College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

James Scholar Program

Within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the James Scholar Honors Program encourages academically gifted students to develop their abilities fully, and to achieve the college's highest academic recognition. By annually maintaining certification as James Scholars, participating students seek sustained intellectual achievement as undergraduates.


The James Scholar Honors Program offers a number of curricular and co-curricular opportunities to entering first-year students who elect to participate as a James Scholar Designee. Incoming students are notified of their eligibility by a separate letter of invitation from the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Qualified continuing or transfer students with a qualifying cumulative grade point average may self-nominate to become an LAS James Scholar by inquiring at the LAS Honors Office at Room 1 of the University YMCA. Eligibility requirements are subject to change per academic year and can be found on the LAS Honors website (see below).

LAS James Scholars must complete at least two honors courses or HCLAs during the academic year, and earn a 3.5 cumulative grade point average to remain in the program.

Departmental Honors Programs

Individual departments in LAS have developed honors offerings for undergraduate students who show excellence and special interest in their chosen majors. Graduation with departmental distinction will require a strong Illinois and program GPA, as well as completion of specific departmental honors courses, seminars, or research projects. Departmental honors courses and Honors Credit Learning Agreements will satisfy James Scholar course requirements at the college level.

Departments with honors opportunities include Integrative Biology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Mathematics, Psychology, English and History; other LAS major programs may develop honors experiences on an individual basis. To join a departmental honors program, students should contact their academic adviser early in their college career.

LAS Honors at Graduation

To graduate with College honors, a student must rank in the top 12% of the LAS graduating class and satisfy one of the following three requirements:

  • Completion of 25 hours of honors courses (including work taken on Honors Credit Learning Agreements); or
  • Completion of 35 hours of 300-400 level coursework; or
  • Satisfaction of the requirements for departmental distinction.

Cohn Scholars Program

This program provides a unique opportunity for outstanding first-year humanities students. Program components include receiving a $1,000 scholarship, taking a designated seminar or course, and attending various cultural activities. An additional benefit of the Cohn program is the opportunity to take an independent study course with a faculty member. Incoming first-year students with a record of outstanding achievement who have chosen humanities majors are invited to apply. A faculty committee nominates the Cohn Scholars.

For more information

Visit the LAS honors page.