Undertaking the Honors Program in Media, Culture, and Communication is an exciting but demanding opportunity for students with outstanding academic records and a serious intellectual curiosity about the discipline. The program prepares and guides students to pursue original, independent research under the supervision of a full-time faculty member during the senior year. Producing an honors thesis is a challenging academic experience that can reap many benefits, including close mentorship from a faculty member, the opportunity to further explore a specific intellectual question or issue that piques your curiosity, and the development of strong research, writing, and critical thinking skills that can strengthen your portfolio in graduate school or professional settings. A program of this caliber often represents the most defining and culminating experience of one's undergraduate study and can synthesize the knowledge developed over the course of the major.
Although the honors program demands the greatest amount of work during the senior year, planning should begin in the junior year. A general timeline for participation in the program is listed below.
Junior Year: Consider if participation in this program is right for you. Talk to faculty members in the department about possible topics or senior honors work that past students have produced. Review journals and recent publications in the field to gain a deeper understanding of current trends. Identify possible questions that fascinate you enough to explore over a sustained period of research and writing.
April, Junior Year: Submit an application to formally enroll in the honors program. Applications can be picked up at the front desk of the department, or downloaded directly from this website. Before submitting an application you will need to approach a faculty member with whom you'd like to work and discuss your research ideas. If the faculty member agrees to work with you, they must sign your application. You will be notified of your application approval or denial by spring registration.
Summer between Junior/Senior Years: Begin research based on input from your faculty sponsor.
Fall, Senior Year: Enroll in Honors Seminar, MCC-UE 1210, 2 credits. Taught by Professor Aurora Wallace, the Honors Seminar will introduce you to research methods and take you through the initial steps of writing your thesis.
Spring, Senior Year: Enroll in 2 credits of Independent Study with your faculty sponsor. Continue writing of thesis. Meet regularly throughout the term with faculty advisor. The instructor of the honors seminar and the faculty advisor will together evaluate the final honors thesis. Present research at spring research colloquium.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who qualifies for the Honors program?
Students with a strong academic record, genuine intellectual curiosity, and the self-discipline and commitment to undertake a sustained research project should consider this program. The minimum GPA for participation is 3.75, although, on the strong recommendation of a faculty member, a student whose GPA is slightly lower may be accepted.
What does a thesis look like?
The thesis is generally about 40 pages in length, consisting of a review of relevant literature, a discussion of your research topic and methods, and an analysis of your findings.
Why should I participate in this program?
Benefits include the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member on a regular basis which can help students at large universities to feel a closer connection to the department. Faculty advisors can also serve as references for you in future academic endeavors. Writing the thesis and undertaking sophisticated research can also develop your skills in the areas of problem solving, using libraries and other research venues, managing time and large projects, and further develop your oral and argumentation skills. You will produce a lengthy, sustained piece of academic writing that you can use as a writing sample for application to graduate school. Finally, producing a thesis can be fun when it involves delving into a topic or issue that fascinates and delights you.
Why should I not participate in this program?
The program is not for everyone. Remember, you will be a college senior, with the inevitable senioritis that affects everyone to a greater or lesser degree. You may also be involved in internships or eager to move into a new career, further distracting you from intensive and sometimes solitary research. Rest assured that graduate school is still an option for students not completing the honors program. And again, students can graduate with Latin honors based on GPA regardless of participation in this program. Only students eager to do research and write a thesis should join the honors program.
What kinds of topics have students researched in the past?
Some recent topics produced by our undergraduate honors students include: Women, Consumption and the Hummer H3; Late Night Talk Shows; Student Social Movements and the Media; Race, Identity and Cyberspace; Communist Blacklisting and Broadway; Korean Media Regulation; Latin American Press and Development; The Art of Subtitles; and The Aesthetics of Information in New Media Graffitti as Political Communication.
How do I initiate this process?
After considering if this program is right for you, discuss your topic ideas with a member of the MCC faculty.
How do I select an advisor?
You must work with a full-time faculty member. MCC faculty members present a wide range of interests, from globalization and politics in the media to the study of gaming and consumer culture. We advise reading the faculty bios on this website to help you determine who to approach with your topic idea. Professor Aurora Wallace, Director of Undergraduate Studies, can also help you identify a faculty supervisor whose expertise best matches your interests. This will be done when you formally submit your application for the Honors program in spring of Junior year.
How will honors fit in my program of study?
Honors can count toward specialization electives, or toward an appropriate field of study, based on your research topic. You will discuss this with your faculty supervisor and your academic advisor. Of course, it can also count toward unrestricted electives.
How is my work graded?
The honors thesis is graded by your faculty supervisor and the course director for the honors seminar. When both faculty members agree on a grade of A, honors in the major is noted on your transcript. Participation in the program does not guarantee graduating with honors in the major, but because of the closely supervised nature of the program and the self-selection of students who enter it, most students who begin the program successfully complete it.