Honors Thesis Mentor Award

This award is offered annually to recognize and honor faculty members whose direction and advisement of honors thesis research or creative activity has significantly contributed to the enhancement and quality of education of undergraduate students at Florida State University.

Students seeking to nominate their thesis director must submit an application along with a supporting letter of nomination.

Once a faculty member has been nominated, they will be notified and information will be requested by the selection committee such as a vita, list of courses taught over the past five years, graduate-level teaching evaluations, honors theses committee supervision, number of previous nominations for the Honors Thesis Mentor Award and other considerations (letters of support from department chair, academic deans, and other students).

Nominations for this award are due in to the Honors Program office no later than February 1st.

Kingsbury Undergraduate Writing Award

This award is offered annually to a student who demonstrated excellence in the writing of an undergraduate honors thesis. Students are nominated by a faculty member (traditionally a thesis director or member of the faculty committee for their project) and must submit a draft of their thesis to be considered for the award.

The quality of student writing is of central importance in this competition. Although form and style should be appropriate to subject matter and in accord with the norms of the writers’ home discipline, some criteria will operate across disciplines. Such criteria include, but are not limited to: originality, persuasiveness, accuracy, insightfulness, clarity, reasonableness, vividness, timeliness, etc.

Eligible Students must be currently enrolled full-time as an undergraduate at FSU in good standing who is currently enrolled in the Honors in the Major program or who has defended an Honors thesis.

Nominations for this award are due in to the Honors Program office no later than February 1st.

Bess H. Ward Honors Thesis Award

This award is offered each Fall and Spring semester, and can provide up to $750 to support research or creativity leading to an Honors Thesis that will be completed as part of the Honors in the Major program.

The awards can be used to cover expenses such as travel to perform research, books, basic supplies, or participant support for surveys. Any equipment or materials purchased with the award money become property of the student, although the student may elect to donate the equipment to a department or college upon completion of the thesis.

To be eligible for this award you must:

  • Have a minimum FSU GPA of 3.20
  • Be actively working on an Honors in the Major thesis

The deadline to apply for this award is typically in September for the Fall semester and in February for the Spring semester.

Honors in the Major Overview

Honors in the Major is an individualized program of study that provides students who maintain a 3.750 GPA (or higher) an opportunity to engage in their own research activity or creative work with the support of a faculty committee. Students from the College of Motion Picture Arts have created a wide array of Honors projects, ranging from research to creative work, including:

  • Feature screenplays;
  • Pitch bibles;
  • Story reels for animated films;
  • Documentary projects;
  • Research papers on topics such as cinematography in video games, the role of documentaries in environmental activism, and techniques for deep compositing;
  • Research demos on topics such as cinematic language in Virtual Reality, methods of 3D printing, and techniques for drone photography.


Honors in the Major for students in the College of Motion Picture Arts typically follows a four-semester cycle: a preparatory semester (BFA2 Spring) to get ready for admission into the Honors in the Major program, followed by three semesters (BFA2 Summer, BFA3 Fall, BFA3 Spring) of work on the Honors project.

BFA2 Spring:

  • Students must attend an info session with the Honors Liaison (Dr. Lisa Tripp) in order to be eligible to apply.
  • Students decide on an Honors topic and enlist a Thesis Director from the College of Motion Picture Arts faculty.
  • By Week 12, students must submit an action plan to the College’s Honors Liaison in order to earn approval to pursue an Honors thesis.
  • By Week 13, students must have their committees fully formed, including the outside member.
  • By Week 14, students must submit an application form to the College’s Honors Liaison to be admitted into Honors in the Major.

BFA2 Summer:

  • Students enroll in 2 credit hours of FIL4975 Undergraduate Honors Thesis, which may be taken as one of the summer electives. This translates into an average of about 10 hours of work per week.
  • By Week 4, students submit a written prospectus to their committee for approval.
  • By Week 7, students submit a committee-approved prospectus to the Honors Program.

BFA3 Fall:

  • Students enroll in 1 credit hour of FIL4975 Undergraduate Honors Thesis. This translates into an average of about 3.5 hours of work per week, which the student must schedule alongside their work on thesis films.

BFA3 Spring:

  • Students may enroll in 3 or 6 credit hours of FIL4975 Undergraduate Honors Thesis. This translates into an average of about 10 or 20 hours of work per week.
  • By Week 15 of the Spring semester, students must hold a defense of the project in front of their faculty committee.


