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Department of Communication

Honors in the Major: Communication Studies

Honors in the Major Field provides for independent research or special study during the senior year under the supervision of a committee of three or more faculty members in the student’s major. To be eligible for Honors in the Major Field in Communication Studies, students must:

  • achieve a minimum overall GPA of “B” (3.00) for all courses at Rollins,
  • achieve a minimum overall GPA of “B+” (3.33) for all courses taken in the major at Rollins, and
  • receive endorsement of the committee for participation in the program.

Satisfactory performance on an approved thesis or individual project, an oral examination, and maintenance of the above averages qualifies a student for Honors in the Major Field, which is shown on the student’s official academic transcript.

I. Committee
Your committee must consist of at least three members, including your honors project sponsor and two additional readers. Your sponsor and at least one reader must be tenured or tenure-track members of the Communication Department. One reader may be a visiting professor or lecturer in the department. Projects with an interdisciplinary focus may include a tenured or tenure-track faculty member outside the department.

II. Course Registration
Candidates for honors in the major will typically enroll in two semesters of research/independent study (COM 498 and COM 499) for at least four hours per semester. Students must complete the second semester of honors research in their senior year. They will be assigned a grade for each semester of coursework toward the thesis.

III. The First Semester
The first semester of work should be spent defining the scope of the project, reviewing scholarship, and developing your research question(s), hypotheses (if such fits your goals) and methodology. This process will take place under the direction of your project sponsor, but your committee will review your progress at the end of the semester. Be sure to establish a clearly understood set of expectations with all members of your committee.

By the end of the first semester, students developing an honors thesis must submit to their sponsor a 10-15 page prospectus and an annotated bibliography (of approximately 20 sources). A typical prospectus would likely include:

  • a description of your argument and its conceptual stakes
  • a review of the critical scholarship on your topic and your intervention in this conversation
  • a description of research methodology (including identification of one or more research questions/hypotheses, definitions of major terms, discussion of the scope of the project, and the major theories that are applicable to this research topic)
  • a breakdown of chapters for your thesis

Students who fail to submit these materials to their sponsor will not continue with the project in the second semester. During the first semester, we also encourage students to make written progress toward their chapters, including outlines and drafts. Additional assignments should be discussed with the faculty sponsor.

IV. The Second Semester
By the end of the second semester, students working on an honors thesis should work to complete a document of roughly 50 pages in length, including an abstract, an introduction, and a "Works Cited" list, which is broken into distinct chapters or sections. The given page length is only a guideline, however, and your committee should agree upon specific expectations for the length of your project. The primary guideline for the length of this written work is that it should be of publishable quality; that is, it should be of a quality that it would allow for submission to a peer-reviewed journal in the discipline of communication studies. Furthermore, students who successfully defend their Honors in the Major thesis are strongly encouraged to submit their work to such a peer-reviewed scholarly journal.

V. Project Submission and Oral Examination
A successful Honors in the Major degrees require an oral examination. Students should schedule their oral examination, or “defense,” with the committee no later than finals week or, for Holt students, the last week of classes. You should submit your completed final project to your committee two weeks before the scheduled date of your defense.

Defense meetings will typically last one hour and will include a brief presentation by the candidate, a question and answer period, private discussion among the committee during which the candidate will be asked to leave the room, and a final discussion on the committee’s decision once the candidate returns. The award of “Honors in the Major Field” requires satisfactory completion of the oral examination.

In addition to copies for the committee, students should submit a bound copy of the thesis to the Department of Communication for our archive.