Media Policies & Procedures for James Scholar Students

(Last updated July 2023.)

Students have been made aware of all requirements by nature of their publication. It is each student’s responsibility to read and understand all requirements for remaining in the program and should contact their academic advisor with any questions. Regardless of whether the rules are read, a student will be charged with knowledge of them. Citing ignorance of the rules will not be considered sufficient justification for an appeal of being dropped from the program.


Students Eligible to Join Are
  • Current College of Media students who have completed less than 75 hours, are included on the spring Dean’s List, AND who have at least a 3.50 overall GPA.
  • On-campus transfer students into the College of Media, who are certified by their previous college as James Scholar.
  • The top 20% of the college’s incoming freshman class. The top 20% is based on a combination of a student’s ACT/SAT score (if submitted), high school GPA, application essays, and related involvement. Students are automatically considered for admission upon application to the University; there is no separate application.
  • Off-campus transfers with at least a 3.75 transfer GPA may request to join the program. Please speak with your academic advisor if you have questions about the process.
Additional Information about Becoming Eligible
  • Students who meet the above requirements will be invited to become James Scholar for the upcoming fall semester after summer academic review is complete. There is no self-nomination process.
  • Qualifying students may enter the program for either the sophomore or junior year but not for the senior year alone.
  • A student must have a minimum of FOUR semesters (two academic years) remaining to complete their primary degree to be invited to join the program.
    EXCEPTION: A rising senior who previously completed two years in the James Scholar program before being dismissed and then meets the requirements to rejoin the program for senior year will be invited during the summer review period. They would then need to make up an Honors activity to account for the missing year in the program. Please see "Graduating with James Scholar Distinction" below.
  • If invited to become a James Scholar, you must officially accept the offer by the date specified in your notification email.


To Remain in the James Scholar Program, Students Must
  • Maintain on-campus semester and cumulative GPAs of 3.50
  • Take a minimum of 12 GRADED credit hours each fall and spring semester on the Illinois campus
    • Illinois online courses taken as part of the traditional fall or spring term count in this total
    • Self-paced online courses such as those offered through NetMath do not count in this total
    • Winter Term and Summer courses do not count toward the 12 graded hours needed each fall and spring
  • Complete at least one Honors option/project each academic year (see "Honors or Research Coursework Options") 
    • Note, to graduate with James Scholar distinction from the College of Media, students must complete a minimum of five Honors options by the end of their final fall term at Illinois
    • Please review this full policy at the end of “Graduating with James Scholar Distinction” 
James Scholar Program Review Periods

There are two review periods each academic year to ensure that students are meeting requirements for remaining in the program:

  • End of fall term review period: Students will be reviewed for completing 12 graded credit hours, the 3.5 semester and overall GPAs
    • Those who have not met these requirements will be notified as such and dropped from the program prior to the start of the spring term
      • See the “First-Year Students” section below for an exception to this rule
  • Summer review period: Students will be reviewed for completing 12 graded credit hours in the spring, the 3.5 semester and overall GPAs, as well as the completion of at least one Honors project during the academic year
Students who are dismissed from the program during either review period must sit out from the program for at least one academic year even if they earn a spot on the College’s Spring Dean’s List in the same academic year.
  • Students cannot be readmitted into Media’s James Scholar program during the same year that they failed to meet requirements to remain in the program
All requirements must be completed in order to continue as a James Scholar for the following academic year and to receive the James Scholar notation on the academic transcript each academic year.
Additional Information for First-Year Students
  • College of Media First-Year Freshmen James Scholars will be allowed to earn a minimum GPA of 3.30 in the fall term. However, a student’s overall GPA must reach a minimum of 3.50 by the end of the spring term in order to remain in the James Scholar program for sophomore year.
  • This exception is for the First-Year Freshman year ONLY; a 3.50 term and overall GPA must be maintained in all future semesters.

PLEASE NOTE: It is each student’s responsibility to be sure that they are meeting all requirements. Students who choose to take a course Credit/No Credit must be enrolled in 12 graded credit hours at Illinois, NO EXCEPTIONS. Coursework taken at Parkland or another institution does NOT count toward the 12 graded credit hours required toward the semester or overall GPA.

Study Abroad: Remaining in the James Scholar Program while Abroad

Students who are studying abroad are exempt from credit hour and GPA requirements during the semester(s) they are abroad. Please note the following

  • Students abroad are expected to take the equivalent of full-time enrollment at their host institution
  • The Honors project requirement must be completed the semester a student is on campus, it cannot be completed while abroad. More information on completion can be found in "James Scholar Distinction at Graduation" below
  • Students who are abroad for both the fall and spring should speak with their academic advisor about options for completing the yearly Honors requirement


To Graduate with James Scholar Distinction, Students in Media's Program Must

Please note: Students continuing as James Scholars into their last year on campus will be able to graduate with College of Media James Scholar Distinction if they complete all James Scholar requirements detailed below during the FALL term of their graduation year, REGARDLESS of the student’s graduating semester (fall, spring, or summer)! Also note, students must:

  • Complete a minimum of 12 graded credit hours in their final fall term
  • Earn a minimum of a 3.5 GPA in their final fall term and maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA through the end of that term
  • Complete the last of the five required Honors projects
    • At least one Honors project must be taken in this final fall term
    • Students joining the James Scholar program during the sophomore or junior year will need to make up Honors activities in order to graduate with a minimum of five
    • All five Honors activities must be completed by the end of the fall term of the student’s graduation year. The fifth project may not be pushed into the spring term
    • A student who completes multiple activities in one year and who has reached the five activity minimum before their graduation year still MUST complete an Honors activity in each remaining year in order to be re-certified for the following academic year. Each year a student is in the program, they should be completing at least one Honors activity
      • There is not a maximum number of activities that can be completed
    • Only one Honors grade per year completed while in another college on the Illinois campus may count in this total. Even if multiple Honors options were completed in one academic year while in another college, only one per year will count toward the five required
  • The required credit hours and GPA rules are relaxed in the final spring term to allow a graduating spring or summer student the opportunity to be a part-time student
  • A student must complete a minimum of four semesters (two academic years) as a James Scholar to graduate with James Scholar distinction
  • If all conditions are not met during the fall semester, the James Scholar notation will not be included in the college’s May convocation program nor listed on the student’s transcript for the final academic year
  • Review is completed and students will be notified by mid-February if they will be listed as a James Scholar at graduation
  • If a graduating senior studies abroad in their final fall term, they may petition to complete the final Honors project in the following spring. Students in this situation may NOT complete their senior year Honors project during the previous spring term