Honors Program

The objective of the Departmental Honors Program in Communication is to provide superior students with the utmost opportunity for intensive study of communication at an advanced level.  Toward this end, the program provides participants with opportunities to deepen their understanding of the discipline through Honors, Honors Option, and graduate coursework, as well as through closely supervised research and involvement in the intellectual life of the department.

The nature of the program is outlined in what follows. In particular, the outline includes a description of admission qualifications, requirements, options, and privileges associated with participation the program.

The Honors Program

Selection of Students

Ordinarily, students’ application to the program is made during the second semester of the sophomore year or the first semester of the junior year.  Applications are filed with the Honors Director who presents them to the Honors Committee for consideration. Generally, to be considered for admission to the program, a student should possess the following qualifications:

  1. An overall grade point average of 3.3 or above.
  2. Completion of at least nine semester hours in the Communication major coursework, including COMM 250.
  3.  A grade point average of 3.5 or above in the Communication major courses.

Transfer students from accredited institutions receive equal consideration.

The academic progress of each departmental honors student will be reviewed at the end of every semester.  An honors student may be advised to withdraw from the program if his or her academic achievement and advancement in the program indicates to the Honors Committee that withdrawal is desirable. Usually, a student will be advised to withdraw from the program if his or her overall grade point average drops below 3.3 or if his or her departmental grade point average drops below 3.5. A student may voluntarily withdraw from the program at the end of any semester.  In such cases, the Honors Committee recommends to the Director of Undergraduate Studies the means by which major requirements may be satisfied by the student.

Curriculum

Within the departmental honors program, students may choose either the thesis plan of study or the non- thesis plan of study.

Thesis Plan of Study 

To complete the thesis plan of study successfully, a student must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Satisfactory completion of normal requirements for the Communication major, maintaining a departmental grade average of 3.5 or above.
  2. Satisfactory completion of two upper-level Communication Honors or Honors Option courses or seminars (300-level and above). Graduate courses (600-level or above) in the major may substitute for all or part of this requirement. [Note that to enroll in any graduate level communication course, honors students must obtain permission from the department and the Honors Director or Honors Committee. Coursework offered in satisfaction of this requirement may also be used to satisfy major elective requirements].
  3. Satisfactory completion of six semester hours of research and thesis writing including at least three semester hours of COMM 399: Honors Thesis. (Coursework offered in satisfaction of this requirement may also be used to satisfy major elective requirements).
  4. Completion of an honors thesis under the supervision of a regular member of the Communication faculty.
  5. Satisfactory oral defense of the honors thesis before a Thesis Examining Committee comprised of at least two members of the Communication faculty.

Honors Option course requirement may be satisfied by contracting with a regular faculty member in the department to pursue study which can be shown to be qualitatively beyond the normal requirements of the course.  Students may contract to do additional work or work that replaces the normal course requirements.  In either case, the work must be shown to be of Honors quality. 

Students may contract a maximum of two upper level courses (six credits) of Honors Option during their undergraduate career.  They may contract only one course per semester. 

To participate in Honors contracting, an Honors student must submit a completed Honors Option Contract provided by the University Honors Program.  The contract will describe the Honors course requirements to be completed by the student and will specify how these requirements are qualitatively beyond the normal requirements of the course. The contract must be submitted for approval to the University Honors Program by the 10th day of the class.  The student will be notified within one week of the receipt of the contract whether it has been approved or denied.  In addition to regular class attendance, students and faculty are expected to meet at least twice before the end of the semester on specified dates to discuss the Honors component of the course and to assure that the provisions of the Honors Option Contract are being fulfilled.

If a proposal is denied approval, the student may resubmit a revised proposal addressing the issues specified in "reasons for denial" section of the Notification Form.  The entire process of reconsideration must be completed by the third week of the semesterThere are no exceptions.

Graduate courses undertaken by honors students electing the thesis option should normally be chosen with a view toward preparing the student for advanced work in the subject area of the honors thesis. Accordingly, honors students are encouraged to secure the advice and assistance of a Thesis Supervisor as early as possible during their participation in the program. Thesis Supervisors are appointed by the Honors Committee   upon nomination by the honors student and consent of the faculty member. The Honors Committee also appoints all Thesis Examining Committees.

