Senior Honors Program


The Department of Communication sponsors a rigorous and rewarding Senior Honors Program for our brightest undergraduates. The program is a challenging learning experience that spans three quarters of the student's academic career. The Honors Program affords students the opportunity to conduct a year-long independent research project, under the direction of the faculty member in charge of the course and in collaboration with the Communication Department faculty. The program culminates in a Senior Honors Thesis. In addition, students who complete the program graduate with Distinction in the Major.

The program is particularly useful for those who are considering any type of graduate study, but it is also designed for students who seek to enrich their undergraduate studies with the rewarding experience of engaging in a research project and working with members of the Communication faculty.

Eligible students are invited to apply during the spring quarter of their junior year. Application forms are available from the Director of the Senior Honors Program at the yearly informational meeting. Students who meet the criteria listed below and have the consent of the instructor will be accepted into the program, and should enroll in Communication 180 during the fall quarter of their senior year.

The College of Letters & Science also offers an Honors Program; please visit their site for information and requirements.

Criteria for Eligibility

1. Full major in Communication with junior class standing.

2. Minimum overall GPA of 3.50 and GPA of 3.50 in Communication major at the time of application and at the completion of the spring quarter of junior year.

3. Completion of at least three UPPER DIVISION courses in the Communication major by the end of the spring quarter of the junior year.

Honors Work

As part of the program, honors students take a four-unit Senior Honors Seminar (Communication 180) during the fall quarter of the senior year. The seminar is designed to introduce students to the process of conducting research in Communication. Basic steps in the research process are covered, such as defining an area of interest, conducting a literature review, and designing a study. Students also learn how to write a research proposal using the American Psychological Association Style Guide.

Students who receive a grade of either A or A- in Communication 180 will be qualified to enroll in 12 additional units of Senior Thesis Research during the next two quarters (8 units during the Winter quarter of Communication 181A and 182 and 4 units during the Spring quarter of 181B). These units involve class meetings, independent work with the instructor and are designed to culminate in the Senior Thesis. However, any student who does not earn a grade of either A or A- in Communication 180 will not be allowed to continue with Communication 181A-B, although they will receive full credit for Communication 180.

Communication 182, which is designed to enhance the students understanding of Research Methods, is an upper division Communication course that is open to all Communication students and is a requirement of students completing the Senior Honors Thesis program.  Students may take Communication 182 during the Winter quarter of their Junior year, prior to their involvement in the Senior Honors program or during the Winter quarter of their Senior year in conjunction with Communication 181A.

Students eligible to continue in the program are required to complete a Senior Thesis under the direction of the instructor. The thesis is typically a written report (30-50 pages) of an empirical study on some aspect of human communication that the student conducts.

Honors Thesis Project Components

Major steps in the Thesis process include:

  • Identifying and describing your research topic and interest
  • Searching for information as part of a literature review
  • Moving from theory to hypothesis to study design to data collection to analysis  to evaluation to write-up and interpretation, to conclusion
  • Writing and submitting a proposal for URCA funding
  • Writing, submitting, and revising a human subjects request
  • Using the Department of Communication research participation system (SONA)
  • Designing a survey, experiment, or other data collection method
  • Using Qualtrics, the external online survey system
  • Obtaining research participants
  • Collecting and organizing data
  • Analyzing data using SPSS
  • Interpreting SPSS results and tables
  • Preparing a powerpoint presentation
  • Preparing a large-scale results poster
  • Presenting your research at the URCA Undergraduate Research Colloquium
  • Presenting your research at the Department’s Senior Honors Thesis event
  • Working and communicating with faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and your fellow Senior Honors Thesis students
  • Preparing a final Thesis according to APA formatting criteria, and providing the bound Thesis for the department library
  • Seeing your research abstract on the Department’s website

Presentation of the Project

Honors students present their work to faculty, other honors students, and guests at a colloquium scheduled at the end of the senior year, and are acknowledged at the Annual Awards Ceremony.

Graduation with Distinction

Upon satisfactory completion of required coursework and the thesis, students are recommended for graduation with Distinction in the Major.

Additional Considerations

Honors students may have graduate student borrowing privileges at the UCSB Library, and are given special consideration in enrolling for Communication courses.

Honors students are encouraged to apply for research fellowships in early fall of their senior year. The fellowships offer competitive research funds of up to $1000, to be used to cover any costs associated with their research projects, and honors students are given priority in the competition. Applications are completed with the assistance of the faculty advisor and include a detailed budget for how the funds will be used in the research project.

Senior Honors Students, Thesis Titles, Advisors and Abstracts

For thesis abstracts, click on the yearly links. (Please note that we are missing some students, titles, abstracts, and advisors.  If you know one of these, please email the Senior Honors Thesis Advisor, Dr. Dan Linz.)


  • Advisors: Dan Linz and Gordon Abra
  • Christopher Chan: Designing for Motivation: Game Dynamics in Online Language Learning Platforms
  • Erika Frazer: Bilingual Self-Talk: The Effects of Language and Cultural Indetification on School Performance
  • Elizabeth Ivy: Consumer responses to Corporate Violations
  • Julian Mueller-Herbst: Cultural Differences in Political Discussion
  • Kimberly Ngo: Affimative Consent in Sexual Contexts and Bystander Intervention Programs
  • Christina Orzechowski: Management of Family Secrets Regarding Mental Illness
  • Chinaza Osisioma: How Media Shapes Women's Self Esteem, Upward Social Comparisions and Internalization of the "Thin Ideal"

2014 (PDF)

  • Advisor: Dan Linz
  • Sarah Bertolli: Emotional Intelligence, Relationship Satisfaction and Gender Differences
  • Rachel Cansler: Stigma and Pathogen Avoidance Associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Anthony Correia: Dominance and Enhancement in Social Hierarchies
  • Hanna Dijkstra: Gender Differnces in Pro-Environmentalism
  • Jakob Edson: Attitudes Towards Online Privacy
  • Qinglan Li: Gender Differences in Risk Perceptions of Online Shopping and Effects of Friend Recommendations
  • Jennifer Reinus: Long Distance Relationships and Academic Success in First Year University Students