Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA) Options for James Scholar Students

(Last updated July 2023.)

Media has a commitment to helping our students develop in areas of professional development, service learning, leadership, and research. As such, the options listed below allow each James Scholar the opportunity to pick the attribute upon which they would like to build in each given year. The options include existing programs and resources available on campus, while taking into consideration James Scholar principles of academic supervision, one-on-one interaction with a University of Illinois professor or staff member, and a minimum of 15 additional hours of work per project.

Students continuing as James Scholars must complete at least ONE of the Honors options below each academic year. The academic year refers to fall and spring terms; Honors projects CANNOT be completed over summer or winter terms. Additional information and/or applicable deadlines for Honors form submission are noted on the Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA). All forms must be submitted to Media’s James Scholar Box folder at https://go.illinois.edu/MediaHonors by 11:59 p.m. CST on the deadline listed on the Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA). Unless otherwise noted, deadlines ending at the “end of the 3rd” or “6th week of classes” refers to the Friday of that week, not the 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. 

If questions remain about Honors options or requirements after a careful review of all information in this document, students should speak with their academic advisor. Please note some of the listed options require additional paperwork or the submission of a project in order for the Honors requirement to be considered complete. Only options noted as repeatable will be counted multiple times.

No matter the Honors option chosen, an HCLA form MUST be submitted following directions above to indicate completion of a project. Assumptions will not be made that completion of any activity approved per the HCLA without receipt of the actual HCLA form, was for the purpose of completing a James Scholar project. Please note, not all options will include Honors notation on a student’s transcript. Those that qualify for Honors notation are noted as such. Also note that not all Honors options come with associated credit hours and coursework. 

HONORS OR RESEARCH COURSEWORK OPTIONS

Click here to download the fillable Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA).  

Traditional Course
Honors Notation?: With consent of instructor | Repeatable?: Yes | Due: end of 3rd (8-week)  or 6th (full-semester) week of classes of semester in which course is completed (see below)

Complete an Honors Course Learning Agreement (HCLA) in a regular course on the Urbana-Champaign campus (this is the traditional Honors option). 

  • Project proposal and HCLA form for an 8-week course must be submitted by the end of the 3rd week of classes
  • Project proposal and HCLA form for a 16-week course must be submitted by the end of the 6th week of classes 
  • Chosen course must be taken for standard letter grade, can only be taken in the fall or spring term, and must be a minimum of 3 credit hours
    • Student must receive at least a “B-H” grade in their course in order for it to count as an Honors project
  • See Additional Information below for more information

Campus Honors or James Scholar Designated Course
Honors Notation?: Yes | Repeatable?: Yes | Due: end of 3rd (8-week)  or 6th (full-semester) week of classes of semester in which course is completed (see below)
Complete a Campus Honors course or other course designated for James Scholars.

  • HCLA form for an 8-week class must be submitted by the end of the 3rd week of classes in the semester 
  • HCLA form for a 16-week class must be submitted by the end of the 6th week of classes in the semester 
  • Chosen course must be taken for standard letter grade, can only be taken in the fall or spring term, and must be a minimum of 3 credit hours
    • Student must receive at least a “B-H” grade in their course in order for it to count as an Honors project
  • Campus Honors courses are eligible only to those who qualify for that program

Research Assistant or Independent Study Course
Honors Notation?: No | Repeatable?: Yes | Due: end of 3rd week from the first day of the course

Work as a research assistant or complete an approved independent study course.

  • Independent Study courses must be taken as a full 16-week course for a standard letter grade, can only be taken in the fall or spring term, and must be a minimum of 3 credit hours
  • Student must already be registered for the specific research or independent study course listed on the HCLA form at the time of submission 
  • Students must earn a minimum of a “B-” grade in the course in order to count as an Honors project
  • Independent Study forms can be found in the Forms & Petitions section of the Media Student Resources website

Undergraduate Research Symposium Participation
Honors Notation?: N/A | Repeatable?: No | Due: end of 6th week of spring classes

Student participates in the spring Undergraduate Research Symposium. This option is NOT offered for course credit.

  • The Honors Dean will verify participation in the program with the Illinois Office of Undergraduate Research
SERVICE LEARNING OR GLOBAL STUDIES OPTIONS

Click here to download the fillable Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA).  

Faculty-Led Seminars Abroad
Honors Notation?: With consent of instructor | Repeatable?: No | Due: end of 3rd week from the first day of the course
Student enrolls in an on-campus seminar led by faculty. During the class enrollment period, student travels abroad with other enrolled students.

