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Honors Program


The faculty in the Department of Film and Media invites hard-working film and media majors, passionate about the field, to apply to our Honors Program. Whatever the research area—film and media studies, film production, or screenwriting—students must be committed to the thorough process of exploring the still and moving image in its many forms. Completing a thesis requires a significant commitment of time and energy. It is incumbent upon the student to independently complete the work of the honors project. Your advisor and the rest of the faculty are here to serve as resources and guides.

Honors Requirements

To graduate with Honors in Film and Media, students must:

  • Be a major in Film and Media
  • Have a 3.7 cumulative GPA, or petition with a GPA of 3.45 or higher
  • Enroll in FILM 495A: Honors Methods Seminar (4 credits with a set class time and screening) in Fall semester of your senior year—counts as XA (Experience and Application) GER; also counts as 400-level course for the major
  • Enroll in FILM 495BW: Honors Thesis (1-4 variable credits; no set class time) in Spring semester of your senior year—counts as W (Writing/Continuing Communication) GER
  • Complete and defend a research or production-based thesis, due in early April of your senior year
  • Fulfill any other requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences Honors program (trainings, meetings, etc.)

Because the Honors Program is a full single academic year, students graduating in the fall semester are not eligible.

GPA Requirement/Petitions

Admission to the Emory College Honors Program requires a cumulative GPA of 3.7 or above, and students must maintain a cumulative 3.7 GPA through graduation to be eligible to graduate with Honors. Only Emory grades (including Emory-sponsored study abroad programs and courses offered at Emory but outside the College, such as those offered by the Goizueta Business School) are calculated as part of a student’s Emory GPA.

In May and August, the Honors Committee considers petitions to be admitted to Honors from students who do not meet the 3.7 cumulative GPA requirement. Students who have a GPA of at least 3.45, and the support of their departmental honors coordinator and potential thesis advisor are eligible to petition. Students who are admitted by petition must earn at least the cumulative GPA with which they entered the Honors Program. Thus, if a student enters the Honors Program through a petition with a 3.5 cumulative GPA, that student must maintain at least a cumulative 3.5 GPA in every subsequent semester to be eligible to continue in the Honors Program.

Film and Media Studies Thesis "Tracks"

Students completing honors in this track create a substantial body of original work of at least 60 pages that investigates a singular concept or theme in film and media studies. The project is expected to engage extensively with existing research on their topic and make an original contribution to the scholarly discussion. The thesis should conform to the highest standards of correctness in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage and must include proper citations in either MLA or Chicago format.

Culminating in a finished visual project, with 20+ page support paper (see below for expectations).

The honors thesis in film production is meant for students who have focused on film production in their coursework at Emory and have achieved technical competence before their senior year.

Prerequisites: Students who pursue a film production thesis project must have completed FILM 107: Introduction to Digital Video and at least two other production courses from the following options: FILM 207: Narrative Fiction Filmmaking I, FILM 307: Narrative Fiction Filmmaking II, FILM 208: Documentary Filmmaking I, Film 308: Documentary Filmmaking II, FILM 212: Film Producing, FILM 213: Cinematography and Lighting, or FILM 285: Post Production.

Requirements for the film production thesis:

  • An original idea or concept that the student proposes to explore in visual form. If the work is to be adapted from previously written material, the student must have a strong vision as to how they will make it their own.
  • A detailed production schedule submitted before the end of the Fall semester that breaks down how the film production will be executed.
  • A finished visual project of no more than 20 minutes, with a public screening.

Culminating in a photography project with 20+ page support paper (see below for expectations).

Students who choose to pursue a photography thesis project must have completed, at the least, FILM 106: Photography I and FILM 206: Photography II. FILM 205: History of Photography is also highly recommended.

Students must get approval from Prof. Jason Francisco to pursue this track. He is the only faculty member who can serve as your advisor. He will also outline the requirements for a project in this track.

Culminating in a screenplay with a 10+ page support paper (see below for expectations).

Prerequisites: Students who pursue a screenwriting thesis must have completed FILM 378: Screenwriting and at least one of the following: FILM 278: Writing the Short Film, FILM 379: Advanced Screenwriting, or ENGCW/FILM 379/389: Introduction to Television Writing.

