The Media James Scholar Experience

Media’s program is structured to enhance students’ academic learning and utilize their talents regardless of career trajectory. The Honors experiences offered encourage our James Scholars to develop skills in:

  • Leadership
  • Research or Honors coursework
  • Service learning and global studies
  • Professional development

Why these skills? Quite simply, the College of Media has a strong commitment to these areas. They address universal competencies for society and the workplace and adopt challenges and needs associated with the career world. The options within each area include existing programs and resources available on campus and in the community. You may learn more about becoming a James Scholar, requirements for remaining in the program, and our Honors activities by exploring the Student Procedures and Honors Credit Learning Agreement (fillable PDF) forms. Current Media students should consult with their academic advisor if questions remain.


Media does not have a self-nomination process for becoming a James Scholar. Rather, eligible students will be contacted directly regarding an invitation to join the program. Students must notify the Honors Dean of acceptance or denial of the offer by the date specified in the notification letter.

Those eligible to join the program include:

  • Current Media students who have been recertified as James Scholar
  • Current Media students who make a spring term Dean’s List, have at least a 3.5 overall GPA, and who are not entering their senior year
  • Students transferring into Media from another college on campus who were certified as James Scholar by their previous college
  • Approximately the top 20% of Media’s incoming freshmen class
    • The top 20% is based on an evaluation of the admissions application including a student’s ACT/SAT scores, high school GPA, application essay, and involvement related to the student's major
    • All admitted freshmen are automatically considered
  • Off-campus transfers into Media with at least a 3.75 transfer GPA may request to join the program upon admission
Student Procedures

Please download and review the complete James Scholar Student Procedures manual to better understand requirements for Media’s James Scholar program. More specific information on remaining a James Scholar, studying abroad as a James Scholar, graduating as a James Scholar, choosing an Honors option, etc. is explained within the manual.

Students have been made aware of all requirements for remaining in the James Scholar program by nature of their publication. It is each student’s responsibility to read and understand all requirements for remaining in the program. Citing ignorance of the rules will not be considered sufficient justification for an appeal of being dropped from the program. Students should contact their academic advisor if questions remain after reviewing the procedures.

Honors Credit Form

Regardless of the Honors option a student is completing during a fall or spring term, all students must submit an Honors Credit Learning Agreement (fillable PDF) form to the College of Media’s James Scholar Box folder indicating the chosen option for the term. Deadlines are listed for each option on the HCLA form and should be reviewed at the start of each term as deadlines are firm and extensions are rarely granted. Forms and any supplementary documentation must be uploaded as one PDF document to the appropriate Box folder by 11:59 p.m. CST on the stated deadline.

  • Any form with an “end of the week” deadline is due on the Friday by 11:59 p.m. of the stated week, not the following Sunday.
  • HCLA forms will NOT be accepted via email to the Honors Dean, the Media Student Services Center, or your academic advisor prior to or after this deadline.
  • Each option listed on the form also includes: space for additional information and/or paperwork, if any, that is required; notation as to if the option is repeatable for Honors credit; and which options are noted on a student’s transcript.
Faculty Procedures

One of the most common Honors options for College of Media James Scholars is the ability to turn a traditional course into an Honors course via completing an additional project within the confines of a course. While James Scholars may complete Honors projects within any of their 3+ credit hour classes, many may wish to pursue a project in one of their major courses.

Honors projects vary widely because Media is full of classes with varying subject matter. Thus, we are not restrictive on what the project must look like. Creativity is the key here and we trust the faculty who have the subject knowledge to guide the expectations for the project. Students are also encouraged to suggest possible topic ideas and approach their instructors early in the term (within the first three to six weeks) to discuss and agree upon a topic. If a student approaches you about completing an Honors project in one of your courses, here are some points to keep in mind.

  • Students must be completing extraordinary work in your course in order for it to qualify as an Honors course; please encourage them to do so
  • Students are expected to bring a project idea to you as the professor. However, work with the student to mold the project into something that is meaningful and appropriate to your course. Write up the official proposal together.
    • Help them think “outside the box” when writing their proposal
    • Expect work fitting of an Honors student
    • Consider their skill sets and help them build upon them
    • Choose a project that will help a student add to a portfolio or resume
    • A student should expect to spend about 15 hours throughout the semester on this project 
  • Consider an Honors group project if several students in the same class are interested in completing a project
  • If a student successfully completes the project, you will enter an “H” grade along with their traditional letter grade at the time of grade entry (ex. “AH”, “B+H”)
    • It is solely the professor’s judgement as to whether or not honors credit has been earned
    • A student must earn at least a “B-“ in your course in order to be eligible for the additional “H” grade
  • Please review the full Faculty Procedures for additional guidelines

Honors Credit Form

Regardless of the Honors option a student is pursuing during a fall or spring term, all students must submit a completed Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA) form to the College of Media’s James Scholar Box folder by 11:59 p.m. CST on the stated deadline. Deadlines are listed for each option on the HCLA form and students are charged with reviewing them at the start of each term.  

