Scholars Academy

Take on the challenge of a higher-level academic experience while at Lewis.

Lewis’ Honors Program provides exclusive intellectual opportunities for academically gifted undergraduate students.

Benefits of Joining the Scholars Academy

  • Exclusive scholars-only academic opportunities
  • Meet other intellectually-minded students through scholars-only classes
  • Develop valuable faculty-mentor relationships and letters of recommendation
  • Increase your marketability with special diploma and transcript distinctions
  • Special recognition at college awards event and graduation ceremonies

Program Outcomes

  • Improved written communication skills
  • Improved oral communication skills
  • Improved ability to analyze, synthesize and understand scholarly work
  • Improved understanding of how scholars think about problems, formulate hypotheses, research those problems and draw conclusions about them to produce an original work
  • Improved ability to think critically and independently, demonstrating the ability to use knowledge and logic when discussing an issue or idea while considering the consequences of your ideas for yourself and the value of your ideas as vehicles of service to others

Guiding Pillars

The Scholars Academy is guided by the University Mission and by its four pillars:

  • Pillar I: Inquiry: The Scholar engages in individual and collaborative inquiry.
  • Pillar II: Integration: The Scholar integrates inquiry across disciplines with career preparation.
  • Pillar III: Dialogue: The Scholar shares inquiry within a community of learners.
  • Pillar IV: Service: The Scholar serves the community through inquiry.

Scholars Academy Program Requirements

6 Classroom Learning Experiences, including:
  • 5 Honors Courses or Contracts
  • 1 Capstone (a final project in your major)
8 Classroom Learning Experiences, including:
  • 7 Honors Courses or contracts
  • 1 Capstone (a final project in your major)
30 Units of Activity Credit 55 Units of Activity Credit
1 High-Impact Scholarly Experience, for example:
  • Conference presentation
  • Community Engaged Learning
  • Study Abroad
1 High-Impact Scholarly Experience, for example:
  • Conference presentation
  • Community Engaged Learning
  • Study Abroad

Note: The General Education requirements may be met by Contracts and/or Connections courses.

Requirement Descriptions

Classroom Learning Experience Examples

General Education Courses

  • These scholars-only courses offer elevated classroom discussion and an enriched academic experience.  The honors components are built into the course.  Students achieving a grade of “C” or higher earn credit for one honors classroom experience.

 “Connections” Courses

  • These block courses connect content between at least two courses from multiple disciplines within a flexible class format, satisfying two of your general education requirements while engaging exclusively with other honors students. The honors components are built into the course.  Students achieving a grade of “C” or higher earn credit for each honors lecture classroom experience (note: labs associated with a lecture do not earn additional credits).


  • These special one-on-one projects can be completed with a faculty member of choice over the span of a semester, resulting in either a formal academic paper, poster presentation, performance, peer-teaching experience or other enriched project outcome.

Activity Credit
Take advantage of exclusive and extracurricular learning on- and off-campus.

  • Earn points for Lewis University Arts & Ideas events, featuring presentations by Lewis faculty, outside speakers, and performances by the Music and Theatre departments.
  • On-campus seminars investigate stimulating ideas like creativity or topical issues like social media’s impact on University life.
  • Attend off-campus plays, concerts or other scholarly presentations.
  •  “City-as-Text” experiences focus on the cultural and social variety of the Chicago region. Learn about Chicago’s rich architectural history and explore its fascinating neighborhoods. Attend exhibits such as the Toulouse-Lautrec show at the Art Institute. Or be thrilled by a performance at Steppenwolf Theatre.

High-Impact Experience

  • Present your work at professional and other regional meetings including the Honors Council of the Illinois Region and the National Collegiate Honors Council. This will allow you to meet and share your work with other honors students across the state and nation.
  • Service-outreach, service learning and study-abroad experiences provide additional high-impact experience opportunities

Note: Scholars should complete at least one in-classroom and one out-of-classroom learning experience each semester to satisfactorily show progress toward the program requirements.

Program Admission Requirements

Incoming Freshmen

  • High School GPA of 3.5 or higher
Transfer Students
  • Transfer GPA of 3.5 or higher
  • May or may not have participated in an honors program or group at previous institution

Current Lewis Students

  • GPA of 3.5 or higher

Note: There may be timing considerations depending on a transfer student’s ability to complete the program in their time left at Lewis. It is generally advisable you have at least four semesters remaining at Lewis if you hope to complete the program.

Continuing Eligibility Requirements

Once admitted into the program, you remain a member if you maintain a 3.50 GPA and make satisfactory progress toward the completion of program requirements. Scholars should complete at least one in-classroom and one out-of-classroom learning experience each semester to satisfactorily progress toward the program requirements. You must schedule one meeting per year with the Director of the program, along with a graduation exit interview.

How to Apply

Entrance into the honors program is easy. Any student meeting the admissions requirements above may contact the Scholars Academy director to indicate that they would like to participate in the honors program.

Note: Make sure your name, Student ID, major and campus or home address appear in the email.

You may submit this information at any time, either through email or conventional mail to the Scholars Academy Director.   All submissions will be evaluated and prospective participants will be notified of the status of their application upon completion of the review.  Transfer students or students considering admission to the program after the first semester at Lewis should consider the timing recommendations noted in the admissions standards above.

Dr. Jennifer Tello Buntin
Director, Scholars Academy
Lewis University #1193
One University Parkway
Romeoville, IL 60446
(815) 588-7087

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can I be successful in the Scholars Academy while working?
Yes. Most scholars work on- or off-campus. Scholars manage their time to create the education they want and deserve. Peer support from other scholars is a helpful resource for effective time management.

Can I be successful in the Scholars Academy and still play a sport?
Yes. Many scholars are involved in athletics at Lewis at either the NCAA or club level. The flexibility of the program provides opportunities for athletes to participate, especially in non-sport semesters.

I’m nervous putting too much on my plate my first semester at Lewis?
You may begin participating in the Academy during any semester in your first or second year. Many students find they can get started in the program by the second semester of their first year, once they have adjusted to academic life.

How much flexibility do I have in choosing the curriculum?
Within the program framework, you can customize your curriculum to fit your interests and work schedule. Your General Education requirements are enriched versions of the courses you would take as a traditional student.

Will participating in the Scholars Academy affect my GPA?
Grades for course contracts are separate projects that do not affect our overall GPA. Grades for Connections courses are factored into your GPA.

Do instructors in my major offer Scholars contracts?
Yes. Faculty members from all majors participate in the program.