College students can excel in different ways. Sometimes their special strengths and enthusiasms are brought to life when they find a major. Other students thrive in interdisciplinary seminars and co-curricular activities; in interactions and friendships with distinguished scholars and scientists; in adventurous and intellectually challenging experiences abroad; or independent research, leadership, and service.

Illinois offers several kinds of honors programs: support for students applying for nationally competitive scholarships; honors work in academic departments; the college-wide James Scholar honors programs; and the community of "Chancellor's Scholars" in the Campus Honors Program.

ACES James Scholars

In 1959, the University of Illinois established a James Scholar Honors Program in each of its colleges to offer undergraduate research experiences, enhanced honors coursework, and special study abroad opportunities. Detailed information about the ACES James Scholar Honors Program is available from its website.

If you’d like to apply to be an ACES James Scholar, you can fill out this application form. To be eligible, you must be a second-semester first-year student, sophomore, or first-semester junior. Current students may apply for admission to our Honors Program by the last Friday in September (for the fall semester) or the last Friday in February (for the spring semester).

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Dean’s List

Each fall and spring semester, a Dean’s List is compiled of students who met the necessary academic conditions. The Student Code (section 3-401) outlines all eligibility requirements for Dean’s List recognition.

Effective fall 2017, to be named to the Dean’s List for a given semester, an ACES student must meet the following criteria:

  • The names of eligible undergraduates who have achieved a grade point average for a given semester that places them approximately in the top 20 percent of their college will be included on a list prepared for the dean of the college. The GPA level for the Dean’s List will be set by each college and may be adjusted periodically.
  • To be eligible for Dean’s List recognition, students must complete at least 12 academic semester hours taken for a letter grade (A through F). Students with I, DFR, or missing grades will be added as soon as letter grades are resolved and eligibility can be determined.
  • Students who are registered with the Center for Wounded Veterans or with Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) who are enrolled in less than 12 but a minimum of nine graded semester hours who are in the top 20 percent of their college are also eligible. Such students must sign a release with CWV or DRES indicating their consent for consideration for Dean’s List eligibility and have submitted that consent to their home unit’s academic affairs office no later than Reading Day in the semester in which they wish to be considered for Dean’s List. These consent forms are valid only for the semester in which they are issued, and students must submit by the deadline updated consent forms for each semester in which they wish to be considered for Dean’s List.

Graduation with Honors

In ACES, honors are awarded at graduation on your diploma. The cumulative grade point averages required for each category of honors are specified as follows: Highest Honor, top 3%; High Honors, top 7%; and Honors, top 12%. Transfer students must meet the minimum cumulative grade point average for the respective honors designation for both the University of Illinois hours and cumulative hours. Please refer to the Student Code (section 3-405). For spring, summer, and fall 2022 graduation, the GPA cut-off were Highest Honors 3.95, High Honors 3.85, and Honors 3.8. These GPA cut-offs will adjust in May 2023 for the next academic year. 

Bronze Tablet

Continuous academic achievement is recognized at the University of Illinois by inscribing students’ names on the Bronze Tablets which hang in the campus library. Bronze Tablet recipients must rank in the top 3 percent of the students of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences graduating class and have at least a 3.5 (A = 4.0) cumulative grade point average for all work completed at the university through the academic term before their graduation. To be identified as a Bronze Tablet recipient, transfer students — in addition to meeting the general rules for qualification — must also have earned at least 40 semester hours at this university and have cumulative University of Illinois grade point averages as high as the lowest eligible students who completed all of their academic work on this campus.

Chancellor’s Scholars Program

The Campus Honors Program selects approximately 120 entering freshmen each fall from all University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign colleges to be Chancellor’s Scholars. In most recent years, eight to 10 students per class in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences have been selected to participate in this program. Chancellor’s Scholars are expected to take one course offered by the Campus Honors Program per semester for their first two years in the program. In the junior and senior years, students enroll in Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars. More information is available from:

Campus Honors Program
1205 W. Oregon Street
Urbana, IL 61801
(217) 244-0922

Honor Societies

Several honor societies that induct students from all academic disciplines are active at the University of Illinois. Some of the more well-known honor societies include:

Many honor societies admit candidates enrolled in ACES-related fields of study, and some of them have chapters active on the Urbana campus. ACES-specific honor societies with affiliates at the University of Illinois include, but are not limited to:

Students should consult with these organizations’ local chapter advisors to learn about membership requirements and (if eligible) obtain application materials.

For authoritative information about nationally-accredited college honor societies, please visit the Association of College Honors Societies (ACHS).