The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Applying to the Jefferson Scholars Program


Applications for incoming freshmen: The application process opens each year in February, with the priority application deadline in early April and a final deadline of May 1. Priority applicants will hear back in mid-late April and other in early May.  

Applications for Currently Enrolled Students: Current students may apply at any time by emailing the CTI address  at Please include your name, EID, major, any honors programs in which you are enrolled, and a paragraph expressing your interest in the program. Please also send a copy of your current grade report; an unofficial one is fine. Applications will be evaluated on the basis of your statement and academic record.



Q: Who is eligible to apply?

A: All admitted freshmen and current UT students are eligible. You do not need to be in the College of Liberal Arts; we are in fact especially happy to get applications from students who want a serious liberal education while majoring in a program outside Liberal Arts. Nor do you need to be in an honors program, although it’s fine if you are in one (or even two) of them. You are welcome to apply even if you have not yet decided whether you will be attending UT.

Although most students are admitted to JSP as entering freshmen, a few spaces are also available for current students who are pursuing the Certificate in Core Texts and Ideas and who have at least a 3.5 GPA.

Q: I have AP credits that satisfy some UT core requirements. Can I still use them if I am in the Jefferson Scholars Program?

A: Yes, UT students are generally able to use most of their AP credit towards their degree, and the JSP program is very flexible in giving you different ways to use JSP courses to meet the core requirements you need. Your Academic Advisor will work with you to ensure that you are able to satisfy all the requirements of the UT core, your major(s), and the JSP program without repeating work you have already done.

Q: Does the Jefferson Scholars Program include a stipend?

A: No. Although we do offer book prizes for top students and a student activity fund, we regret that we do not have scholarship funds to help even highly deserving applicants with financial need.

Q: I am in a demanding pre-professional program or am planning to double major. How will I fit it all in?

A: The Jefferson Scholars Program has been carefully designed to work for students in every major as well as for those pursuing two majors. While we encourage those who can to take two JSP courses at a time for the first three semesters, the program may be completed at whatever pace works best for you.

Q: How does JSP differ from Plan II and LAH?

A: All three are rigorous, selective, interdisciplinary programs. You can complete JSP concurrently with either Plan II or LAH. Plan II is a whole education in itself, comprising half or more of students’ UT coursework and including courses in languages, the humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and natural sciences. LAH is a flexible program for students wishing to focus intensively in the humanities or social sciences, offering honors courses in many subjects representing many scholarly approaches. JSP draws top students from across the university and its courses all explore fundamental questions through the close reading of great texts. Hence it can serve as an excellent complement to either of these as well as to any of the University’s other honors programs.

Q: How will the Jefferson Scholars Program work for Plan II students?

A: Students enrolled in both programs can use JSP courses to satisfy Plan II requirements in US history, fine arts, and US Government. The Jefferson Scholars Program supplements the Plan II curriculum with additional courses on ancient Greece, religion, and political philosophy.

Q: Can I do JSP in addition to both Plan II and another major, such as Engineering or BHP?

A: This is often possible, especially if you have AP credits. You will need to use three electives for the JSP courses that do not count towards Plan II.

Q: How will the Jefferson Scholars Program work for LAH students?

A: Students enrolled in both programs can use JSP courses to meet UT core and potentially also some major requirements. Because LAH has its own intensive writing courses in the fall of the first year, entering JSP-LAH students will typically begin with just one JSP course in the first semester.

Q: How will the Jefferson Scholars Program work for science students in the Freshman Research Program?

A: Because FRP has its own signature course, we will help you put together a program of JSP courses that does not include a signature course.

Q: Can I take the same courses even if I’m not in JSP?

A: Yes, every course included in JSP is also offered in sections that are open to everyone, and students wishing to earn the Certificate in Core Texts and Ideas can take the six courses in the program at any time and in any order. The advantage of joining JSP as a freshman is that you'll have small sections of these courses reserved just for you; you’ll lay a great foundation for the rest of your education; and you’ll be part of a learning community that extends beyond the classroom to include special lectures, lunches with professors, and cultural and social events. When friendships form around interesting courses and when conversations begun in class continue outside class, then an education begins to change who you are, if you allow it to.

Q: Whom can I contact with further questions?

A: Jefferson Center Assistant Director Erik Dempsey will be more than happy to answer any other questions you may have by email or phone and also to meet with you if you are visiting campus.