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Honors Program

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The Program: The Honors Thesis Program offers qualified students an opportunity to conduct independent communication research and to write an honors thesis reporting their results. The program provides for close contact between students and thesis advisors so that students can receive intensive guidance and assistance throughout their research and writing. The aim is to help students go through the process of conceptualization, study planning, data collection, analysis and writing, which is essential to excellence in scholarship.

Eligibility: Each student should submit an application for the program no later than the last day of classes of spring quarter of the junior year and have a GPA of 3.3 in Communication courses. The Honors Thesis Program is based on the assumption that useful research and writing take time and effort and thus will be ongoing for the three quarters of the senior year. Students should be aware that no faculty member can effectively supervise more than a few theses each year. Normally, the thesis advisor will be a faculty member with whom the student has already taken a course.

Requirements: Students wishing to participate in the Honors Thesis Program must be majoring in Communication and must have completed the core requirements (COMM 1, 106, 108, STATS 60) and received a grade of B+ or better in Communication Research Methods (COMM 106). A thesis advisor may deem other courses as necessary.

Writing Consultation Services: The Hume Center for Writing and Speaking provides many resources to help you with Honors projects. Honors Thesis Boot Camps are offered during the summer and academic year. Students can seek individual consultation with them about clarifying argument and thesis, framing research, improving transitions, providing revising strategies and other writing issues. Their writing consultants also work with students on scheduling and planning, how to stay motivated, overcoming writer’s block, outlining and organizing sections of a thesis, and assessing a writing schedule for the honors thesis.

FundingAcademic Advising Student Grants support rigorous, independent projects in all disciplines. Two important sources of funding that you may want to apply for are:

Major Grants

Major Grants provide $7500, with a need-based supplement (of up to $1500) for eligible students. Most Major Grants are awarded to students beginning an honors thesis, a senior project in the arts, or senior synthesis project between their junior and senior years.

Small Grants

Small grants of up to $1,500 support smaller independent projects and can also be used to enable particular phases of larger-scale effort. Applications deadlines are found throughout the year, making the Small Grant especially flexible.

Honors Thesis Credit: Students admitted to the program will earn five units of honors thesis credit for a total of three quarters. Students are expected to make steady progress on their honors thesis throughout the year. An ‘N’ grade must be entered in Axess by the thesis advisor at the end of each of the first two quarters, indicating that this is continuing work and that the final grade (posted in spring) will be a letter grade. The honors work may be used to fulfill Communication elective credit. Honors in Communication cannot be awarded retroactively. A student failing to fulfill all honors requirements may still receive independent study credit for work completed which can be applied toward fulfilling major elective requirements. Failure to submit a satisfactory draft of the thesis during fall quarter will result in the student being dropped from the honors program.

Submitting Your Honors Thesis: A final copy of the paper must be submitted to the thesis advisor for review and grading and an electronic copy uploaded to the Stanford Digital Repository by the end of the eighth week of Spring Quarter of the student’s senior year.

Graduation with Honors: The designation graduation with honors is awarded by the Department of Communication to those graduating seniors who, in addition to having completed all requirements for the Communication major, also achieve the following:

  1. Successfully complete an Honors Thesis (B+ or better)
  2. Maintain a distinguished grade average in all Communication course work
  3. Are recommended by the Communication faculty

This distinction will be noted on the student’s diploma and during the department graduation ceremonies.

Honors Application Form

Choosing A Faculty Honors Advisor

Tips for Honors Students by Honors Students

2023-24 Honor Students

Madeline Bernheim

Consumers are increasingly prioritizing the eco-friendliness of the products they purchase. Madeline’s honors thesis will take a deep dive into the world of eco-conscious marketing. She will examine the various greenwashing tactics companies and brands use to appear more environmentally friendly to consumers. Her research will combine real-world insights with a review of relevant literature, offering a clearer understanding of how to spot genuine eco-friendly products amidst the marketing noise. Thesis Advisor: James Hamilton

Emma Talley

Emma Talley will be working to identify suicide clusters in college populations and examine media influence on suicidal and self-injurious behaviors. She will be working with data provided by The Healthy Minds Network. For 15 years, the network has administered the Healthy Minds Study (HMS), a population-level survey of post-secondary student mental health, collecting over 740,000 responses from students at more than 530 colleges and universities. Media-influenced suicide contagion is a well-documented phenomenon, referring to the idea that more dramatic headlines and more prominently placed stories are associated with greater increases in subsequent suicide rates. The risk of contagion is particularly salient in college populations, where suicide is the second-leading cause of death. Thesis Advisor: Nilam Ram

Honors Theses

Previous Honors Theses are available for review in Room 110A in Bldg. 120. Examples of some recent theses include:

