Division of General Studies (DGS)

James Scholar Program

In DGS, we value exploration in its varied forms. This spirit of discovery is built into our James Scholar Honors Program, as our high-achieving students explore their many passions, interests, and talents.

Exploring Honors Themes

In creating a meaningful and valuable honors experience for students, we have created four central theme areas in which DGS James Scholars are encouraged to develop transferable skills and academic discipline. The four themes are:

  • leadership
  • service-learning and engagement
  • creativity
  • research

Benefits of the program

  • Gain understanding of skills that are valuable for all majors and all careers
  • Learn more about applying your passions, strengths, and interests
  • Be involved in original research and work one-on-one with faculty members
  • Service learning activities and active engagement in the community around you
  • Leadership opportunities within DGS and across campus
  • Develop and understand how to leverage your creativity
  • Enjoy benefits like early priority registration and recognition at graduation
  • Foster close relationships with faculty that can enrich your education and lead to future opportunities to pursue

Freshman and Sophomore Experience
During the freshman and sophomore year, DGS James Scholars have several options for earning honors credit:

  • enrolling in DGS honors courses
  • enrolling in other college or department designated honors courses
  • enhancing a standard course with an Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA)
  • enrolling in a Campus Honors Program course (Chancellor's Scholars)

The Honors Director will identify theme courses each semester that are recommended for an HCLA upgrade, as they are aligned with the program's core themes of leadership, creativity, research, and service-learning and engagement.

How do DGS James Scholars get involved?

  • Serve in a leadership position on the DGS Honors Council
  • Serve as an active member of DGSociety, our student leadership organization
  • Past social events have included the Honor Roll Bowling Party, Scholars on Ice, Ice Cream Social, and visiting a local haunted house
  • Engaging in creative, service, leadership, and research opportunities on campus
  • Fun educational trips, such as our Spring 2010 visit to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

Becoming a DGS James Scholar
Approximately 12% of admitted DGS freshmen are invited to participate in the James Scholar Honors Program, based on an evaluation of their admissions application.

Continuing students who have earned an Illinois cumulative GPA of 3.6 or higher are qualified to self-nominate at the beginning of each semester while in DGS.

Newly Admitted transfer students are qualified to self-nominate if they have earned a 3.6 cumulative GPA or higher at their previous institution.

  • 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.

James Scholar students who transfer into DGS from other colleges on campus maintain their James Scholar designation, assuming that all requirements were met through their previous college.

Maintaining James Scholar Status

To remain an active and certified DGS James Scholar, students must:

  • maintain a semester and Illinois cumulative GPA of at least 3.5
  • complete two honors requirements each academic year
  • enroll in at least 12 credit hours during the fall and spring semesters

At the end of each semester, students are reviewed for their progress and may be contacted regarding any missing eligibility requirements. Based on this review, a student's honors status is subject to change.

Upon Declaring a Major

Once a James Scholar declares a major, he or she will be held to the standards of their admitting college. Note that each college administers their program requirements differently. Students should meet with their DGS academic advisor or the honors director to discuss their intended major and the James Scholar Honors Program requirements of the corresponding college.