There are several programs available to students who want to participate and be acknowledged with honors during their time earning a degree. Browse the options below and contact your advisor if you want to learn more.
- Campus Honors Program
- Dean’s List
- Honors at Graduation
- Bronze Tablet
- James Scholar Honors Program (FAA)
Approximately 125 Illinois students are selected for this challenging program each year. Through small and stimulating courses, a mentoring system, and informal seminars and lectures, undergraduates dive into the rigors of academic disciplines and interact with noted scholars. Get the details on this opportunity for talented and gifted students from the Campus Honors Program.
For this honor given each semester, you must complete at least 12 academic hours taken for a letter grade. The minimum GPA establishing eligibility for the FAA Dean’s List in 2023–24 is 3.93. Students who are named to the Dean’s List will receive notification via email and the option to acquire a printed certificate.
The specific grade point average for the Dean’s List is set by each college and may vary. See section 3-401 of the Student Code for more information.
Eligibility for honors at graduation is calculated after grades are recorded following your final semester. You need a minimum of 60 credit hours at the Urbana-Champaign campus and the minimum GPA in all course work presented for graduation.
- Honors: cumulative GPA of 3.65
- High honors: cumulative GPA of 3.75
- Highest honors: cumulative GPA of 3.90
To qualify, you must have a 3.5 cumulative GPA for courses taken at the University of Illinois and rank in the top 3 percent of the graduating class. See section 3-404 of the Student Code for additional information. The names of Bronze Tablet recipients are inscribed on tablets hanging in the Main Library in recognition of continuous academic achievement.
James Scholar Honors Program
The College of Fine and Applied Arts James Scholar Honors Program creates an opportunity for FAA students to develop knowledge independently under the guidance of their instructors and advisors. Students entering the program in 2016 and later will complete a set of requirements designed to provide challenging, engaging, and diverse experiences. These requirements emphasize the value of research, community engagement, professional development, leadership, and collaboration and will prepare our James Scholars for a successful academic or professional future.
- Annual opportunities to apply for funds to complete projects or conduct research through the James Scholar Project Grant
- More direct interaction with professors and advisors
- Participation in a variety of requirements that are designed to be flexible and to engage and inspire
- Annual designation as a James Scholar on transcripts
- Early registration privileges
- Recognition at graduation
All James Scholars must earn a certain number of points throughout their academic careers to maintain James Scholar status and receive recognition at graduation. At the end of each semester, your progress will be reviewed.
- Earn 2 points each semester by completing an activity that is listed on the honors points table. You may earn only 2 points maximum per semester.
- Beginning of the Semester: Must log in to the James Scholar Database and submit your honors plan to earn points at the beginning of each semester (Monday, January 15–Friday, February 9, for spring 2024). The honors points table outlines some options. You may choose to focus within a single category or select options throughout all categories.
- End of the Semester: Must log in to the James Scholar Database and update your honors plan at the end of each semester with documentation of how you completed your stated honors plan (Monday, April 22–Friday, May 10, for spring 2024). You must refer to the honors points table for specific instructions.
- Maintain full-time (12 semester hours) enrollment at the University of Illinois each semester you are receiving early registration privileges.
- Maintain a cumulative GPA ≥ 3.30.
Failure to submit your James Scholar honors plan at the beginning or the end of the semester or failure to complete the requirements will result in removal from the program.
Research/Academics—2 Points/8 Points Max
An honors project is developed by a student with an instructor for any class during the term. An appropriate project should enhance the knowledge of the student in this particular subject. We encourage instructors and students to brainstorm ideas together, as we do not have any specific requirements for the type of project. Once an agreement on the requirements for the honors project has been reached, the student must submit the details to the FAA Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. Each student should submit an honors credit learning agreement (HCLA) before the fourth week of classes. If the student has completed the special work to the satisfaction of the instructor and has earned a B− or higher in the course, the instructor should submit an honors (H) grade during final grade submission at the end of the semester.
Community Engagement—2 Points/6 Points Max
The following courses have been approved as public engagement courses. Not all courses are offered every semester.
