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Honors Programs

James Scholar Honors is the college-level honors program which allows you to get extra experiences and make yourself standout on the job market. James Scholars also get priority registration for classes, have the opportunity to take honors-only classes, and have a special distinction when they graduate.

How it works:

Requirements and Applying

Freshman Requirements

Freshman requirements apply to all first year students, regardless of advanced academic standing due, for instance, to AP or IB credits. These requirements do not apply to transfer students. You must complete an Honors Activity during your freshman year. Many students complete this during their second semester. Options for this activity include:

  • Completion of an honors section of any course. Such sections are designated as such in the course description or have "Honors" in the title. (i.e. Honors Project or Honors Seminar)
  • Completion of a course with an Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA) It represents an agreement between you and your instructor regarding the additional work to be done in a course in order to receive honors credit. This can be done for any course and with instructor approval. You will receive honors credit for the course.

Any course or activity that involves effort beyond normal academic requirements may be considered as an honors experience, upon review and approval by the Engineering Undergraduate Programs Office. Submit requests to 206 Engineering Hall.

Sophomore, Junior, & Senior Requirements

Students who have achieved a minimum cumulative University of Illinois GPA of 3.50, are eligible to apply to be an Engineering James Scholar. Applications are accepted only during the first ten days of classes in the fall and spring semesters. Apply online through the student portal.

Sophomores must: (1) meet with their departmental James Scholar adviser to discuss, create, and complete an honors contract; and (2) take one honors course, or complete an Honors Credit Learning Agreement for a regular course, or complete at least one course in your honors contract if the contract has already been filed.

Juniors and seniors must take at least one course per year from your honors contract, and submit a detailed Semester Plan each and every semester through the final undergraduate semester.

If the honors contract is not completed upon graduation all previous certifications for the upper class James Scholar program will be removed. If the honors contract is completed early: In any subsequent academic year (not calendar year), the student must complete a course for an honors grade in order to be certified and receive the James Scholar mention on the transcripts for that year.

Electrical or Computer Engineering Special Requirements

Along with a minimum 3.5 GPA, the ECE department requires sophomores, juniors, and seniors must take ECE 200 in either the fall or spring semester of each year. Learn more. 

Computer Science Special Requirements

Students in the Department of Computer Science must also fulfill the following requirements:

Successfully complete two additional CS courses at the 400-level beyond those required for graduation.

CS 499 Senior Thesis (Students may not substitute the Software Engineering or Senior Project sequence for this honors contract requirement. However, courses from the Software Engineering sequence and/or the Senior Project sequence may be used to satisfy the "additional" courses of requirement 1. above). If 1 and 2 above don't add up to 12 hours, you must take an additional course, subject to approval by the honors advisor

OR a student may use a minor to satisfy the James Scholars Upperclass Honors Contract, which must be approved by the CS James Scholars honors advisor. Most, but not all, minors are acceptable (for example, the Math minor would not be permitted).

Annual James Scholar Certification

James Scholar reviews take place in the summer. If your GPA dips below 3.5 after the fall semester, there may still be time to make up for the GPA deficiency in the spring semester, and remain a James Scholar. Summer courses cannot be used to make up for a GPA deficiency in the preceding academic year. However, if a student is able to regain the 3.5 GPA minimum after the summer, the student may apply in the first ten days of classes of the fall semester to be reinstated as an Engineering James Scholar. Only grades obtained at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign can be counted for the honors GPA requirement.

Students who maintain the prescribed GPA at the end of the spring semester and have completed the necessary honors requirements for the academic year, will be certified and their accomplishment be noted on their transcripts for the full year.

Students who maintain the prescribed GPA but do not complete remaining James Scholars honors requirements will not receive certification.

Apply To Be a James Scholar

Students interested in applying to be an Engineering James Scholar must meet the minimum 3.5 GPA requirements and meet with a departmental honors adviser to discuss and design an honors contract that can be successfully completed while simultaneously allowing the student to fulfill the graduation requirements of their undergraduate program. The honors contract can be modified at any time as long as the changes are approved by the student’s departmental honors adviser and the College of Engineering James Scholar Adviser.

Transfer students may apply to be an Engineering James Scholar after at least one semester on campus if the student’s Illinois GPA meets the minimum 3.5 requirement. Grades in transfer courses will not be considered for James Scholar status; only courses taken at Illinois are accepted for James Scholars recognition. Study abroad, co-op, and internship activities are not recognized as James Scholars activities.

Applications to become a member of the prestigious the Engineering James Scholar Program can be submitted online in the first ten days of classes of the fall and spring semesters.

NOTE: Only grades obtained at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign can be counted for the honors GPA requirement.

Contact: Engineering James Scholars