Honors in Journalism
Students majoring in Journalism & Mass Communication have the opportunity to graduate with honors in the major. Departmental honors students must have a g.p.a. of at least 3.50 in the major and a cumulative University of Iowa g.p.a. of at least 3.33.
Please note that University Honors is separate from JMC honors, but we encourage students to pursue both University and JMC honors. Information on University Honors can be found below.
JMC honors students must complete JMC:4955 - Honors Project under the supervision of a faculty member. The JMC Honors Project is the centerpiece of earning JMC honors and may take the form of an individual thesis or a professional project. JMC honors students are encouraged, but not required, to take JMC:4910 - Readings in Communication & Mass Communication as preparation for the Honors Project during the semester before they complete the Project. This project is typically completed during the last semester of the senior year.
The Honors Project and Readings in Communication & Mass Communication courses count as JMC electives against the student’s total journalism credit hours (no more than 52). Only full-time faculty members may supervise them. The nature of the project is up to the student and supervisor. Examples of previous projects are on file in the SJMC Student Center (E350 AJB). Contact the SJMC Student Center Coordinator for access to previous honors projects.
The same honors project may not be turned in to two departments unless special permission is obtained from both departments. Double-department honors projects require more substance and depth than single-department projects. Please check with honors advisors from both departments before pursuing such projects.
NOTE: Graduating with distinction, based on GPA and class percentile, is different from graduating with JMC or University honors.
Pursuing JMC Honors
- Students can graduate with honors by completing a traditional research thesis or something more hands-on and/or creative. The project can be almost anything—an extensive or investigative reporting/writing project, a first issue of a magazine, a photo essay, a media-related Web site, a PR campaign—that interests the student and can be explored in ways the student has not yet done.
- Students are urged to think of the project as a personalized "capstone" that builds on what they have learned already and that is tailored to their career aspirations. It must produce an original portfolio piece that demonstrates a high level of creative and professional achievement.
- Hands-on projects must also include an “evaluative component” in which students reflect on the project and on what they learned from it. This generally is an essay of at least four pages.
JMC Honors Timetable
Before pursuing the Honors Project
- Students interested in pursuing an Honors Project should contact their JMC advisor.
- Students think about what they might want to do as an Honors Project. Students also are welcome to come to JMC Advisor Anna Newnum (W241 AJB) or JMC Honors Advisor Lillian Martell (W343 AJB) with ideas or questions.
- Students discuss project ideas with faculty members and enlist an appropriate faculty member to serve as a supervisor.
Semester before Honors Project
- Students take JMC:4910 Readings in Communication & Mass Communication to prepare for Honors Project (Optional).
- Students sign an Independent Study Contract with their faculty supervisor and submit to JMC Honors Advisor by December 1 for Spring projects or May 1 for Fall projects.
- Once students have turned in their independent study contracts, they should register for JMC:4955 Honors Project no later than the end of the “add” period of the semester when the Project is to be completed.
Beginning of semester when project is to be completed
- Students meet with faculty supervisor during the first two weeks of classes to discuss details of the project, including a timetable, the anticipated end result, and how it will be evaluated.
Midpoint of the semester when student is graduating
- When applying for graduation, check "Request Honors Designation" under the JMC major. Please contact your JMC advisor if you do not see "Request Honors Designation" on your application for graduation.
End of the semester in which the honors project is completed
- Students complete all requirements for the Honors Project to the faculty supervisor’s satisfaction no later than the Friday before finals week (the last day of classes). For hands-on projects, this includes both the project and the evaluative component.
- Students are required to submit a copy of their project to the SJMC Student Center Coordinator in E350 AJB by 4:30pm the Wednesday of finals week. Typically, the submission is a hard copy of the honors project, but if another format is necessary, contact the SJMC Student Center Coordinator.
- Students are encouraged but not required to submit their project electronically to Iowa Research Online, a repository of work produced at UI by students and faculty that is publicly available: Honors Thesis or Project Submission. The deadline to complete the required Submission Agreement Form in order to submit your project to Iowa Research Online is always the Wednesday of finals week at 11:59 p.m.
Kappa Tau Alpha (National Honors Society)
The School’s chapter of Kappa Tau Alpha, the national society honoring scholarship in journalism and mass communication, was founded in 1936 and is named for former director Leslie G. Moeller. Students are considered for membership if their grade-point average places them in the top 10 percent of their class and they have completed at least five semesters of university work, including a minimum of 9 s.h. in journalism and mass communications skill courses. Contact the Undergraduate Advisor for details.
University of Iowa Honors Program
In addition to honors in the major, students may pursue honors study and activities through membership in the University of Iowa Honors Program. University honors students must maintain a 3.33 g.p.a., complete 12 s.h. of coursework designated as honors courses, and complete 12 s.h. of an experiential learning project. Visit Honors at Iowa to learn about the University's honors program.
NOTE: Membership in the UI Honors Program is not required to earn honors in the journalism and mass communication major.