James Scholar Program for Independent Study

Selected students will be provided the opportunity to participate in the James Scholar program, an honors program in research at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford. Highly qualified students may individualize their medical education to fit their unique talents and interests.

Outstanding students are encouraged to expand their intellectual curiosity, take self-direction in learning and support their pursuit of a research project in an area of interest in medicine. James Scholars must meet stringent entrance criteria, demonstrate increased academic rigor and complete a research project. In return, they enjoy privileges to facilitate their medical education, including priority in scheduling, a budget for project expenses, travel awards, special seminars and a partnership with a faculty research mentor.

Completion of the James Scholar program is a significant achievement that is recognized at graduation and noted on the transcript.

Criteria for Admission

  •  Academic Excellence: Applicants must be in the upper third of the entering M2 class.
  •  Independence: Applicants must have special talents and a high level of maturity. They must demonstrate a strong desire to pursue a research program within the guidelines of the James Scholar Program.
  •  Research Project: Applicants must present the outline of a research study that illustrates the applicant’s intellectual curiosity, as well as the applicant’s ability to synthesize and present a project. Their projects must be original work that can be accomplished by the middle of their fourth year of study. The applicants may have to possess specialized technical expertise for certain projects.
  • Application Timeline: Qualified students are identified early in the M2 year and invited to submit a “notice of intent” to participate early in the fall. A full application, including a proposal for a research project, is due in the fall/winter of the M2 year. Applicants are interviewed and evaluated by the James Scholar Committee, which may grant conditional acceptance into the program. Full acceptance is awarded at the end of the M2 year, dependent on continued academic excellence and project progress. A very limited number of M3 students may be admitted to the program.

James Scholar Program Handbook

Click here for the James Scholar Program Handbook

Philosophy of an Honors Program

The aim of an honors program is to challenge the best students to the limits of their capacity by matching them with experienced faculty who share their interests. Encouragement and opportunity are needed to assure that the brightest students will be challenged during their education in becoming competent physicians.

Philosophy of an Independent Study Program

Independent study allows the medical student the freedom to tailor their curriculum to their special needs, goals, desires or interests. It promotes the qualities of intellectual independence, self-motivation and scholarship and allows utilization of the widest range of possible resources.

One consequence may be the reduction of formal instruction in order to increase time available for self-directed study. Independent study offers the opportunity for unusually creative, imaginative and willing students to deviate from the standard path and pace of instruction; to develop a learning strategy that best suits the student’s educational and research goals and interests.

This does not mean absence of all parameters and guidelines, but rather provides a means of liberation from the limitations imposed by a structured curriculum and an increased opportunity for self-directed learning. It attracts and supports students who learn best when goals and methods are self-derived.

For more information contact:

Office of Research Support Services
tel. 815.395.5603