Honors Project Options

Media is committed to helping our students develop both academically and professionally utilizing campus resources revolving around professional development, service learning, leadership, and research. As such, a list of Honors options has been created to allow each Media James Scholar the opportunity to work toward these attributes. Options include programs and resources available on campus and in the local community while taking into consideration James Scholar principles of academic supervision, one-on-one interaction with an Illinois professor or staff member, and a minimum of 15 hours of project work.

Media James Scholars must complete at least one Honors option each academic year. Some available options include:

  • Participating in the Undergrad Research Symposium upon completing research with a University professor
  • Completing an Honors project within a traditional semester-long course
  • Attending Media’s James Scholar Spring Break trip abroad
  • Taking an academic leadership course
  • Completing a semester-long internship (during the fall or spring semesters only)
  • All options are explained in more detail within the Student Procedures. When reviewing options, note the stated deadlines as these are strictly enforced. In addition, only options listed as “repeatable” within the procedures may be taken for Honors credit more than once.
Honors Option in a Traditional Course

One of the most impactful experiences a Media Honors student can pursue is a one-on-one project with an instructor in a traditional course. Students who wish to earn an Honors grade in a traditional/non-Honors course can opt to pursue an Honors project through completing an Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA).

Media Honors describes Honors projects as something that students will commit an additional 15 hours to over the course of a semester. It should be a project that allows the student to dig deeper into the subject matter and develop unique skills. Ideally it is not just turning a paper into a longer paper, or reading an extra article and submitting a paper on the subject. Instead, a student may consider doing an oral presentation, developing a research project, taking a deeper dive on interesting subject matter, completing a study of current events that relate to the course topic, a multimedia project, or anything that helps a student add to their portfolio of skills.


  • Presentations
  • Research experiences or surveys
  • Curricular development
  • Community outreach
  • Internet, film, or photographic projects
  • Multimedia essays or website design
  • Social media explorations
  • Interdisciplinary projects
  • Brand reviews
  • Film critiques
  • Interview experts in your chosen area of exploration

See more information about this Honors option on pages six and seven of the Student Procedures.  

Remaining a James Scholar

In order to remain in the James Scholar program and be certified for the upcoming school year, students must:

  • Maintain on-campus semester and Illinois cumulative GPAs of 3.5 or higher
  • Complete a minimum of 12 graded credit hours each fall and spring on the Illinois campus**
    • Winter term and Summer courses will not be included in this total
    • Coursework taken for Pass/Fail or Credit/No Credit do NOT count toward this total, NO EXCEPTIONS
    • Coursework taken at Parkland College or another institution during the fall or spring does not count toward either the GPA or the 12 graded hour requirement.
  • Complete at least one Honors option/project each academic year (see "Honors Options" section above)
  • A minimum of FIVE must be completed by the fall term of a student's graduation year in order to graduate as a James Scholar
    • See the “Graduating with James Scholar Distinction” section of the procedures for more details
    • Please note that beginning with the 2022-2023 academic year, ALL Media James Scholar students, regardless of class standing, need to complete FIVE Honors activities by the end of their final fall semester to graduate with James Scholar distinction. Students in Media’s program were notified of this change in August 2021; at that time, sophomores and juniors were encouraged to make the necessary adjustments by planning to complete an additional Honors project or two throughout the 2021-2022 academic year. Thus, there will be NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule and petition requests will not be approved.

There are two review periods each academic year to ensure students are meeting the above requirements:

  • The first occurs after the completion of the Fall term; students are reviewed at that time for meeting the 12 graded credit hours in the fall and the 3.5 semester and overall GPA’s
    • See the “Additional Information for Freshmen” section in the procedures for an exception to this rule
  • A second, and more complete review, occurs during the summer; students are reviewed for meeting all listed requirements

All requirements must be completed in order to continue in the James Scholar program for the next academic year. Students who are not meeting these standards at the time of either review will be notified at the conclusion of the applicable review period that their status has been lost.