College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

The ACES James Scholar Honors Program empowers exceptional undergraduates to enhance their academic experiences through a broad array of activities. Participation is open to all qualified students enrolled in any degree program within the College of ACES.

Becoming an ACES James Scholar

Qualified incoming students are invited to the James Scholar program by the Honors Dean following review of their admission application and prior to their arrival on campus. Typically the top 15% of incoming freshmen and transfer students with a 3.5 or greater cumulative GPA are eligible to participate.

Freshmen who do not initially qualify may apply for acceptance into the James Scholar program during the first three weeks of their second semester if they have achieved a minimum GPA of 3.40 during their first semester.

A complete description of the ACES James Scholar Honors Program and its requirements is available in the ACES Honors Handbook.

Freshman James Scholars

Honors Activities

At least one scholar's activity is required during the freshman year. Completion of a course with an Honors Credit Learning Agreement; completion of a designated honors course or honors section of a course; an activity involving effort beyond normal academic requirements approved by the Honors Dean in the College of ACES.

Freshmen must carry at least 28 graded credit hours for the academic year and attend selected James Scholar activities.

Upperclass James Scholars


Students with sophomore status and a cumulative GPA of 3.40 or higher are eligible to continue participation. Students who are dropped can apply for readmission if the cumulative GPA is raised above the minimum 3.40 by the first semester of their junior year.

Sophomore Year

Students carry at least 28 graded credit hours for the academic year, complete an honors activity as described for the freshman year, and participate in selected James Scholars activities.

Students must also submit for approval an Honors Completion Plan that proposes: (1) Annual participation in an honors activity as described for freshmen; (2) at least four 400-level courses; (3) at least one 500-level course; (4) a bachelor?s thesis, laboratory project, or design project; (5) annual participation in selected James Scholar activities; and (6) presentation of a poster or display summarizing their research at the annual ExplorACES event or another approved venue.

Junior and Senior Years

Students complete the approved Honors Completion Plan. Junior transfer students meeting the minimum 3.40 GPA requirement may apply to enter the ACES James Scholar Honors Program during their first semester at Illinois.

Upperclassmen are awarded $1,000 to help defray the cost of the bachelor's thesis, laboratory project, or design project, and are also awarded a partial academic scholarship for one semester.

Other Honors and Recognitions in ACES

Jonathan Baldwin Turner Scholars

Thirty-five to forty freshmen are awarded a $10,000 merit scholarship over four years, $4,000 the first year, with renewal each year a 3.4 GPA or higher is earned. The remaining $6,000 scholarship commitment will be awarded in three $2,000 increments during the student's sophomore, junior and senior years. Candidates are selected through an interview process with minimum criteria begin an ACT of 29 or a high school rank in the top 10 percent of the class.

Undergraduate Research Scholars Program

This program provides research opportunities for undergraduate students who demonstrate superior academic ability and a strong interest in a broad range of food, agricultural, consumer and environmental science issues.

Students with junior standing and a minimum GPA of 3.0 can apply for an ACES Undergraduate Research Award, consisting of up to $1,000 for research expenses and a $400 scholarship.