Requirements for the screenplay

  • An original idea or concept that the student proposes to explore in screenplay form. No adaptations allowed.
  • A detailed writing schedule submitted by the beginning of the Fall semester including deadlines for logline and synopsis, character studies, outline, sequences and/or acts.  
  • A finished feature screenplay of 90-120 pages, or a television pilot and series bible.

Support Paper Requirements (for film production and photography projects)

The required support paper accompanying the film production, photography, and screenwriting tracks provides the committee with an integrated synthesis of and reflection on the creative process. Readings, activity on set or in the darkroom, discussions, and reflection should reveal the artist’s thoughts, processes, and outcomes. Additionally, the paper should comprehensively apply and integrate information attained from coursework in the program’s curriculum (history, theory, criticism, mediamaking).

Support papers should conform to the highest standards of correctness in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage and must include proper citations in either MLA or Chicago format.

Faculty Advisor and Honors Committee

The student will choose a committee of three faculty members to provide guidance, read/view and evaluate the final thesis project, and determine the level of honors. The committee includes an advisor, who works closely with the student throughout the thesis completion, and two other committee members, who are somewhat less involved in the process.

Typically, students choose their advisor early in the fall semester of their senior year and choose the rest of the committee later in the fall or very early in the spring. A student does not need to have chosen or gotten approval from a faculty advisor in order to apply for honors.

The Makeup of the Honors Committee

  • The advisor must be a faculty member in the Department of Film and Media.
  • Two other members of the committee must be faculty in Emory College. We recommend one faculty member from another department.
  • In some cases, students have a fourth committee member, either from Film and Media or from a different academic department. Faculty from other universities, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows may serve as non-voting committee members.
  • Faculty from Oxford College are allowed to serve on committees. Adjunct, visiting, emeritus, and post-doctoral fellows must petition to the Honors Committee to be permitted to serve on committees. Members of the staff are not eligible to serve on committees.

Levels of Honors

The committee recommends the degree of honors to the College Honors Committee as follows:

Honors: Satisfactory completion of the honors program and thesis project.

High Honors: Completion of the honors program with outstanding performance. A research-based written thesis should be suitable for oral presentation to scholars in the candidate’s field. A filmmaking, photography, or screenwriting thesis should be comparable to master’s level work, and the support paper should be of high quality.

Highest Honors: Completion of the honors program with exceptional performance, including an overall GPA of 3.5 or above. A research-based written thesis should be suitable for publication in the candidate’s field. A filmmaking, photography, or screenwriting thesis should be at a professional level, and the support paper should be of highest quality.

How to Apply for Honors

To apply for the Honors program, you will need to submit a detailed proposal for your honors project. The due date is in early March. The proposals will be evaluated by a committee of faculty, and the committee will select a group of students who will be officially invited to complete the Honors Program. You will be notified about whether your proposal was accepted by the end of March.

 As you prepare your proposal, we recommend meeting with a Film and Media Studies professor (perhaps someone you might ask to be on your committee later) and/or the Film and Media Studies librarian, Dr. James Steffen, to help you conceptualize your project. You do not need to choose an advisor or committee members until after you are accepted into the program.

How to Submit Your Proposal

  • Combine all of the following documents in a single PDF titled with your name and Honors Proposal (e.g., John Doe Honors Proposal.pdf).
  • Specific submission instructions will be communicated by the Honors Program Coordinator.

Please provide the following, preferably in a single PDF document.

  1. A preliminary title for your proposed honors thesis project
  2. A multiple-paragraph description of the proposed project
    1. Be sure to clarify whether this is a research-based written thesis or a production-based thesis. In your description, please explain why you chose this project, what you hope to learn from completing it, how your project will contribute to the field of film and media, and how it will be an extension of your coursework thus far.
  3. An initial treatment (overview) of the thesis as you imagine it. For studies theses, this could include potential chapters, arguments, or media texts that will be analyzed. For screenwriting or filmmaking, this might include a plot summary, list of characters, plot structure, etc.
  4. A preliminary list of books, articles, films, media, etc. that you would like to look at in your project.
    1. Research thesis proposals should include books and articles that will inform your research.
    2. Production thesis proposals could include these research materials or films and media that are similar to or informing the proposed project.
  5. A list of 2-3 faculty that you might like to have on your honors thesis committee. Please note if you have already discussed your project any of with them (recommended but not required).
  6. A list of any coursework that you have done that you feel has prepared you to complete this particular project. Please explain their usefulness or influence on your thesis project. (Production or studies courses as appropriate for your project.)
  7. Please add a sample of your work.
    1. For those writing research-based studies theses, please submit a paper completed for a class that is at least five pages long and is a good example of your writing. Research-based writing preferred.
    2. For those completing production theses, please send a digital file or link to a piece of creative work that you have completed. If it was created with other people, please detail your role in its production.
    3. You may submit more than one sample, but please clarify the order of preference (e.g., which one the committee should consider first).
  8. Our office will pull an unofficial transcript of your coursework and grades to be shared with the selection committee.

