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Washington and Lee University

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Honors

Honors in Journalism and Mass Communications

GENERAL GUIDELINES: The University catalog section on "Honors in the major" provides an excellent overview of the standards and procedures for honors work in all undergraduate disciplines. The following are additional specifics on Honors in Journalism and Mass Communications.

ELIGIBILITY: Candidates for Honors in Journalism and Mass Communications must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 and complete six credits of work during the senior year in Jour 493 (3-3)-Honors Thesis.

PROCEDURE: During May of the junior year, a candidate for Honors in Journalism and Mass Communications, in consultation with the department head, will enter an agreement with a faculty member who will become the honors supervisor. During the first week of the fall term, the candidate, the honors supervisor and the department head will name the honors committee (upon consent of faculty members asked to serve). That committee will consist of the honors supervisor, at least two other members of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications faculty and usually one or more faculty members from other departments in the University (so long as a majority of the committee members are from Journalism and Mass Communications).

During the first two weeks of the fall term, the candidate will submit the final version of the thesis prospectus as approved by the honors supervisor. The prospectus will ordinarily include:

  • statement or description of the issue or problem to be addressed
  • a preliminary survey of existing literature/scholarship on the subject
  • the hypothesis or research question the thesis proposes to prove or answer
  • outline of the research method to be used to test the hypothesis or address the question posed for the project
  • an annotated bibliography of some of the essential sources

The candidate will appear before the committee to explain and defend the prospectus. The purpose of the meeting will be to assess the importance and feasibility of the proposed project and the ability of the student to complete it. If the committee does not approve the prospectus, the candidate may continue the project as directed individual study by dropping Jour 493 and enrolling in Jour 403, or abandon the project altogether. If the student chooses to continue the project as directed individual study in Jour 403, and if the supervising faculty member finds the candidate's work to be of deserving quality, the candidate's honors committee may choose to readmit the candidate into Jour 493 to continue pursuit of honors in journalism. When the committee does approve a prospectus, the final version will be circulated to all faculty members of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.

RESEARCH AND WRITING: The candidate and the honors supervisor will establish a schedule for completion of all work including deadlines for bibliographies, drafts or revisions (print or electronic) as individual projects require and as members of the honors committee determine. Throughout the entire time of research and writing, the candidate will work under the close supervision of the honors supervisor. The honors committee will meet with the candidate at regular intervals in order to monitor progress and to offer guidance.

Candidates who have met the deadlines and whose work has been judged by the honors committee to be satisfactory will receive a grade of WIP (Work In Progress) for the fall term and may enroll for a second term of Jour 493 in the winter term. Candidates who have not met deadlines or whose work has been judged inadequate, will have their Honors thesis terminated and will receive appropriate credit under directed individual study for work successfully completed (as determined by the honors supervisor).

DEFENDING AND GRADING: During the first week of the spring term the candidate will provide all members of the honors committee and all members of the faculty of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications with a copy of the finished thesis. If the project includes an electronic production, only one copy of the video is required, but accompanying print text will be distributed to all faculty. The department head will schedule a public defense of the thesis to be attended by all members of the honors committee and by all faculty members in Journalism and Mass Communications who can reasonably do so. The candidate will defend the thesis and respond to questions posed by members of the committee and faculty. Journalism and Mass Communications majors will be encouraged to attend the defense.

At the conclusion of the defense, the honors committee and all Journalism and Mass Communications faculty present will meet to decide whether to award departmental honors and to advise the honors supervisor about the grade that should be given for credits earned in Jour 493. In awarding honors and assigning a grade, the faculty will consider both the written/electronic thesis and its oral defense.