College of Engineering

James Scholar Program

The Engineering College Honors Program is built around two phases. The first phase serves the freshman year, and the second phase is a coordinated set of honors activities spread over the sophomore, junior, and senior years.

Admission criteria and procedures, continuation eligibility requirements, and various types of honors experiences for the Engineering College Honors Program are described in more detail below.

Freshman James Scholar Program


Students who are admitted to the College of Engineering as freshmen are eligible to participate in the Freshman James Scholar Program provided that they achieve an ACT composite score of 33 or higher or equivalent SAT score. Students who graduate in the top 99 percentile of their high school class are also eligible for the program.

Freshmen who do not initially qualify may apply after achieving a GPA of 3.3 (3.5 for Electrical and Computer Engineering) or higher after one semester.

Honors Activities

At least one honors activity is required during the freshman year. This would be taken more often during the second semester. The following courses and activities are recognized as freshman honors experiences:

  • Completion of an honors section of any course, ie., completion of courses with "Honors" in the title, such as Honors Project or Honors Seminar.
  • Completion of a course with an Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA).
  • Any course or activity which involves effort beyond normal academic requirements may, upon review and approval of the Engineering Honors Council, be considered as an honors experience. Such requests should be submitted to the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Programs.

Upperclass James Scholar Program

Admission and Activities

The Upperclass James Scholar Program is open to all students who achieve at least a 3.30 GPA (3.5 for Electrical and Computer Engineering majors) during their freshman year at Illinois. Each individual department may require a higher GPA.

Sophomores with advanced standing, who submit an acceptable honors contract early, may already substitute the honors course for the year with one of the courses included in the contract. In subsequent years, students need not register for honors courses but simply take courses included in their contract. To receive James Scholar certification in any given academic year, besides maintaining the minimum GPA, students should take at least one course from the ones in the contract.

Anyone meeting the GPA requirement may apply for later admission to the Upperclass James Scholar Program, during the first two weeks of each semester. Junior and senior students should also submit the honors contract at the time of application.