Students work with the College Liaison and their Thesis Director to develop a set of milestones for their Honors work. These milestones are designed to help the student make steady progress towards the completion of their project over the course of the year and to make sure that all requirements for the Honors Program are met.

Students may be removed from the Honors in the Major program if they miss milestones, fail the defense, or fail to maintain a 3.750 GPA. Students do, however, have the right to appeal removal from the program if they believe the decision was unfair.

  • Participants must complete the Appeal Form stating the details and reason for reconsideration.
  • Appeal Form must be submitted within two weeks (including holidays and weekends) of the missed deadline in question or notification of removal from the program.
  • The Program Administrator will contact the student with the decision within two weeks of the appeal request.
  • No additional edits to the submission is allowed and a blind reviewer will evaluate the submission on the student’s behalf.
  • Only one appeal request may be submitted per student.

Restrictions on the use of Film School equipment

Students are not permitted to use any equipment from the Film School Equipment Room for Honors projects. No exceptions.

School computing equipment may be available to support Honors projects, but the allocation of workstations to film school productions always takes priority. Requests for a workstation for an Honors project must be made to the Associate Dean, ideally before the student turns in their application form at the end of the BFA2 Spring semester.

Admission to Honors in the Major

Students do not need to be part of the University Honors Program in order to participate in Honors in the Major. The requirements set by the College of Motion Picture Arts are as follows:

  • A 3.750 GPA or higher
  • Approval from a Thesis Director (selected by the student)
  • Approval from the College Honors Liaison (Lisa Tripp)
  • Approval from the Associate Dean (Andrew Syder)

Application steps

All of the steps below must be taken during the BFA2 Spring semester, so that an application to the Honors Program can be submitted before the deadline at the end of that semester.

1. Attend the College’s information session

The College Honors Liaison will hold an information session about Honors in the Major. Students are required to attend this info session to be eligible to apply for Honors in the Major. The College Liaison will provide general information about Honors in the Major and will also be available to help students identify potential topics for Honors projects.

2. Identify a topic

After attending the information session, through consultation with the College Liaison, the student should begin to think about the topic for their Honors project. It doesn’t need to be fully defined at this point in time, but having some sense of a general topic area will be helpful in determining a suitable Thesis Director for the project.

3. Secure a Thesis Director

The Thesis Director must be a full-time FSU faculty member from the College of Motion Picture Arts. The College Liaison can assist in this process if the student is not sure who might be a good fit. The Thesis Director will also be able to share valuable insights on broadening or narrowing the scope of your work to make sure you are able to conclude your project within your anticipated timeline.

4. Create a working title

Once you have recruited your Thesis Director, you will work together to clarify a working title for your project. Although this title may be changed, it should give a clear idea of what your work will be about. Often this working title will appear on your transcript, so it is important that it accurately reflect the content of your work.

5. Draft an action plan

In order to receive approval from the College Liaison and the Associate Dean, each prospective Honors student must draft a one-page action plan that outlines how the student intends to balance their workload and make steady progress towards completion of the Honors project.

  1. The student’s name.
  2. The name of the desired thesis director, noting whether or not they’ve agreed to it yet.
  3. A working title for the project.
  4. A description of the student plans to set aside an average of 10 hours per week during the BFA2 Summer semester to work on the honors project.
  5. A description of how the student plans to keep up with the honors project in the Fall and Spring while also working on thesis films. (This might be harder to predict, but it’s good to start anticipating when you’ll be the busiest with the thesis films and when you might have time free for honors. Even just listing the crew positions on thesis that interest you the most will be helpful here, as we can then start mapping out when those crew positions will likely fall within the thesis cycle.)

The action plan does not need to outline specific milestones for the project, as these might not have been determined yet. If a student has thought about these milestones, however, it would be good to include them.

6. Meet with the College Liaison

No later than the end of Week 12 of the BFA2 Spring semester, each prospective Honors student must meet with the College Honors Liaison to review the action plan and discuss the upcoming project.

7. Submit the Honors application form

No later than 4pm on the Friday of Week 13 of the BFA2 Spring semester, students must submit the Honors Application Form to the College Honors Liaison AND to the Honors Program, via their Honors in the Major Portal. Students will need to get their form signed by their Thesis Director before turning it into the College Liaison; the College Liaison will then sign the form and collect the signature of the Associate Dean.

8. Secure all committee members

No later than the end of Week 15 of the BFA2 Spring semester, students must have their faculty committee fully formed, including the outside member. (Students should start the work of securing their outside member as early as possible, as this committee position is usually the hardest to fill.)