Accepted Honors Students: Expectations/Procedures

After you have been accepted into the Honors Program, you are expected to participate in the honors program throughout your senior year. This will require you to meet the deadlines set by the department and the Emory College Honors program.

 In addition to fulfilling all of the requirements for the film or media studies major, you are expected to maintain a 3.7 GPA (or the GPA that you petitioned at) throughout your senior year.

Specific deadlines for thesis submission will be given to you at the beginning of the fall semester. Here is a rough idea of what your senior year will look like:

Over the summer, after project approval, the student should research and explore their topic broadly through readings, viewings, and/or creative work. The professor of record for the Fall FILM 495A course may ask you to prepare homework that will be due at the beginning of the Fall semester.

You are required to be enrolled in FILM 495A: Honors Methods Seminar, a 4-credit course that has a set class and screening time. This is where you will begin to work on the planning and execution of your thesis project. This class can count as your 400-level course or as an elective toward your major.

Students should be having regular meetings with their advisor while working on their thesis in FILM 495A.

Students are required to attend the mandatory Emory College honors meetings that are scheduled throughout the Fall, usually in October. The program will e-mail you directly.

You are required to enroll in the FILM 495BW: Honors Thesis class in the Spring semester. This is not an official “class” with meetings but a way for you to receive credit for the work you are doing on your thesis. Depending on your registration status, you can choose to enroll in this class for 1-4 credits. (Each credit represents three hours of work per week.) If enrolled for 3 or more credits, this course can count as an elective toward the major.

In January, students must submit a roster of their honors committee to the Emory College Honors program.

Usually, the honors student receives comments from the thesis advisor as they progress throughout the project and waits until prior to their defense to submit the whole project to other committee members.

The Thesis Defense

Once the submission deadlines draw closer, you should check in with your committee members about a date and time that will be convenient for them for your defense. Defenses are usually 60 minutes long. 

When you have settled on a date and time, you should contact office staff to schedule a room on campus. Defenses can also take place virtually over Zoom with the permission of the student’s advisor. Students can invite outside participants (friends or family) with the permission of their advisor.

When the final draft of your thesis is ready for distribution, you should ask your committee members in what form they would like it – paper or electronic – and then deliver it to them in accordance with their specifications at least a week in advance of your defense.

Generally, the thesis defense abides by the following schedule but this format is ultimately up to you and your thesis advisor.

  1. The student makes a brief (5-10 minute) presentation about their project. This can include a visual presentation but this is not required.
  2. Each committee member takes turns asking the student questions about their project. This often leads to a general discussion amongst the committee members and the student. This usually lasts 30-45 minutes.
  3. The student is asked to leave the room so that the committee members can discuss the student’s work and decide whether the student has earned honors and the level of honors given.
  4. The student is asked back into the room and informed of the decision made by the committee. More often than not, committee members will ask students to make revisions to their thesis before they submit the final version to the College. They should submit these changes first to their advisor who will then give the final approval to upload the work to the College.
  5. You should bring the committee approval form to the defense for your committee to sign. You will receive this form from the Emory College honors office/Canvas page.

Students who successfully complete the honors program will participate in the Emory College Honors ceremony, which is typically held the Sunday before commencement.


Honors Coordinator

Dr. Tanine Allison

Contact first with questions

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Dr. Gregory Zinman (for Spring 2024)

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Daniel Reynolds

Film and Media Librarian

Dr. James Steffen

Undergraduate Program Administrator

Clare Sterling