  • Must attend both class and trip abroad, earning at least a “B-“ in the course, in order to qualify for Honors credit
  • Course is typically offered as an 8-week course with trips occurring over spring break, after May commencement, or during winter break
  • Please see the Course Explorer for additional information on these courses
  • If a James Scholar-designated course, it MUST be international; domestic immersion trips do not qualify
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPTIONS

Click here to download the fillable Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA).  

Semester-Long Internship
Honors Notation?: No | Repeatable?: No | Due: end of 6th week of classes of semester in which course is completed

Complete a College of Media-approved semester-long internship including successful completion of a 495 seminar course.  

  • Must be taken in the fall or spring semester only as summer internships do not apply
  • The internship must be pre-approved by the College of Media’s Career Services 
  • Must be registered for the seminar course (ADV, JOUR, or MACS 495) listed on the HCLA form at the time of submission 
    • An “S” grade for the 495 course must be received, indicating completion of course requirements
  • The 495 seminar course offered is NOT included in the 12 graded hours required of the James Scholar program; it is each student’s responsibility to ensure they are enrolled in 12 graded hours in addition to the 495 seminar course

Ebert Fellowship in Media Criticism
Honors Notation?: No | Repeatable?: No | Due: 2 weeks following notification of position
The Ebert Fellowship in Media Criticism provides fellows with mentorship from a professional film critic, as well as increased development of the student’s arts journalism and media criticism skills. The call for applicants is announced at the beginning of each fall semester. If awarded, a student is notified by the College of Media. 

  • Supporting documentation verifying student’s acceptance into the Fellowship must be included with the HCLA by deadline noted above
  • Must be registered for the ADV, JOUR, or MACS 495 EF section listed on the HCLA form at the time of submission
    • An “S” grade for the 495 course must be received, indicating completion of course requirements
  • The 495 seminar course offered is NOT included in the 12 graded hours required of the James Scholar program; it is each student’s responsibility to ensure they are enrolled in 12 graded hours in addition to the 495 seminar course

Illinois Public Media Faculty-Led Experience
Honors Notation?: Yes | Repeatable?: No | Due: end of 3rd week of classes of semester in which course is completed

Working with journalism faculty, students chosen for one of these courses will be learning to produce professional-quality news stories for the Illinois Public Media newsroom.

  • Student must be registered in either JOUR 280 or 400 at the time of HCLA form submission
    • The chosen course may be taken for 1, 2, 3, or 4 credit hours
    • Student must receive at least a “B-H” grade in their course in order for it to count as an Honors project
    • Chosen course must be taken for standard letter grade, can only be taken in the fall or spring term
  • Due to the nature of the course, no additional project proposal is required; however, both the student and the participating instructor must sign the HCLA form, acknowledging the Honors nature of the course
  • Students may not receive credit for both JOUR 280 and 400 even though taken in separate semesters 
LEADERSHIP OPTIONS

Click here to download the fillable Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA).  

Academic Leadership Course
Honors Notation?: No | Repeatable?: No | Due: end of 3rd week of classes of semester in which course is completed

Only the following academic leadership courses taken on the Illinois campus will count for Honors credit: ACE 291, BADM 310, BADM 311, BADM 314, CMN 321, ENG 315, LEAD 230, LEAD 260, LEAD 340, LEAD 380, LEAD 460, LEAD 480, SE 361, SOCW 321. These courses are hand-selected from the Leadership Studies minor and the Leadership Certificate. 

  • No additional courses will count toward this option
  • The course must be taken for standard letter grade
    • Students must earn a minimum of a “B-” in order for it to count as an Honors project

Student Representative to a University or Media Appointed Campus Committee
Honors Notation?: No | Repeatable?: No | Due: end of 6th week of classes; see below

Serve as a College of Media student representative on a Campus or Media committee, including the Media Student Advisory Board. Students may need to apply for these positions. This option is NOT offered for course credit.

  • Supporting documentation verifying the student’s role on the committee must be submitted along with the HCLA form by the end of the 6th week of classes, preferably in the fall unless a student’s service does not begin prior to this date. In this case, the HCLA form should be submitted at the beginning of the spring term
  • Students must be appointed either by the College of Media or a University unit (such as Office of the Dean of Students) to this committee in order to qualify
  • Student will serve on these committees with University faculty and/or staff
  • This option does NOT include participation in Registered Student Organizations

Representative to the Student Senate
Honors Notation?: No | Repeatable?: No | Due: end of 6th week of classes; see below

Serve as a College of Media representative on the Student Senate. To become a Senator, a student must apply for and win their college’s seat in the Academic Senate during the spring semester, or fill a vacant seat in the Senate of the ISG. This option is NOT offered for course credit.

