The Scholars Program

About the Program


More than a typical honors program

The Scholars Program at Benedictine University is a four-year course of study designed to enable a select number of gifted undergraduate students to develop their skills as leaders and thinkers. The program focuses on academics, leadership and service in a global context, and is distinct from Benedictine's traditional undergraduate core in the following aspects.


Rigorous Academics

Scholars Program courses (HNRS) are small seminars taught by senior faculty committed to the study of seminal works in a wide variety of liberal arts disciplines, including but not limited to history, philosophy, literature, biology and political science. Students take one Scholars course each semester, learning together over four years with the same elite group of students. The courses are discussion-based as well as reading and writing intensive. In addition to special Scholars sections of the two interdisciplinary seminars (HNRS 201 and HNRS 301 in place of IDS 201 and IDS 301), the Scholars curriculum includes unique courses focusing on leadership, artistic creativity and global interdependence.

Scholars students are required to present their academic work or research at a local, regional, or national undergraduate conference or honors conference at least once over the course of their participation in the program.

In order to reflect on their own intellectual development, analytic and research skills, and to demonstrate that they have met the essential student learning goals of the Scholars Program—including academic, leadership, service and creative achievements—Scholars students will develop and maintain an electronic portfolio. To assist them in compiling the electronic portfolio, students will select a faculty mentor and take HNRS 291 (Scholars E-Portfolio Workshop) in the fall of the junior year. In the fall of the senior year, students will defend their e-portfolio before a faculty committee, which will help determine if a student has met the program requirements and will graduate as a Benedictine Scholar, or if the student has exceeded the requirements and will graduate as a Benedictine Scholar with Distinction.


Over the course of their first two years in the program, Scholars students engage in service activities, reaching out to disadvantaged groups in the local, regional or global community.  In recent years, students have contributed to strengthening community by helping shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, and comfort the elderly, and by working for peace and social justice in DuPage County and beyond. The 40 hours of required service must be completed by the beginning of the junior year, although under exceptional circumstances, a student may petition the Director of the Scholars Program in writing for an extension of this deadline.

BenU Graduates

Language Study

To help ensure that they develop the skills necessary to participate effectively in a global context, by the time they graduate, Scholars students must demonstrate that they are able to speak, read and write a language other than English with a degree of proficiency equivalent to six semesters of college-level study. Scholars may choose to study Arabic, Chinese, or Spanish at Benedictine or to take advantage of the University's tuition-sharing agreements with Aurora University and North Central College in order to study a language not offered at Benedictine—such as German, French, or Japanese—without additional tuition expense.

Students who come to the program with proficiency in a second language may opt to demonstrate that they have met the language requirement by taking an oral and written proficiency test in that language. Students will pay a modest fee to arrange for this testing through the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). All students must demonstrate that they have met the language requirement by the end of the junior year, although under exceptional circumstances, a student may petition the Director of the Scholars Program in writing for an extension of this deadline.

Scholarships for Scholars

Scholars in good standing receive a merit-based scholarship each year. Benedictine University invests in gifted students to provide them with the resources necessary to develop as perceptive and conscientious leaders. Once a student is accepted into the program, the student's admissions counselor or the Director of the Scholars Program will advise that student of the amount of the merit scholarship for which the student is eligible.

An intensive immersion in the liberal arts tradition designed for academically gifted students, with a special emphasis on the exploration of diverse issues in literature, philosophy, world history, and more.