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General Degree Requirements

 University of Colorado, Boulder

Honors in Film Studies
(Departmental Honors)

To obtain Honors in Film Studies students must have a GPA of 3.3 or higher.  In general, Honors are awarded according to the following GPA designations:  3.3-3.49 (cum laude), 3.5-3.79 (magna cum laude) and 3.8-4.0 (summa cum laude).  However, exceptional work may cause the Honors Thesis Committee to recommend a higher designation than is usually associated with the candidate’s GPA, while inferior work may cause the Committee to recommend an Honors designation lower than is associated with the candidate’s GPA.  In rare cases, the Committee may decide not to recommend Honors.  All designations recommended by the Honors Thesis Committee are subject to review by the CU Honors Council when it meets as a whole at the end of the semester.  Final designations are awarded at that time and posted in the Honors office in the days following the meeting.  Honors designations are final and may not be appealed.

Procedure for Attaining Honors in Film Studies, BA & BFA Degrees

Students wishing to pursue Honors in Film Studies must begin the procedure no later than the semester before graduation.  At that time, the student must select an Advisor from the Film Studies Program whose area of expertise best fits that student’s selected topic or project.  Advisors are usually full-time faculty members in the Program, either tenure-track or tenured professors or instructors, but adjuncts may also serve as Advisors pending Program approval.  A Critical Studies Advisor must supervise Critical Studies theses, and a Film Production Advisor must supervise filmmaking projects.  In general, a student receiving a BA in Critical Studies will pursue a written Honors Thesis in Critical Studies, and a student receiving a BFA in Film Production will pursue an Honors Thesis in filmmaking.  However, it is possible for a BFA student to elect to do a written Honors thesis.  Students pursuing two majors (BA and BFA in Film Studies, or a major in Film Studies and a major in another discipline) may choose to do an Honors Thesis for either or both majors.  Students seeking two distinct Honors designations must do a separate and different Honors Thesis for each degree.

Every Honors Thesis Committee must be composed of at least three faculty members:  an Advisor (from Film Studies), the Film Studies Honors Council Representative, and a faculty member from another department.  In rare cases, and with the Film Studies Honors Representative’s approval, the student may select an advisor from outside the program, in a cognate discipline.  Ideally, the entire committee should be assembled early on in the Honors process, but must be in place no later than three weeks before the oral defense of the thesis (the final step in the Honors process, approximately one hour in length).  Committee members must be given at least two full weeks to read the finished thesis.

The semester before the student graduates, he or she must go to the Honors Office in Norlin Library  (room M400L) to obtain the list of pertinent deadlines and the required form for the Honors prospectus.  Each student must write a prospectus, a preliminary bibliography and timeline for research, writing and/or filmmaking and submit that prospectus to his or her Advisor for review.  Both the Advisor and the Honors Council Representative must approve and sign the prospectus.  The Advisor should make a copy for his or her own files as well as one for the Film Studies Honors Representative.  The student should also make a copy, and then submit the signed prospectus to the Honors Office in Norlin library (for a student graduating in May, the prospectus is usually due the preceding October; for a student graduating in December, the prospectus is due the preceding March or April.  In either case, the prospectus must be submitted the semester before Honors is received.  The last minute submission of a prospectus and/or beginning of an Honors project is not allowed).  It is the student’s responsibility to meet with his or her advisor and honor the deadlines for drafts, rough-cuts and final revisions described in the timeline on the prospectus.  Rushed projects completed without supervision are not allowed.

Please note:  because an Honors thesis often transforms over the course of writing and filming, it is common to have to re-write the original prospectus for inclusion in the finished thesis.  Sample theses and prospectuses are available in the Honors Office for your perusal.

BA Honors

A written Honors Thesis is usually approximately 30-35 pages in length, but may be longer or shorter depending on the nature of the project.  It may develop from a shorter paper written for another class, but must expand upon the initial ideas put forth in that paper and demonstrate originality of thought and breadth of research.  A paper or project written for another class may not be submitted for the purpose of obtaining Honors without revision or expansion into a new Honors Thesis.

BFA Honors

To obtain BFA Honors in Film Studies, a student must make a film and write a paper.  The film may be either a substantial revision of a 4500 film or a new film.  The 15-20-page paper must be both scholarly and technical.  It must demonstrate considerable research, place the film in a personal, historical and aesthetic context, and include an analysis of the film’s form and content.  Contact Associate Professor Melinda Barlow to see a sample of this kind of essay (contact info below).  Students who make a new film must enable Honors Committee members to view the film before the defense by giving each committee member a copy of the film on DVD a full two weeks before the defense.  Students who choose to make substantial revisions to an existing film must also give all committee members a copy of the revised film on DVD a full two weeks before the defense.  In either case students may be asked to screen examples from their new or revised films during the defense.  Students who have revised a 4500 film as an Honors thesis must bring cued-up copies of both the original film and the revised film to the defense in order to clearly demonstrate the nature of the revisions to the Honors committee members.

Credit for Honors Research

Students may register for three Honors Independent Studies credits the semester he or she is working on either a BA or a BFA Honors Thesis. Students will be graded for these Independent Studies projects. Because Film Studies is currently seeking its own Honors Thesis Independent Study course number, students who wish to register for such credits next semester should check with the Film Studies Honors Representative to see what course number to use (one may be obtained from the Honors Program if our own is not yet in place). The Honors Thesis Advisor also serves as the supervisor of the Honors Thesis Independent Study. Students must fill out an Independent Study course form and have it signed by the Chair of Film Studies, making clear that the credits in question pertain to an Honors Thesis project.

For more information, see the CU Honors website or call the Honors Program at 303-492-6617. Information on pursuing General Honors is also available through these two sources.

Associate Professor Melinda Barlow is the Honors Representative for Film Studies. Her office is ATLAS 333, and she may be reached at 303-492-3291 or

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Film Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder
Film Studies Program, ATLAS room 329, Film Studies, , Campus Box 316, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0316. ph 303.492.7574 fx 303.492.1362