ECE James Scholar Program

Summary of ECE James Scholar Program


  • Freshman applications are reviewed holistically and no more 20 percent of the admitted class is invited to be James Scholars in the first semester of attendance.
    • To stay in the program ECE students must have a 3.5 GPA (top 25 percent).
  • To enter the program after arriving, students must have a 3.5 GPA and register - ONLY during the first two weeks of each term - at the College of Engineering portal.


  • James Scholars' ECE faculty mentors serve as their James Scholar Advisers, and help them with honors contract development.
  • Sophmores must develop an honors contract online --- See Grainger College of Engineering James Scholar Program for a description of honors contract.
    • Subject area for honor contracts is wide open -- research, advanced coursework, foreign study, archaeology, ...
    • All minors will count, except CS minors for Computer Engineering majors.
    • The 6 distinct hour requirement allows for students to creatively think about how their interests in ECE intersect with other fields and pursue these paths through coursework.


  • Freshmen take one per year of an honors course or section --- these are indicated by an "H" in the section designation in the Class Schedule.
  • Sophomores take either one honors course or section, or one course from their honors contracts during their second year on campus.
  • Freshmen and sophomores can arrange honors credit with the professor of one of their classes using an "honors credit learning agreement" that specifies the extra work required to earn “honors”. The form is available in the James Scholar Portal.
  • Submit a Semester Plan every term through the James Scholar Portal.
  • Contracts must be submitted by the end of the second year on campus (e.g. sophomores -- but not first year "sophomores" who have lots of AP credit). 
  • Scholars must take ECE 200 once per year, sophomore through senior -- the goal is to expose them to a variety of ECE topics more frequently and earlier in their careers.
  • Contracts may be modified at any time.
  • Contracts are completed over the junior and senior years.

Record Keeping and Validation

  • The Dean's Office checks GPAs in the summer and dismisses students whose GPAs are low.
  • The Honors Contract is entered by the student on .The JS Advisor also enters approval via
  • Formally, the College Honors Council must approve all contracts and acts as a coordinating body. It is unlikely it will veto anything approved by an honors adviser, but it will help by issuing guidelines as it reviews contracts.


  • Preregister first!
  • Stack pass to the main library
  • Notation on transcript

ECE Special Rules

  • Scholars must take ECE 200 once per year, sophomore through senior -- the goal is to expose them to a variety of ECE topics more frequently and earlier in their careers.
  • Oral / poster report for those doing research, at the spring ECE Undergrad Research Symposium


  • The challenge for sophomores is to envision what they can and want to do while they are still taking basic classes.
  • They should be encouraged to modify the contract as needed.

Program rules

The ECE Department strongly supports the activities of its James Scholar Students. We have a large number of faculty honors advisers whom James Scholars can consult in place of or in addition to their regularly assigned faculty mentor. Students are encouraged to do projects with ECE and other faculty regardless of whether the project supervisor is an honors adviser.

A James Scholar contract is required of second year students.  Its objectives are to help students enhance their undergraduate curriculum with unique experiences, research activities, and courses that expand beyond a conventional curriculum of an electrical engineering or computer engineering student.  These objectives can be fulfilled by choosing a formal minor from among the many options available on campus, or by planning at least 12 hours of courses representing curriculum expansion and extra experiences.  James Scholars are not required to exceed the normal credit hour requirements of a degree, but instead have the opportunity to include unusual courses in their Contract.  Students are especially encouraged to consider the Senior Thesis sequence as part of their contract.

In addition we sponsor ECE 200, the Undergraduate Seminar, which presents faculty and corporate speakers with the goal of broadening your horizons as to opportunities in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Every year the Department sponsors the Undergraduate Research Symposium which offers you the opportunity to present or hear about the activities of other honors students.

The ECE Department follows the rules of the Grainger College of Engineering James Scholar Program.

In addition, ECE James Scholars must follow these rules:

  • The minimum GPA for ECE students is 3.5 / 4.0. Procedures for applying to the program are described by the College documents.

  • Sophomores, juniors and seniors are required to complete ECE 200 in either the fall or spring semester each year. Coop and international minor students who are gone from campus will be given a grace semester to make up this requirement. This applies even if you are taking other courses labeled as honors courses ("H" in the section designation).

  • At the completion of their contract, we encourage student that performed research to make a presentation at the spring ECE Undergraduate Honors Symposium (or at special meetings of the ECE James Scholars). This will be either a poster or an oral presentation, depending on student preferences and scheduling limitations. Alternative arrangements will be made for December graduates.

  • All minors usually constitute a viable James Scholar contract. Since Computer Engineers are not permitted to take the CS minor they may not use it for their James Scholar contracts.

  • Submit a Semester Plan every term through the James Scholar Portal.