Undergraduate Honors Program

The application deadline is May 15 by 5 p.m. Later submissions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please email Valerie Manusov at manusov@uw.edu for more information.

The Department of Communication provides an opportunity for advanced undergraduate study and research in communication. Entry into the program is competitive, with no more than 10 students accepted most years.

Participation in the honors program offers challenging and rewarding intellectual experiences that extend well beyond typical undergraduate courses. The honors program requires students to engage in rigorous study of a significant communication research question that culminates in an honors thesis. Though students in the honors program typically write their theses independently, they take a seminar together in the autumn quarter on communication scholarship, in which the students get to know one another and are exposed to a range of theoretical, conceptual, and methodological interests. They complete a first draft of their study proposal in this class, with extensive feedback from the faculty and other honors students.

Admission to the program

Students apply for the program only if a faculty member agrees to nominate the student for admission. In nominating a student, a faculty member commits to serving as this student’s advisor for his/her thesis. Additional admissions criteria are as follows:

  • In order to achieve departmental honors, students need to graduate with a minimum GPA of 3.3 (per UW policy on graduating with departmental honors); As such, current GPA is considered in applications.
  • At least junior standing (90 credits) by the quarter in which the student applies to the program.
  • A clear project idea: The student may choose a different project over the course of the summer and autumn term.
  • A strong writing sample that shows evidence of the ability to conduct reviews of research literature and/or engage in primary research from any tradition that is part of the field of Communication. The sample paper can come from any college class the applicant has taken.
  • Students must find an adviser from the faculty in the Department of Communication who is willing to serve in that role. The adviser cannot be a graduate student nor a faculty member who is not from Communication (adjunct faculty in our department CAN serve in this role).

Applications should be submitted electronically to Troy Bonnes at tbonnes@uw.edu.

Honors coursework

Students begin the honors program in the fall quarter by enrolling in COM 496 (Honors Seminar), a 5-credit course that focuses on the process of research conceptualization. Students work on their projects, both individually and in classroom discussion. Students also read scholarly writings that help them move through the stages of conceptualization and explication. Thereafter, students take 10 credits of COM 497 (Honors Thesis) over the course of two quarters (5 credits each quarter), supervised by their individual faculty advisors. Com 497 is only offered as a CR/NC course. Development and completion of an honors thesis is demanding work.

Both the honors seminar and thesis credits can count toward the requirements for the Communication degree: the seminar satisfies the Methods requirement, and thesis credits count under the Electives requirement. These courses also can contribute toward the upper-division credit requirements.

Public presentation of research

Honors students are encouraged to submit their research projects for presentation in the University of Washington’s Undergraduate Research Symposium, held annually in May. This public event includes both a poster room, where students provide graphic summaries of their findings, and topical panels, in which students from different departments present the findings of related research projects.

Check out some photos from the 2019 honors poster session.