College of Engineering Honors

James Scholar Program in Engineering

The gifted undergraduate student who is seeking the challenge of advanced and unusual academic opportunities and the maximum freedom in course selection will find such opportunity in the James Scholar Program in Engineering. In addition to the various honors sections, courses, and special educational opportunities made available by the various departments of the college, the program administers several engineering honors courses. These courses are designed to bring together James Scholars from throughout the college to study various interdisciplinary subjects.

The James Scholar Program is voluntary and therefore enrolls superior students who are actively seeking unusual academic challenges. It strives to interact with each student on an individual basis; its foundation lies in the student's interest and academic goals.

The College of Engineering requires its James Scholars to devise an "honors contract" in consultation with the honors advisor. For CS, honors advising, like other academic advising, is handled in the Academic Office. Contact undergrad@cs.illinois.edu for honors advising. For more information about the James Scholar Program in Engineering, including eligibility criteria, see the website.

Graduating with Honors in Engineering

Honors awarded at graduation to superior students are designated on the diploma as Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors.


  • Honors Students with a cumulative University of Illinois grade point average of at least 3.5.
  • High Honors Students with a cumulative University of Illinois grade point average of 3.8.
  • Highest Honors may be awarded to any student upon recommendation of the department. The criteria used in selecting individuals for Highest Honors recognition include a GPA of at least 3.95 or a combination of a GPA of at least 3.8 plus one or more of the following: 1) evidence of a broad range of supplementary activities of an academic nature, 2) a substantial body of advanced CS coursework beyond that required for the degree (individual study, graduate-level work, senior thesis), 3) a substantial body of advanced coursework outside of CS, e.g., a second major or a minor that does not overlap significantly with degree requirements (e.g. not the Math minor). Highest Honors is necessarily selective, awarded to a relatively small fraction of students.  For students with a GPA from 3.949 down to 3.8 we look for increasing evidence of going “above and beyond” the minimum requirements for the degree in order to receive Highest Honors.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Honors

James Scholar Program in LAS

Within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS), the James Scholar Honors Program encourages academically gifted students to fully develop their intellectual abilities and achieve the college's highest academic recognition. Scholars are charged with the responsibility of seeking sustained intellectual achievement as undergraduates by achieving and annually maintaining James Scholar certification.

Only the top 15 percent of the entering freshman are invited to participate in the LAS's James Scholar Honors Program. These incoming students are notified of their admission with a letter from the dean of the college. Continuing or transfer students with a 3.5 (A=4.0) cumulative grade point average may nominate themselves as James Scholars.

James Scholars must meet the requirements each academic year to remain in good standing to continue receiving the program's benefits. To be certified as a James Scholar in LAS each year, scholars must fulfill the following criteria: complete at least two honors courses (one per semester) or Honors Credit Agreements during the academic year and earn a 3.5 cumulative grade point average.

Graduating with Distinction in LAS

Criteria for graduation with Distinction, High Destinction and Highest Destinction in the LAS CS programs can be found under the degree requirements listing for each major in the university's Academic Catalog, as follows:

Programs not listed above have yet to establish criteria.