Three female students outside smiling

Recognizing the talents of academically outstanding students

Since the 1950s, the University of Illinois has encouraged outstanding undergraduate students by offering participation in the Edmund James Scholar Program. Each college has a James Scholar undergraduate honors program. The programs are named for the fourth president of the University of Illinois, Edmund J. James. He believed scholarship and research are fundamental to human progress, and in the years of his presidency (1904 – 1920), he brought world-class scholars and researchers to the campus, developed many new graduate programs, and fostered a sense of community among faculty and students. His achievements helped to transform the University of Illinois into a campus of international importance. 


Who can be a James Scholar?

There are several ways to become a James Scholar in Gies College of Business
Incoming First-Year Students

High-achieving prospective first-year students admitted to Gies will be invited to complete the honors application, which includes essay questions and a video interview. Students are reviewed on criteria including academic achievement, involvement, leadership, and a desire to help others. The top applicants will become James Scholars at Gies Business.

Rising Sophomores

At the conclusion of the spring semester, the top 5% of first-year students who were not admitted to the university as James Scholars, including students entering Gies via intercollegiate transfer, will be identified based upon cumulative Illinois GPA. Over the summer, these students will be invited to apply to the James Scholar Program by completing a short application. Juniors and Seniors are not eligible for entry into the James Scholar Program.

Inter-Collegiate Transfers (ICT)

Students who transfer to Gies and are a certified James Scholar in their originating college will maintain their James Scholar Status. 

Off-Campus Transfers (OCT)

Students who transfer to Gies from another institution will be extended an invitation to the James Scholar program upon certifying membership of an honors program at their originating institution. 

James Scholar Program Benefits

  • Priority early registration
  • Exclusive spring break study abroad opportunities
  • Academic advising
  • Access to honors sections of courses with smaller class sizes
  • Sleeman Leadership Institute for first-year students
  • Social and professional development events
  • Peer mentorship program

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