Freshman Students

Our freshman admission decisions are based on a thorough review of your application package.

Important Admissions Criteria

  • ACT or SAT I scores (we do not use SAT II)
  • High school percentile ranking (if your school doesn’t rank, we’ll calculate an estimated rank)
  • Challenging high school curriculum (AP, honors, accelerated, etc.)
  • Grade patterns and trends across 4 years of high school
  • Co-curricular, work, and volunteer involvements
  • Application essays that help us understand how you would benefit from our explorative mission; these may include:
    • Subjects or fields that interest you
    • Academic programs you are considering
    • Career or pre-professional goals
    • Relevant experiences that have influenced your academic and career interests

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Common Questions

Who should apply to DGS?

Students who apply to DGS generally identify with one or more of the following statements:

  • I have multiple interests and talents.
  • I want time to learn more about my options before declaring.
  • I have strong career interests (like health or law) but am undecided about my undergraduate major.
  • I am interested in Nursing(junior-year entry program).

Who gets accepted to DGS?

Freshman admission decisions are based on several factors, including high school grades, class rank, rigor of coursework, ACT or SAT scores, quality of essays, and quality of involvement and leadership experience. We like to see students who embrace the idea of exploration. Essays should clearly address a student’s reasons for choosing to be undeclared.

In 2013, the middle 50% of admitted DGS freshmen had an ACT composite score between 25 and 30. While admission decisions are not based solely on test scores, this provides a guide for students who wish to apply to DGS.

What scholarships are available to DGS students?

DGS students are eligible for all University-wide, admission-based scholarships.

What kinds of courses do DGS students take?

DGS students enroll in the same kinds of courses as students entering Illinois with a declared major. All students at Illinois typically complete the freshman composition requirement, a few courses in a major or area of interest, and several general education courses during their first year. We recommend that students complete 14 to 16 credit hours each semester.

If I am undeclared, does that mean I’m behind?

You’ll work closely with your advisor to design class schedules that meet graduation requirements. Strategically selecting general education and elective courses will allow you to explore multiple areas of interest while staying on track.

DGS students complete degrees in the same amount of time as declared majors. In fact, our 4-year graduation rate is on par with the campus average.

Can undeclared students study abroad?

Just like students in declared majors, undeclared students can and do take coursework abroad while staying on track for graduation. DGS students are encouraged to consider summer, fall, winter, and spring study abroad programs. Each semester, the Study Abroad Office hosts an informational meeting specifically for DGS students.

What if I have no idea what major I would like to pursue?

Your advisor will work with you to identify your interests and abilities and the Illinois majors and minors that are well suited for them. Through personalized advising and a variety of additional resources, you will have an opportunity to more clearly pinpoint academic goals before declaring a major.

Review our exploration process for recommended resources that will help you navigate the DGS experience.

What if I know exactly what major I want to pursue?

Some students join DGS with a clearer idea of the major they would like to declare. Depending on the major, admitted DGS students can declare as early as sophomore year.

In the meantime, our advisors are knowledgeable about all of the programs on campus and will work closely with you to ensure that you are selecting courses and extracurricular opportunities to appropriately position yourself for intercollegiate transfer.

When can I declare a major?

When you feel ready to declare, you may transfer to a major as early as the start of your sophomore year. You have as long as 4 semesters to remain undeclared.

What happens if I don’t get into the major I want?

The majority of our students get into their desired major. However, a small portion of our students may need to select another option. Our advising process involves working with you to identify your particular strengths, interests, and career goals. With that information in mind, our advisors can assist you with determining alternative Illinois majors that meet your needs and desires.

How does the major exploration process work? 

Major exploration can happen in a variety of ways. Whether through the classes you are taking, to the student groups you join, to the volunteer experiences you have, to the conversations you have with upperclass students. More information on how DGS helps students explore major options can be found on our Major Exploration page.

What are the opportunities for Honors programs within DGS? 

The Division of General Studies offers James Scholar Honors for high-ability students os they can develop valuable skills in leadership, reserach, creativity, and service-learning. The top 10% of admitted DGS freshman are invited to participate in the James Scholar program based on academic achievement in high school. All DGS admitted freshmen are automatically considered based on their application for admission. If you maintain your James Scholar status in DGS then you will be a James Scholar student in your declared major. More information about DGS' James Scholar program can be found at http://dgs.illinois.edu/honors.

Are there leadership opportunities within DGS?

Yes! DGS has a student group called DGS Leaders. This group serves several purposes: 

  • Help the DGS Assistant Director for Admissions at admission related events
  • Meet monthly with the DGS Director to provide feedback on DGS services. 
  • Help at DGS events such as the Majors and Minors Fair, Spring Into Action, and Major Exploration Week.

Both current and former DGS students are eligible to participate in the DGS Leaders program. Students have completed at least one full time semester at Illinois and have a 2.5 or better GPA. Applications are accepted in early September each year. 

I am currently in another major on campus but would like to talk about other majors, how to explore my major, or possible transferring to another major. Can I still meet with a DGS Academic Advisor? 

Absolutely! DGS Academic Advisors are happy to meet with any Illinois student regardless of their major. Just call 217-333-4710 to schedule an appointment.

What do I need to know before I come to campus? 

Preparing to come to campus can be an exciting and yet nerve wracking experience. The Office of Admissions has created a helpful Admitted Student Checklist to help you prepare for your summer registration advising appointment and arriving on campus in the fall.

What are some recommended freshman classes? 

This really depends on the major(s) you are interested in exploring. The good news is that you will meet one on one with a DGS Academic Advisor to identify the appropriate courses that you should take in your first semester to help you explore your majors of interest and fulfill general education requirements at the same time.

When are the application deadlines for transferring into each college? When is the best time to transfer into each college? When do I need to decide for certain programs?

Declaring a major once on campus is known as an Intercollegiat Transfer (ICT). The ICT process varies from college to college. Some colleges have a specific application and deadline while other majors have a minimum GPA or coursework that needs to be completed. The good news is that DGS Academic Advisors are knowledgable about the ICT process for all of the majors on campus and can help you navigate the process. For more information about the ICT process for each major, you can visit the Office of the Provost's Changing Major website

I just accepted my offer of admission, what happens next? 

Congratulations and welcome to the Illinois family! Once you accept your offer of admission you should use the Admitted Student Checklist which can be found on your myillini page or on the Office of Admissions website. The Admitted Student Checklist includes information about signing up for Housing, setting up your NETID & Computing information, completing your Financial Aid application, signing up for your Summer Registration appointment, and much much more. 

How can I connect with DGS?

There are several ways to connect with DGS. They include: 

I have more questions. What do I do now?

Check out our Explore Videos to hear from our students and staff about their experiences in DGS. In addition, we’re always available to chat with you. Contact our Admissions Director with questions or concerns.