  • Supporting documentation verifying the student’s role in the Senate must be submitted along with the HCLA form by the end of the 6th week of classes, preferably in the fall unless a student’s service does not begin prior to this date. In this case, the HCLA form should be submitted at the beginning of the spring term

Leadership Portfolio with Personal Development Plan
Honors Notation?: N/A | Repeatable?: No | Due: December 1st or April 1st depending on term of completion

Complete a Leadership Portfolio with a Personal Development Plan as required for the Leadership Certificate. This option is NOT offered for course credit.

  • HCLA form must be submitted by December 1st for fall completion or April 1st for spring completion
  • As seniors must complete Honors projects in the fall, spring completion for graduating seniors is NOT an option
  • During the summer review period, the Leadership coach will be contacted to verify that the Leadership Portfolio was completed during the previous academic year

The Institute™ by LeaderShape®
Honors Notation?: N/A | Repeatable?: No | Due: end of 3rd week of spring semester classes following participation

The Institute™ by LeaderShape® is an I-Program offered by the Leadership Center over Winter Break. This option is NOT offered for course credit.

  • The Honors Dean will verify participation in the program with the Leadership Center
  • Students must apply in the fall for this opportunity
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
  • If a student is completing one of the Honors coursework options, the Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA) form must be submitted by the stated deadline in order for the Honors designation to be entered onto the course. Deadlines are stated above and on the HCLA form
  • If a student is completing an unlisted activity that they believe is representative of the categories represented, a petition may be filed using an Academic Petition found on the Forms and Petitions section of the Media’s Student Resources website. These activities must be verifiable, supervised by an Illinois faculty or staff member, and must conform to the HCLA standard of approximately 15 hours of meaningful engagement
  • All requirements for remaining in the James Scholar program MUST be completed on the Illinois campus. Courses taken off-campus are NOT considered when GPAs are calculated and credit hours are counted

PROCESS FOR COMPLETING A TRADITIONAL COURSE OPTION

  • Check the syllabus of the course in which you wish to use an HCLA. Sometimes instructors have information and directions about completing an Honors project for their class written into the syllabus
    • The course chosen must be taken for a minimum of 3 letter grade credit hours in a fall or spring semester
    • Honors credit cannot be earned for summer or winter term coursework
  • Contact the professor who teaches the course in which you wish to use an HCLA if explicit directions have not been outlined in the syllabus
  • Be ready to submit a proposal in which you state the project you wish to work on
  • Work with your professor to come to an agreement on a clear and approved written proposal
  • Complete the HCLA form, email it to your cooperating instructor for their signature, and ask that they return it to you
  • Save the HCLA form and your project proposal as ONE PDF document
  • Submit the HCLA and project proposal by the end of the 3rd week for an 8-week class or by the end of the 6th week for a 16-week class to the College of Media’s James Scholar Box folder at: https://go.illinois.edu/MediaHonors 
  • If you need a spare HCLA form, it has been sent to you by email and is available on the James Scholar website

Student Expectations for Completing an Honors Credit Learning Agreement

  • Approach the professor with a clear plan describing the work you wish to complete WELL BEFORE the deadline
  • Complete extraordinary work in the course; it is at the discretion of the instructor to determine whether the quality of your HCLA project exceeds regular coursework or if it is to be substituted in part for regular coursework
  • Complete the project by the end of the semester in which the course is taken
  • Meet with your instructor regularly to discuss your progress
  • Devote approximately 15 additional hours of work time to an HCLA project

Consider the Following

  • Honors courses are a unique way to enhance your classroom experience by collaborating with your instructor
  • Your options for the project are many and you should base them on your areas of interest
    • Consider personal or career interests; use your project as an opportunity to research an area of personal interest, make professional contacts, enhance your resume, etc.
    • Consider your instructor’s area of expertise and/or research; ask to participate in their research processes in a variety of settings and be open to their suggestions on project ideas
    • Review subject matter addressed in class and the areas in which you would like to expand your knowledge
    • Think about how you could use your media skills to produce an extraordinary Honors project; produce a piece you could add to a portfolio
  • You cannot take an Honor’s course Credit/No Credit and must receive at least a “B-“ for your professor to assign an “H” letter grade attribute for the class
  • Your instructor may decline to grant Honors credit if the HCLA project has not been completed satisfactorily. The instructor is the sole judge of whether Honors credit is to be granted

​​​​​The “H” Grade Reminder

  • During the last week of classes, remind your professor that you have been working on an HCLA and if you have successfully completed the project, they will need to designate an “H” grade when entering grades for the semester
  • After grades have rolled, check to be sure that you have received an “H” for the appropriate course
  • It is the student’s responsibility to check on the receipt of their “H” grade
  • If an “H” was not recorded, contact your professor to verify you successfully completed the Honors project. If you have, ask them to complete an online Grade Change Form on your behalf

Click here to download the fillable Honors Credit Learning Agreement (HCLA)