The Scholars Program

Program Requirements


“Benedictine Scholar” is an honorary designation conferred upon undergraduate students at graduation. Those so honored have, at a minimum, met each of the following seven special requirements:

Scholars students are also expected to remain in good standing within the program while progressing toward graduation.

Scholars students with questions about these requirements are encouraged to contact the Director of the Scholars Program or Scholars Program Assistant.

Student carrying books

There are eight required courses in the Scholars Program curriculum. These courses are ordinarily taken in sequence according to the following plan:

Freshman courses

HNRS 1190: First-Year Colloquium I (fall semester)
HNRS 1191: First-Year Colloquium II (spring semester)

Sophomore courses

HNRS 2195: Leadership (fall semester)
HNRS 2294: Art, Creativity, and Culture (spring semester)

Junior courses

HNRS 3291: E-Portfolio (fall semester)
HNRS 2201: Catholic and Benedictine Intellectual Traditions (spring semester)

Senior courses

HNRS 3301: Human Dignity and the Common Good (fall semester)
HNRS 2393: Global Interdependence (spring semester)

Graduation as a Scholar requires grades of "C" or better for every Scholars course in which a student enrolls.

Participation in these seminars is restricted to Scholars students, and class size rarely exceeds 20 students. Students complete most courses with the same cohort of gifted students.

Students who enter the Program as first-semester freshmen ordinarily enroll in one course per semester for eight semesters. Students who transfer into the Program ordinarily enroll in the Scholars course that corresponds to their semester of entry in the Program (e.g., first-semester sophomore = HNRS 195). Transfer students are usually not required to take “earlier” Scholars courses, so long as they have earned college credit for an equivalent course and take one Honors course each semester with the appropriate Scholars cohort. Such students may take any other Honors General Education course not already fulfilled by transfer hours.

Note: most Scholars courses correspond to the General Education Curriculum coursework required of non-Scholars. See the Scholars Program Handbook for details.

Language Proficiency

Scholars are required to demonstrate the ability to speak, read, and write a second language at a level equivalent to six semesters of college study. Proficiency can be established by passing courses at the requisite level or by earning a rating of Intermediate-Low or higher on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) examinations in both writing and oral proficiency. For information about scheduling a Proficiency Examination, contact the Scholars Program Assistant.

Over the years, many Scholars have earned major or minor degrees in Spanish and French. In doing so, they also complete the Program’s language proficiency requirement. Benedictine University students can utilize the University’s tuition-sharing arrangements with North Central College and Aurora University to take language courses not offered at Benedictine.

Notes on language proficiency:

  • Students entering as freshmen must complete the language requirement by the end of their junior year in order to remain in good standing with the Scholars Program.
  • Transfer students must be able to complete the language requirement by the end of their first semester senior year.
Mathematical Proficiency

Scholars must earn course credit for a Mathematics course at a level equivalent to or higher than one of the following:

  • MATH 111: College Trigonometry
  • MATH 115: Business Calculus
  • MATH 131: The Mathematical Universe
  • MATH 170: Introduction to Calculus I
  • MATH 210: Calculus with Analytics I
Ethics Course

Scholars must earn course credit for one of the following Philosophy courses:

  • PHIL 245: General Ethics
  • PHIL 246: General Ethics for the Bio-Ethically Minded
  • PHIL 247: General Ethics for the Business-Minded
  • PHIL 248: General Ethics for the Environmentally-Minded
  • PHIL 249: General Ethics for the Professional
  • PHIL 346: Biomedical Ethics
  • PHIL 347: Business Ethics
  • PHIL 348: Environmental Ethics
  • THEO 252/MGT 252: Business Ethics in the Context of Catholic Social Teaching

Note: not all ethics classes offered fulfill the University's General Education Curriculum QPL requirement (Philosophy). For this reason, any Scholar who registers for a non-QPL ethics class must earn a passing grade in another Philosophy course that is QPL-designated in order to satisfy this graduation requirement.

Service Learning

Scholars are required to complete 40 hours of community service—i.e., public, unremunerated charitable activity that promotes the common good—by the end of their sophomore year. In recent years, Scholars have donated their time to help the poor, the homeless, the elderly, the sick, the imprisoned, and others, throughout Chicagoland. Students will be asked to document the service they've performed and to reflect on the experience.

Notes on service learning:

  • Transfer students are required to complete an individual service-learning project by the end of their first academic year at Benedictine. Hours required are pro-rated based on incoming academic level.
  • Benedictine students not enrolled in the Scholars Program are required to complete 10 hours of community service.
Electronic Portfolio

Scholars will develop and maintain an electronic portfolio (using Desire2Learn) which will reflect their intellectual development, analytic and research skills, and their attainment of Scholars Program Essential Student Learning Goals. Scholars must determine which of their many academic and creative achievements demonstrate the various learning outcomes and must use the electronic portfolio to show how each and every Essential Student Learning Goal has been achieved. Students may choose to include coursework, papers, community service, videos, speeches, and other appropriate artifacts in their electronic portfolios. Each Scholars student will be assigned a mentor who will guide and evaluate the electronic portfolio on a regular basis. Scholars are expected to fulfill all these outcomes at the "Scholars" level.  As part of the electronic portfolio, Scholars will also be expected to publicly present a paper at Benedictine University or a regional or national Honors conference.

Good Standing

To remain in good standing within the Program, a Scholars student must maintain a cumulative GPA (grade point average) of 3.2 or higher. If a Scholars student earns a cumulative GPA lower than 3.2 in a given semester, he or she is automatically placed on Scholars Probation. Students on Scholars Probation have one semester to raise their cumulative GPA to the required level. If a student’s cumulative GPA remains lower than 3.2 for two consecutive semesters, she or he may be dismissed from the Program. In special cases, the Director may grant a Scholars student an additional semester to raise his or her GPA. Students must also complete the language requirement by the end of their junior year in order to remain in good standing with the Scholars Program.


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.