Current Students Special Programs + Honors Back to top

Special Programs + Honors

'Tis Pity She's a Whore, Illinois Theatre, March 2015, Photo by Darrell Hoemann

College is more than just performances, projects, exams, and classrooms. See the world and expand your artistic influences by setting your future in motion with an internship or an honors program.

Many formal programs in the college send students across the planet, but you should never feel constrained. Other possibilities around campus are waiting for you—or generate your own ideas for traveling and learning. Illinois Abroad and Global Exchange is a starting point for resources and ideas to broaden your view. Plan early, talk to an advisor, check with an artist you’d love to work with, and see what can happen.

Benefit from an internship with a professional in your field to deepen your involvement in classroom work and foster a network for future employment or study. Many FAA graduates land jobs with companies after enjoying an internship or meet artists they collaborate with over a lifetime.

Landscape architecture and theatre studies majors must complete an internship to earn a degree. Students in other majors can shape their own internships by choosing a faculty member, determining the number of academic credit hours, and deciding on a project (such as a final paper, a performance, a planning diagram, or a piece of art). Credit is earned in either a designated internship course (ARTD 399 or THEA 490) or an independent study with the faculty member. Discuss your options with an advisor—and bring your own ideas.

Approximately 125 Illinois students are selected for this challenging program each year. Through small and stimulating courses, a mentoring system, and informal seminars and lectures, undergraduates dive into the rigors of academic disciplines and interact with noted scholars. Get the details on this opportunity for talented and gifted students from the Campus Honors Program.

For this honor given each semester, you must complete at least 14 academic hours, taken for a letter grade, and earn a minimum GPA of 3.74. 

To be eligible for this scholastic recognition, you need a minimum of 60 credit hours at the Urbana-Champaign campus. GPAs are established each fall for the coming academic year, and generally these minimum achievements are required: 

  • Honors: 3.25 GPA and top 25 percent of the graduating department/school class
  • High honors: 3.5 GPA and top 15 percent of the graduating department/school class
  • Highest honors: 3.75 GPA and top 6 percent of the graduating department/school class

To qualify, you must have a 3.5 cumulative GPA for courses taken at the University of Illinois and rank in the top 3 percent of the graduating class. See section 3-404 of the Student Code for additional information. The names of Bronze Tablet recipients are inscribed on tablets hanging in the Main Library in recognition of continuous academic achievement.

The College of Fine and Applied Arts James Scholar Honors Program creates an opportunity for high-achieving students to develop knowledge independently under the guidance of their instructors and to learn how to work with a team of students to creatively solve real-world problems.


  • Annual opportunity to apply for funds to conduct your own research
  • Direct work with professors
  • Annual designation as a James Scholar on your transcript
  • Early registration privileges
  • Recognition at graduation


  • Complete two honors projects in two separate semesters. An honors project is a course-related activity of an extraordinary nature that is completed in addition to or instead of regular coursework. The honors credit learning agreement is available in 110 Architecture or can be downloaded as a pdf.
  • Complete two public engagement courses. Students in these courses work on teams conducting research and developing and implementing solutions for real-world problems.
  • Maintain full-time (12 semester hours) enrollment at the University of Illinois each semester the student is receiving early registration privileges.
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA ≥ 3.30.

How Do I Become a James Scholar?

Complete a self-nomination form and return it to the FAA Office of Academic Affairs, 110 Architecture, during the first two weeks of the semester.

  • Freshmen may not self-nominate before they have completed one semester of study at the University of Illinois.
  • Transfer students may self-nominate during their first semester in residence at the University of Illinois if their transfer GPA is ≥ 3.50. Transfer students who have completed one semester at the University of Illinois may apply if their cumulative (University of Illinois and transfer) GPA is ≥ 3.30.

Self-nominations will not be accepted after completion of the sophomore year.

Honors Projects

An appropriate honors project is developed by a student with an instructor for a particular class. Once an agreement on the requirements for the honors project has been reached, the student must submit the details to the FAA Office of Academic Affairs. Each student should download an honors credit learning agreement (HCLA) or pick one up in the FAA Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs and return the completed form before the fourth week of classes.

Students will not receive early registration privileges until they have successfully completed one HCLA.

Public Engagement Courses

The following courses have been approved as public engagement courses. Not all courses are offered every semester.

  • AHS 365 (Civic Engagement in Wellness)
  • ARTE 260 (Museums in Action)
  • ARTE 475 (Art Museum Exhibition Practice)
  • ENG 315 (Learning in Community)
  • FAA 391 (Action Research Seminar)
  • LIS 418 (Community Education)
  • MUS 199, section SCH
  • SPAN 232 (Intensive Spoken Spanish)
  • SPAN 332 (Spanish and Entrepreneurship)
  • UP 448 (Environmental Planning Workshop)
  • UP 455 (Economic Development Workshop)
  • UP 456 (Sustainable Planning Workshop)
  • UP 478 (Community Development Workshop)

Students admitted to the program before fall 2013 should follow the previous guidelines.