- AHS 365 (Civic Engagement in Wellness)
- ARTE 260 (Museums in Action)
- ARTE 475 (Art Museum Exhibition Practice)
- EDPR 438 (Educational Practice in Special Fields)
- EDPR 442 (Educational Practice in Secondary Education)
- FAA 199 (Exploring Arts in the City)
- FAA 391 (Action Research Seminar)/MUS 438 (Designing Musical Experiences)
- LIS 418 (Community Education)
- MUS 199, section I
- MUS 199, section SCH
- SPAN 232 (Intensive Spoken Spanish)
- SPAN 332 (Spanish and Entrepreneurship)
- UP 455 (Economic Development Workshop)
- UP 456 (Sustainable Planning Workshop)
- UP 478 (Community Development Workshop)
- Eligible incoming first-year students are invited to participate as a part of the admission process. Eligibility is determined after a review of application materials.
- First-year students who have completed one semester of study at the University of Illinois and have earned a GPA ≥3.30 in their fall classes are encouraged to consider nominating themselves for the program. Submit the online self-nomination form during the first two weeks of the spring semester. Admission to the program is competitive due to a limited number of spots available. Selected students will be notified one week after the application deadline.
- Sophomores who would like to participate may self-nominate if they have a cumulative GPA ≥3.30. Submit the online self-nomination form during the first two weeks of the semester. Selected students will be notified one week after the application deadline.
- Self-nominations will not be accepted after completion of the sophomore year or by students who have more than 60 University of Illinois credit hours.
Transfer students may self-nominate during their first semester in residence at the University of Illinois if their transfer GPA is ≥3.50. Submit the online self-nomination form during the first two weeks of the semester. Selected students will be notified one week after the application deadline.
If circumstances require you to leave the program for a semester, you must submit the James Scholar student petition for readmission before you can resume participation. You must remain out of the program for at least one full term. You may submit a petition for readmission during the first two weeks of the following semester for consideration.
The purpose of the James Scholar Project Grant Program is to support outstanding James Scholars in their pursuit of scholarly research or creative projects that are related to their academic research goals. Awards are meant to cover travel costs (to conferences or workshops), expendable materials (not equipment), and living expenses incurred during academic breaks (winter break or summer terms). Funds will not be approved to subsidize study abroad courses or to subsidize unpaid internships. Applicants must have faculty support or mentoring for the duration of their proposed research or creative work. All students participating in the FAA James Scholar Honors Program are invited to apply.
Applicants are also required to display and discuss their research at one of our FAA James Scholar events in the fall or spring. Alternatively, you may choose to display your work at the campus-level Undergraduate Research Symposium, which takes place each spring. Please note that the display of your work is a requirement of this grant, and students may be dropped from the program if this requirement is not fulfilled. Read more detailed information about the grant program.
James Scholar FAQ
Am I required to take a specific course as an FAA James Scholar during my first semester at Illinois?
No, you are required to select an activity from the James Scholar honors points table at the beginning of the term. You must complete this activity during the term in order to earn your required 2 points.
What is the James Scholar honors point table?
The honors points table outlines the options that you may choose from at the beginning of each term.
Do I have to submit an honors plan in the James Scholar Database?
Yes, all James Scholars are required to submit an honors plan in the James Scholar Database during the first three weeks for the term. You must also submit an update to your honors plan during the last three weeks of the term. Please check the requirements for the specific deadlines.
Can I select two options in the James Scholar Database and earn more than 2 points each term?
No, you may select only one option per term. The maximum number of points that can be earned each term is 2.
I have selected “Complete an Honors Project in a Course.” How do I submit an honors credit learning agreement?
If you choose to complete an honors project in a course, you must submit an honors credit learning agreement to the FAA Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs and select this as your honors plan in the James Scholar Database.
The option I chose states, “Honors Dean preapproval required.” How do I obtain approval?
You must first select this option in the James Scholar Database and submit all of the information requested in the honors points table. Once that is submitted, the Honors Dean will review and approve your submission through the James Scholar Database.
If I am taking an honors course through the Campus Honors Program, do I have to submit an honors credit learning agreement?
You must select “Complete an Honors Project in a Course” as your honor plan in the James Scholar Database, but you do not need to submit the honors credit learning agreement if the course is already designated an honors course.
How do I join the James Scholar Honors Program?
The application rules vary for continuing students and transfer students. Please refer to the requirements.
Does submitting the self-nomination form guarantee admission to the James Scholar Honors Program?
No, admission to the program is competitive due to a limited number of spots available. Selected students will be notified one week after the application deadline.
If I am dropped from the James Scholar program, will I have another opportunity to join?
If circumstances require you to leave the program for a semester, a student petition is necessary to resume participation. You may submit a student petition during the first two weeks of the following semester for consideration.
My honors plan is not working out. May I select another honors plan?
Please contact Honors Dean Zelda Gardner to discuss your situation.