James Scholars

About the College of Education James Scholar Program

The James Scholar Program is a University-wide program established to encourage undergraduate research and independent study, involving even opportunities to work with renowned faculty.

In the College of Education, the James Scholar Program provides a rewarding educational experience for students with exceptional academic skills. James Scholars in Education are civically engaged, global citizens and leaders able to use research based decision making skills. James Scholars are creative, collaborative and think critically as they prepare to enter the workforce.

As a James Scholar, we expect you to view the world from all different perspectives and become change-agents in society. It is our hope that the honors community in the College of Education will allow you to find and discover opportunities and take risks that broaden your thinking so you leave here ready to make a difference in the field of education. Diversity is a key element of the College of Education, and we expect you to become enlightened and compassionate about current educational issues related to social, environmental and economic justice.

To this end, Education James Scholars are encouraged to develop transferable skills and academic discipline around the following themes:

Civic Engagement and Global Consciousness
Professional Development




Overview of the James Scholar Program

James Scholars have the opportunity to live in the campus Honors Living Learning Community http://www.housing.illinois.edu/living-options/living-learning-communities/honors-llc  

Incoming Freshmen will be expected to select James Scholars options in accordance with the requirements of the designated four themes in order to be eligible for cords at graduation. Two research projects are required.

Incoming transfer students are not bound to the four themed requirements - but are encouraged to participate in any options offered. Students must successfully complete a James Scholars Project in the Fall and Spring semester in order to receive James Scholar recognition. For all requirements, please see Program Details


General Projects

I. Course Related eHCLA (Repeatable Option)

James Scholars can use eHCLA’s (electronic Honors Credit Learning Agreements) in conjunction with the instructor of one of their regular classes. The project is determined by the instructor of the course. Students may also elect to use eHCLA’s to work with a professor on research projects outside the classroom. Please refer to Participating Faculty Researchers for details.

II. James Scholar Designated Honors Course/Section  

Example:  EPSY 200 (repeatable option), Honors Courses outside the College of Education or Campus Honors Program Courses (eHCLA not required).

Theme Projects

I.  Research – (2 REQUIRED)

II.  Civic Engagement and Global Consciousness – (1 Recommended)
Service Learning & Social Justice

Please consult the campus Class Schedule for availability and times.

CI 260- Serving Child in Schools/Community

ARTE 260- Museums in Action

ARTS 299- The Everyday Arts Lab (EAL)

FAA 199/499- Choreographing Leadership

LIS 418- Community Engagement

SPAN 232- Spanish in the Community

SPAN 332- Spanish and Entrepreneurship

UP 478- Community Development Workshop

CHEM 199– Undergraduate Open Seminar (only specified sections such as Sci Ed and Research for Children, Kids and Chemistry Outreach program)

EPS 390- Education & Social Justice

LINC Courses

ENG 298- Special Topics (examples include but are not limited to Lego Robotics Mentoring or Learning in Community with Don Moyer’s Boys and Girls Club).

ENG 315- Learning in Community (examples include but are not limited to Campus Middle School for Girls and the Walking School Bus Program).

ENG 398- Special Topics (examples include, but are not limited to Engineering for Social Justice Scholars Program).

Study Abroad


If participating in a spring/winter break or summer study abroad program (taken from Illinois), students can earn James Scholar credit by presenting their experience AT A SPRING SEMESTER EVENT. NOTE: James Scholar Credit must be the immediate semester but is based on the commitment to present at a spring venue.  

So, students who study abroad in the summer will earn fall James Scholar credit but it is based on their presentation in the spring and does not constitute their spring project since it counted for fall. Students interested in earning James Scholar credit for study abroad will need to create a 4-5 minute video about their educational experience and present at one of the James Scholar spring events.

Contact the College of Education Admissions and Records Officer at recordsofficer@education.illinois.edu with questions and for video and presentation details.

PLEASE NOTE: Semester long study abroad trips automatically fulfill the James Scholar requirement for the semester the student is abroad. The semester long study abroad does not require a presentation.

III.  Leadership – (1 Recommended)

Leadership Center I-Program.  Please note, students may use a total of two Leadership programs to count for James Scholar credit. If you have already attended two Leadership Center programs for James Scholar credit, please select another option.

To receive James Scholar credit, you will need to follow these steps in order:

1. Register for an I-program (ex. Intersect) through the Leadership Center website: It needs to be a program you have not previously attended.

2. Once you receive an email confirmation from the Leadership Center, please forward the email to recordsofficer@education.illinois.edu.

3. Submit the eHCLA by March 1st to indicate which program you will (or did) attend. This option is only available if you have already forwarded the email registration confirmation in step 2.

4. Once you attend the program, please submit a copy of the certificate either by email or by stopping by our main office at 142 EDUC no later than the end of the semester in which the program was attended.

To receive James Scholar credit for attending an Illinois Leadership Center program, students are expected to be an active and positive participant.

IV.  Professional Development - (HIGHLY Recommended - Student Teaching Semester only)
Create a Workshop for the Office of School and Community Experiences Professional Development Series

Work individually or with a partner (may be another teacher candidate or your cooperating teacher) to develop an interactive 45 minute workshop. This workshop will be part of a Professional Development series coordinated by the Director of School and Community Experiences.

Attend a District Professional Development Opportunity

Work with your school to identify, select and participate in a sustained/extended district-wide professional development opportunity and write a paper, create a poster presentation, brochure or technology-supported resource guide with thoughtful reflection and assessment of the program.(Example: Book Clubs, Curriculum Committees, Program Implementation/Review, Data Teams, etc.)

EDUC 102 Annual Poster Session

Create a Clinical Experiences Interactive Blog

While student teaching, create, maintain and post a blog to be used interactively with College of Education students.  Blog should contain vignettes, weekly “diary-like” entries, and/or an account of specific classroom activities and teaching techniques, followed by thoughtful reflection, assessment, and suggestions for growth and improvement when applicable. This blog is intended to support the development of teacher candidates in early stages of the professional course sequence and to highlight successful practical applications of knowledge, skills, and dispositions developed through University coursework.

Service-Learning Project

Attend an orientation workshop on service-learning programming, co-facilitated by College faculty and staff with experience and interest in service-learning in the P-12 setting and then implement a full-scale service-learning project in the student teaching classroom.  The project must adhere to recommended best practices in service-learning as an pedagogical tool in the classroom with periodic review of the various stages of project design, implementation, and evaluation.