What Honors options are there at UMass Amherst?

There are two main ways to get an Honors degree at UMass Amherst: Latin Honors and Commonwealth Honors College honors.

Latin Honors

Requirements for Latin Honors are set by the Registrar's Office, and are based solely on GPA. Learn about requirements for Latin Honors.

Commonwealth Honors College

Students can also graduate as a Commonwealth Honors College scholar, with varying degrees of distinction. This involves being admitted to the Commonwealth Honors College and fulfilling all the requirements. Click here for information on graduating with honors from Commonwealth Honors College, how to apply to Commonwealth Honors College, and the requirements for Commonwealth Honors College. Students may join the Commonwealth Honors College as direct admits to the university, or apply to join once they are on campus.

Departmental Honors in Communication

Communication majors enrolled in the Commonwealth Honors College have the option of selecting a Departmental Honors track in Communication. Click here to learn more about the Departmental Honors option in Communication, or read below.


To be eligible for department honors (DH) in Communication, you need to:

  • be able to complete 45 graded (not pass/fail) credits in residence at UMass Amherst
  • be able to complete 38 or 39 credits (depending on whether you were directly admitted to the Communication major) in Communication (transfer students should speak to the Departmental Undergraduate Honors Program Director, Prof. Benjamin Bailey, regarding transfer credits)
  • have an overall GPA of 3.4 or higher, earned after one full-time semester at UMass Amherst

Why do Departmental Honors in Communication?

1. Learn about and conduct in-depth research in your major field of study
2. Gain insight into theory building and methods of studying communication phenomena
3. Get a jump start on a career in communication research and/or teaching by conducting your own thesis project in communication

Admission to Departmental Honors

Students who are not already members of the Commonwealth Honors College (CHC) must apply to Departmental Honors (DH), an Advanced Scholarship track of CHC, via the CHC online application available here.

Students who are already members of the CHC meet with the department's Honors Program Director (HPD), Prof. Benjamin Bailey, regarding their interest in joining Comm Departmental Honors.  The HPD will determine a student's eligibility and preparedness for Comm DH.  

Communication Departmental Honors Requirements

Students may complete the following required courses for Departmental Honors as part of the full Commonwealth Honors College curriculum, which includes Honors General Studies, or they may complete Departmental Honors alone. You must earn a B or better in each course.

  • Two honors courses in Communication, at least one at the 300-level or above. Students typically approach faculty about adding a 1-credit honors independent study to Communication courses they are taking in order to achieve this requirement. There is also at least one fully enriched honors course offered in the department each semester.
  • 38 total credits in Comm for students who apply to the major once they are on campus, 39 total credits for students who are directly admitted to the Communication major in a Fall semester.
  • Honors Thesis (8 credits)
    • Option A: Independent Honors Thesis, COMM 499Y Honors Research and COMM 499T or 499P Honors Thesis or Project
    • Option B: Complete the Departmental Honors Thesis course (two semesters) COMM 499C and COMM 499D

Criteria for Honors Independent Studies

Honors students submitting applications for honors independent studies in Communication should observe the departmental criteria for independent studies in general. Each credit of independent study should be similar to a credit of a course in terms of workload. In all cases, the independent study will require a formal written component (one or more research papers). Video or audiotapes, films, portfolios, and the like may also be submitted for evaluation, as determined by you and your instructor. Get more information on Honors Independent Studies.