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.

Benefits of being a DGS James Scholar

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 (20 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.

Click here to access the HCLA online form

Spring 2023 deadline to submit: February 24, 2023

New to completing a DGS HCLA?  Click here for a step-by-step guide


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

  • Maintain an Illinois semester and cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 (coursework from other institutions will not apply)
  • Complete at least 12 graded credit hours during the fall and spring semesters.
  • Complete two honors courses or documented honors projects each academic year (1 each semester).
  • 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
  • All DGS admitted Freshmen are evaluated using their unweighted high school GPA and highest composite standardized test score (ACT or SAT).
  • Only credentials on their original Illinois application will be used.
  • For the 2022-2023 academic year, continuing DGS students with a 3.85 cumulative Illinois GPA may self-nominate.
  • All qualified students will receive an invitation from our Honors Director prior to 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.
  • Incoming Transfer students that earned at least a 3.85 at their previous institution will receive an invitation to self-nominate (for their first semester on campus)
  • Any Incoming Transfer student that provides documentation showing membership to their previous institution's academic honors program will also be welcomed into the DGS James Scholar Program 


Transferring your James Scholar Status

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

Each college offers a James Scholar program, but requirements may vary.