College of Education

James Scholar Honors Program

Home Program Details Participating Faculty Researchers Scholar Showcase Distinguished Mentor Award FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

The College of Education is here to help you with any questions regarding the James Scholar Program. We hope the Frequently Asked Questions below will help with most queries. If you cannot find the answer to your question, feel free to contact us to find out more.

eHCLA (electronic Honors Credit Learning Agreement)

How do I submit the eHCLA (Honors Credit Learning Agreement)?

The process will begin with an invitation to the eHCLA link.

If you are completing a course related project or a faculty led research project, it is your responsibility to initiate discussion with the instructor or faculty member and electronically complete and submit the form.  You will be asked to provide the instructor's (or faculty members) e-mail, as well as a short description of the project. Once submitted, your project proposal will be sent for review and the instructor or faculty member will accept the agreement, ask for a revision, or reject your proposal.

If you choose to complete an eHCLA for a dedicated course, you will be required to submit the CRN and course subject and number.

You will receive an official project approval notification if/when your proposal has been approved.

If your proposal is not approved, you will be told why and given the opportunity to correct the issue(s) preventing approval.

What is the deadline to submit an eHCLA?

The deadline for fall projects is October 1 and the spring deadline is March 1.

I lost track of time and didn't complete my eHCLA by the deadline. Can't I just do one anyway if it's only a little late?

No. eHCLA's are not accepted after the deadline. Students are notified multiple times and have ample opportunities to submit their eHCLA in a timely manner.

Will my eHCLA be approved if my instructor doesn’t review it by the deadline?

Your eHCLA will be approved as long as you submitted it by the deadline, even if your instructor doesn't approve it by the deadline.

If I decide not to complete the project in my eHCLA does that affect my grade?

No, this will not affect your grades. However, it will affect your ability to earn academic year transcript notation as well as losing the perk of early registration.

Program Requirements

If I began my studies at UIUC, what are the requirements to earn cords at graduation?

To receive honor cord recognition, students must have been awarded at least three James Scholar academic certifications. In addition, two research projects are required, and they MUST participate their senior year.

Do I have to complete one project from each James Scholar Theme?

No, you don't! You only have to complete specific types of projects if you are pursuing James Scholar cords at graduation. We encourage interdisciplinary education through honors experiences that encourage you to separate your education from traditional academic boundaries.


Do I have to take a dedicated James Scholar Course?

No, you don't! See Program Details for all options available.

My friends and I want to work on this James Scholar project together since we are all in the same class. That way, we can share the work and contribute to one presentation. Can we do that?

No. Since James Scholar projects are individually earned and awarded credit, you MUST complete your own project and presentation. While your instructor may have you work on similar projects within the course related project, you must do all work individually involving research, creating your unique findings and presentation.

What are the benefits of being a James Scholar?

James Scholars receive notable perks from participating in the program including:


  • Early Registration.
  • Stacks pass to the main Undergraduate Library.
  • Transcript notation for each academic year (example, 2023-2024) in which projects are successfully completed.
  • Scholars and families are invited to the annual James Scholar Recognition brunch in the spring semester.
  • Registration in campus courses only available to James Scholars.
  • Ability to earn honors grades in courses.
  • Engagement in faculty led research projects.
  • Special recognition during graduation.
  • Opportunity to earn Honors regalia to wear at graduation ceremony.
  • Interdisciplinary education through honors experiences that encourage you to separate your education from traditional academic boundaries.
Can I do James Scholar projects during my senior year?

Yes! Scholars who want to earn James Scholar regalia to wear at graduation must participate their senior year. 

If my fall term GPA is less than 3.50, can I still be a James Scholar in the spring?

No, you will not be a James Scholar in the spring and you will not earn James Scholars Honors for the year. Note: first semester freshmen who earn an Institutional and Overall GPA of 3.25 during their first (fall) semester are eligible to continue in the spring. This applies only to freshmen for their first semester.

If you are a continuing student who earned less than a 3.5 GPA in the fall your GPA to 3.5 after the spring semester, you will be invited to participate again the following year.


If I do a course-related project, which class should I choose?

You should choose a class that interests you or explore classes with subjects you might want to learn more about and in which you would enjoy doing an extra project. The course can be for any number of credit hours. It cannot be a practicum or a physical activity (bowling, tennis, etc.) course. It must be a graded course.

Is there a list of James Scholar classes?

Refer to the Dedicated James Scholar Courses page for details.

Is there a minimum number of hours required?

No, there is not a minimum number of hours the class must be nor is there a minimum you must take for the semester outside of the 12 hours required by the college to be a full-time student.

Does completing a course-related project add credit hours to the course?

No, there are no additional credit hours given other than the credit for the course. The James Scholar project you complete for a course doesn't act like extra credit. If you complete the project to the satisfaction of your instructor, you will receive an honors grade for the class, but your letter grade will not be higher because you completed the James Scholar project.

Am I allowed to take more than one honors class per semester?

Yes, but you may only select one to count toward your semester James Scholar project.

Can I use a credit/no credit course?

No, you must earn a B- or better to receive James Scholars certification.


If I participate in a faculty or campus led research project, do I earn any credit?

No, you will not earn course credit for either of these.

How much of a time commitment is involved in a research project?

This depends on the project and what you and the faculty member conducting the project decide! You may have a weekly hour goal or a semester hour goal, however this is something that should be discussed right away and you should be aware of the time you need to commit to your coursework prior to discussions with faculty.

How should I approach contacting a faculty member about participating in their research?

Remember that faculty are not obliged to work with you and be respectful and conscientious when you communicate with the faculty member. See example below:

Dear Professor X,

My name is X and I am a James Scholar interested in participating in your X research project. This research interests me because (…). Is this project open to James Scholars this semester? If so, I would appreciate the opportunity to meet and discuss my participation in further detail. I am available (dates) or through e-mail and/or meeting virtually. Thank you for your consideration, I look forward to further conversation regarding your research!