James Scholar Honors

DGS offers James Scholar Honors for high-ability students so they can develop valuable skills in leadership, research, creativity, and service-learning.

Current James Scholar Students

There are many benefits to participating in the James Scholar program, including: 

  • Registering early for courses (starting with second semester registration).
  • Access to smaller courses (30 or fewer students) reserved only for James Scholars.
  • Fostering close relationships with faculty that enrich your education and lead to future opportunities.
  • Conducting research projects and work one-on-one with faculty members.
  • Remaining a James Scholar in your new college once you declare your major.
  • Gaining Honors recognition on official transcripts and at graduation.


An Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA) transforms a standard course into an honors course through an agreement between you and your instructor. Previous projects through HCLA have included research papers, literature reviews, classroom presentations, research experiences with faculty members, and participation in the Chemistry REACT Program.

How to Proceed

  • Register for classes normally during your registration time.
  • At the start of the semester, approach your instructors about completing an honors project to fulfill honors credit.
  • Finalize project details with one of your instructors.
  • Submit an online HCLA by the deadline.
  • Once you submit the HCLA, the instructor will either approve the agreement or ask for revisions.
  • You will receive an email notification once the agreement is accepted or denied.

Student deadline to submit: Friday, September 13th

Click Here to Access the Online HCLA Form

At the end of each semester, your progress will be reviewed. To remain an active and certified DGS James Scholar, you must:

  • Maintain a semester and Illinois cumulative GPA of at least 3.5.
  • Complete 2 honors requirements each academic year (1 each semester).
  • Enroll in at least 12 credit hours during the fall and spring semesters.
  • Should a student be found to have committed any infraction of the UIUC Rules of Academic Integrity, they would automatically forfeit their James Scholar membership and privileges.


Becoming a James Scholar Student
  • Based on academic achievement in high school, the top 10% of DGS admitted freshmen are invited to participate.
  • All DGS admitted freshmen are automatically considered based on their application for admission.
  • Continuing DGS students with a 3.8 cumulative Illinois GPA may self-nominate.
  • All qualified students will receive an invitation from our Honors Director at the start of the semester.
  • James Scholar students who inter-collegiate-transfer into DGS from other colleges on campus maintain their honors designation, assuming all requirements were met through their previous college.
  • DGS transfer students with a 3.8 cumulative GPA from their previous institution may self-nominate.
  • Qualified transfer students will receive an invitation from our Honors Director at the start of their first semester.
  • Any transfer student who was a member of an official honors program at their previous institution may submit documentation to be considered as a full James Scholar upon their first semester at Illinois.


Transferring your James Scholar Status

Once you declare your campus major, you will want to familiarize yourself with your new college's requirements.