Department of Communication
270 UCB, Hellems 96
Boulder, CO 80309
303-492-7306
303-492-8411 (fax)

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Graduating with Honors in Communication

Honors offers students a chance to enrich their learning experience and focus their learning efforts by completing a thesis project that reflects their interests and goals. The honors program is an excellent way for students to build connections with faculty and with other academically-focused students.

Why pursue honors?

Students pursuing honors take ownership of their learning experience by completing an honors thesis project. The honors thesis project is a research project designed and completed by the students with the assistance of a faculty advisor that explores a communication process or problem in-depth and that helps the student gain expertise in communication research. Thesis projects can be more academic in nature, focusing on communication processes, or they can be more applied in nature with an emphasis on understanding a communication problem in a specific context (like organizations) or in society.

Students earn course credit as they pursue a thesis. They also build a strong relationship with their faculty advisor and with other students pursuing honors. These connections help to make learning more personal, and the thesis project represents evidence of the ability of students to work more independently and complete a project across their senior year. These individualized and sustained learning experiences are excellent preparation for students planning to pursue graduate or professional school or seeking employment in areas where evidence of individual initiative and self-direction are needed.   The connection students build while pursuing honors build a network of faculty and students who know their work and can support their efforts beyond the undergraduate degree. Additionally, graduation with Honors is a special distinction recognized by the university in a number of ways, including through a designation on the diploma and a special Honors Graduation ceremony.

What is the honors thesis?

The honors thesis involves original research you have conducted with the guidance of a faculty advisor. Completing a thesis involves conceptualizing a communication issue that needs to be investigated and conducting a study that explores the issue. This means that you are reading extensively about an issue and developing a project that explores the issue. The thesis is an opportunity for you to study an issue of real interest to you, and it can be a good way to develop research skills useful for graduate school or to explore communication in an organizational setting that where you might pursue employment. Completion of the honors thesis typically takes two semesters.

Some examples of honors thesis projects completed by prior students include:

  • An analysis of adolescents’ experience of communication while living in two households after divorce
  • How organizations manage communication with one-time volunteers and connections with potential volunteers via social media
  • Examination of the rhetorical role of poetry in the feminist movement

Can I earn credit for completing the honors thesis?

Yes. You can earn up to 7 hours of credit while working on the honors thesis. You can take COMM 4100 (which counts as a senior seminar) in the fall of your sr. year. You may also be eligible to take Sr. Thesis Writing (COMM 4950) hours as way to help you complete your thesis. (Enrollment in COMM 4950 requires approval of your thesis advisor and the honors coordinator. These hours count as upper division elective credit.)

Requirements for graduation with departmental honors:

  • 3.3 or higher cumulative GPA and a GPA 3.5 in COMM coursework. (*Students whose GPA is above 3.0 but below these requirements should talk with the honors coordinator about their interest in honors.)
  • Completion of a thesis which involves original research you have conducted (with the guidance of a faculty advisor).
  • Successful completion of a thesis defense. This is a meeting with your honors committee (your thesis advisor and two other faculty members) in which you present your study and answer questions about it.

Who can I talk to about the honors program?

Professor Cindy White is the honors program coordinator for Communication. You can email her at cindy.white@colorado.edu; she’d be happy to talk with you about the program and your interests.