 Non-Thesis Plan of Study

To complete the non-thesis plan of study successfully, a student must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Satisfactory completion of normal requirements for the Communication major, maintaining a departmental grade average of 3.5 or above.
  2. Satisfactory completion of at least four courses (twelve or more semester hours) in Communication at the 300-level or above in the Honors and /or Honors Option, and/or graduate courses at 600-level or above. [Note that to enroll in any graduate level Communication course, honors students must obtain permission from the department and the Honors Committee. Coursework offered in satisfaction of this requirement may also be used to satisfy major elective requirements].
  3. Satisfactory performance in a three-hour written comprehensive examination in the field of communication, which is evaluated by an Examination Committee comprised of at least two members of the communication faculty.

Honors Option course requirement may be satisfied by contracting with a regular faculty member in the department to pursue study that can be shown to be qualitatively beyond the normal requirements of the course.  Students may contract to do additional work or work that replaces the normal course requirements.  In either case, the work must be shown to be of Honors quality.

Students may contract a maximum of two upper level courses (six credits) of Honors Option during their undergraduate career.  They may contract only one course per semester. 

To participate in Honors contracting, an Honors student must submit a completed Honors Option Contract provided by the University Honors Program.  The contract will describe the Honors course requirements to be completed by the student and will specify how these requirements are qualitatively beyond the normal requirements of the course. The contract must be submitted for approval to the University Honors Program by the 10th day of the class.  The student will be notified within one week of the receipt of the contract whether or not it has been approved or denied.  In addition to regular class attendance, students and faculty are expected to meet at least twice before the end of the semester on specified dates t discuss the Honors component of the course and to assure that the provisions of the Honors Option Contract are being fulfilled.

If a proposal is denied approval, the student may resubmit a revised proposal addressing the issues specified in "reasons for denial" section of the Notification Form.  The entire process of reconsideration must be completed by the third week of the semesterThere are no exceptions.

Graduate courses undertaken by honors students electing the non-thesis option should normally be chosen with a view toward advancing the students knowledge in communication.  Accordingly, honors students are encouraged to secure the advice and assistance of the Honors Director and the departmental faculty in selecting their graduate coursework.

Evaluation of Departmental Honors

Evaluation of departmental honors students is the responsibility of the Honors Committee. In the course of its evaluation of any students, the Honors Committee considers the following two main factors:

  1. The student’s overall achievement in the program—based on his or her academic record. 
  2. (2a) The student’s performance in the oral defense of an honors thesis—based on a written report of the Thesis Examining Committee or (2b) the student’s performance in the comprehensive examination –based on a written report of the Comprehensive Examination Committee.  In consequence of its evaluation, the Honors Committee designates the student as a candidate for the B.A. degree in Communication "With High Honors," "With Honors," or neither. Successful candidacy for departmental honors is indicated by appropriate announcement in the Commencement program and by citation on the candidate’s academic record, transcripts, and diploma.

Evaluation of Honors Option Courses

At the end of the semester the sponsoring faculty member will receive the Honors Option Final Report Form. As soon as possible, the faculty member should return the form indicating whether the work submitted meets the conditions of the Honors Contract and therefore should or should not receive Honors credit.  Based on this information, the Honors Program will notify the office of Records and Registration whether or not to apply the notation "Honors credit" to the transcript.

Privileges

Participants in the departmental honors program are granted the following privileges:

  1. Honors students are granted the right to use the Communication Research Center housed within the Communication Department.
  2. Honors students may undertake, with the permission of the department and the Honors Committee, any graduate course for undergraduate credit.
  3. An Honors student may register for any Honors course throughout the campus, providing permission of the department or program is granted. 

All students enrolled in departmental Honors courses are also members of the University Honors Program and as such, may register for Honors seminars offered through the general Honors Program. They are also eligible for Honors scholarships, best project awards, and participation in all Honors student activities and organizations.

How to Apply

If you are interested in becoming a part of the departmental honors program contact Dr. Leah Waks, Director of Undergraduate Studies, to set up an appointment.  Please email her at leahwaks@umd.edu with several times that you are available.