with a 3.5 semester GPA
  • The instructor must award a final grade (B- minimum) with "honors" designation.

Sophomores or Juniors who comply with the requirements above will be given the James Scholar attribute at the end of the term. As a James Scholar you must adhere to the program requirements outlined for current James Scholars above. If you have questions about this, please contact your Academic Advisor and they will be glad to assist you.

Freshmen

Who is eligible?
Eligible incoming freshmen were invited to participate in the James Scholar program as a part of the admission process. Eligibility was determined after a review of individual high school GPA and ACT scores. Freshmen who earn a 3.5 GPA in their Fall classes are encouraged to consider nominating themselves for the Spring term. If you adhere to the eligibity requirements (see below), you will begin the next academic year as a James Scholars!

What are the eligibility requirements for Freshmen?

  • You must maintain a 3.5 cumulative Illinois GPA average (evaluated at the end of the Spring term)
  • You must maintain a 3.5 yearly Illinois GPA (evaluated at the end of the Spring)
  • You must complete at least 14 graded hours each semester (Fall/Spring).
  • You must complete an honors project each semester (Fall/Spring) you participate in the program. If necessary, students can opt to complete two honors projects in one term. Completion of AHS 125 counts as one honors requirement!
  • Invited freshmen should complete AHS 125 -- Freshmen Scholars Seminar -- preferably in the Fall semester.
  • Freshmen who earn a 3.5 in the Fall term should enroll in AHS 125 for the Spring term. If you cannot, contact your academic advisor to learn about options that may be available to you.

What do you have to do?
Most information about James Scholar should be presented in your Orientation class in the Fall. Important first steps include:

  • Obtain an HCLA form from room 219 Huff Hall.
  • Identify one of your current instructors who is willing to help you identify/sponsor your honors project. Remember, the course must be at least a 2 credit hour course and must be taken for a grade (C/NC is not allowed). This does not need to be a course in AHS. Honors credit simply means that you and the instructor of that course identify an additional project -- something that enhances your understanding/appreciation of the class material -- to complete while you are registered for the course. We give a wide berth to faculty members in this process, but in general the project should represent a significant investment of your time and challenge you to learn in different ways.
  • Complete the HCLA form and return it to 219 Huff Hall before the 4th Friday of the semester.
  • Be sure to work with your professor to complete the honors project so they can enter the honors designation with your final grade.

Still have questions about the program? Feel free to email your Academic Advisor or e-mail Associate Dean Gower (gower@illinois.edu) and we will be glad to help!