  • The Effects of Sample Size on Significance Testing
    Diana Jordan, 2022, Thesis Advisor: Jon Krosnick
  • Homeworking in Italy during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Analysis of Preliminary European Labour Force Survey Results
    Caroline Ghisolfi, 2021, Thesis Advisor: James Hamilton
  • Film Franchise Strategy in the Age of Intellectual Property
    Walker Brown, 2019, Thesis Advisor: James Hamilton
  • Leadership During Conflict: Where Charismatic Leadership Falls Short
    Pascale Eenkema van Dijk, 2019, Thesis Advisor: Jen Pan
  • Discourse and Deceit: Native Advertising, Influencer Marketing, and the Increasing Corrosion of Public Trust
    Minkee Sohn, 2017, Thesis Advisor: Ted Glasser
  • Heavy Rotation: Japanese Female Idols & Fantasy Image Commodities in the Post-Feminist Age
    Alejandra Reynoso, 2016, Thesis Advisors: Fred Turner & Miyako Inoue
  • Televisa Presenta: Analyzing the cultural resonance of a contemporary Mexican telenovela
    Ileana E. Najarro, 2015, Thesis Advisors: Ted Glasser & Guadalupe Valdés
  • Transmedia and the Spectator: How Disney Represents Interactivity, Star Images and Contingency for Audiences
    Sophia Vo, 2014, Thesis Advisors: Fred Turner & Carol Vernallis
  • Virtual Superheroes: Using Superpowers in Virtual Reality to Encourage Prosocial Behavior
    Shawnee Baughman, 2012, Thesis Advisor: Jeremy Bailenson
  • What Might it Mean to be Human: A Glimpse of the Future Through Battlestar Galactica
    Sydney Burlison, 2012, Thesis Advisor: Fred Turner
  • Influencing Environmental Negotiation Through Immersive Social Perspective Taking
    Alyssa Green, 2012, Thesis Advisor: Jeremy Bailenson
  • Ethnic Tweaking of the Windows to the Soul: The Role of Media in Shaping the Beauty Perception of Korean Women
    Christine J. Park, 2011, Thesis Advisor: Fred Turner
  • Human Centric System Design: An Analysis of How Collaborative System Design Dicates Innovation and Productivity in Modern Economies and How to Seamlessly Leverage Future Technologies with the Human Condition
    Steven Duplinsky, 2010, Thesis Advisor: Byron Reeves
  • Justice at 24 Frames a Second: The Power and Persuasiveness of Victim Impact and Mitigation Videos
    Charlie Mintz, 2010, Thesis Advisors: Glenn Frankel & Fred Turner
  • Multi-Dimensional Design Strategies for Web Recommender Systems: How Grouping Approaches for Generating Product Recommendations Affect User Responses
    Paloma Ochi (Firestone Award Recipient), 2010, Thesis Advisor: Cliff Nass
  • Mixed Emotions: Emotional Juxtaposition in Online Advertising
    Alison Johnston, 2009, Thesis Advisor: Cliff Nass
  • The Portrayal of Africa in the Western Media and its Effects on College-Aged Youth of African-descent Living in the United States
    Kamila McDonald, 2009, Thesis Advisors: Fred Turner & Prudence Carter
  • The News Media in Nicaragua and Their Role in Democratic Development
    Amy Bonilla, 2008, Thesis Advisors: Shanto Iyengar & William Ratliff
  • S.tiches O.f the S.ahara: An Exploration Into the Non-profit Business 
    Allison Brian, 2008, Thesis Advisor: Cliff Nass
  • Multi-Media Minds: Cognitive Control in Media Multitaskers 
    Eyal Ophir, 2008, Thesis Advisor: Cliff Nass
  • Bringing the Asian Journalism Debate into American Newsrooms: Rethinking Diversity 
    Aram Hur, 2007, Thesis Advisor: Ted Glasser
  • Learning Tai Chi in Virtual Reality: Exploring the Effects of Fully Immersive Virtual Reality on Learning of Physical Tasks? 
    Alexia Nielsen, 2007, Thesis Advisor: Jeremy Bailenson
  • Virtually True: Children’s Acquisition of False Memories in Virtual Reality
    Kathryn Rickertsen (Firestone Award Recipient), 2007, Thesis Advisor: Jeremy Bailenson
  • Virtual Police Lineups: An Exploration of How Virtual Reality Can Improve Eyewitness Identification 
    Alexandra Davies, 2005, Thesis Advisor: Jeremy Bailenson
  • Subtle Racial Media Appeals in Political Campaigns and the Local News: How does this influence public opinion and California referenda? 
    Jessica LaVerne Parker, 2005, Thesis Advisor: Shanto Iyengar