Honors Committee

Each student is guided by a faculty committee that includes:

  • A Thesis Director from the College of Motion Picture Arts
  • A second faculty member from the College of Motion Picture Arts
  • An outside faculty member from another department
  • An optional, fourth committee member from any department, if desired

Members of the faculty committee must read and approve the student’s prospectus, review the final thesis project, and attend the formal defense. When selecting a faculty committee, it is important for students to go over a proposed timeline and give the committee member an opportunity to discuss any conflicts with their schedule. Ideally the full committee will be present on campus for the duration of the project.

Thesis Director

The Thesis Director is the primary supervisor and instructor of record for the Honors thesis, serving as a mentor and resource for the student throughout the process. Thesis Directors will assist students in defining the scope of their project, developing their prospectus, and setting individualized milestones for each semester.

As students progress through each semester, the Thesis Director is responsible for reporting on the student’s progress to the Department Liaison at regular intervals and is responsible for assigning a letter grade for each semester of Honors work.

The Thesis Director chairs the faculty committee for the thesis defense.

Other committee members

The College Honors Liaison and Thesis Director guide students in selecting the other committee members, which must include one additional faculty member from the College of Motion Picture Arts and one faculty member from another department. Students are required to have their committee fully formed no later than Week 13 of the BFA2 Spring semester.

Faculty committee members do not need to be experts in the specific area of the research, but should have an interest in the topic and in helping the student. They generally have much less responsibility than the Thesis Director, but do need to commit to the full project timeline. All committee members must read and approve the student’s prospectus, review the final thesis project, and attend the formal defense. Some committee members may choose to play a more active role throughout the whole process, but it is not required.

Please note that many outside members do not teach during the summer, so students need to make sure in advance that they are willing to read and approve a prospectus before the deadline in the BFA2 Summer semester.

College Honors Liaison

Dr. Lisa Tripp serves as the Honors Liaison for the College of Motion Picture Arts. Think of her as the primary point person for any general questions about the process of completing an Honors Thesis and for information about CMPA-specific requirements for Honors in the Major.

Dr. Tripp works with Thesis Directors each semester to ensure that Honors students are hitting their milestones and are remaining in good standing within the Honors Program.

College Honors Liaisons also serve as a point of connection between Honors students and faculty members who would be suitable Thesis Directors or committee members. These Liaisons are invaluable resources for students who know what they want to do for their Honors Thesis and are hoping to connect with faculty who have similar interests.

Honors Prospectus

The Prospectus serves as a proposal for the project, giving the faculty committee background information about the work, outlining the research/creative methods, the major milestones, and the expectations for the project’s outcome. The Thesis Director will help guide the student in the drafting of the prospectus.

  • Students should plan to meet with their Thesis Director in the first week of the BFA2 Summer semester to begin work on the prospectus.
  • By Friday of Week 4, students must send a draft of the prospectus to their full committee, to receive notes and feedback.
  • By Friday of Week 7, students must turn in a hard copy of their prospectus, with a signed copy of the Prospectus Approval Form, to the Honors Program and the College’s Honors Liaison.

Prospectus content

A strong prospectus typically includes the following elements:

Project Description

Describe the project’s nature and purpose, the issues it will address, and its significance to the field. Including a critical review of related work in the field, to provide background information and to demonstrate the need for the project is also recommended. 

Research Methods/Creative Activities

Describe the research methods and/or creative activities that will be undertaken, along with an explanation of why your approach is appropriate for the project. The proposal should be clearly understandable by those not in your field, so jargon should be avoided.

Schedule of Project Activities

Provide a timeline indicating the amount of progress anticipated over the course of the year, including the completion dates for major milestones along the way. At minimum, include mid-semester and end-of-semester milestones for summer, fall, and spring. 


Include a short bibliography and/or filmography for texts you have reviewed, or intend to review, as part of your research for the project.

Honors Defense

Students complete their Honors Thesis by way of a formal, oral defense in front of their faculty committee during their final semester of thesis work. All defenses must occur with at least two weeks remaining in the semester, to allow time for revisions to be completed, should they be requested by the faculty committee. Following the defense, the thesis must be approved by all members of the faculty committee for Honors to be awarded.

Defense announcement

Within the first four weeks of the defense semester, students must schedule the day, time, and location of their defense and get it approved by the full faculty committee. All members of the faculty committee must be present at the time of defense, although one faculty member may participate remotely.

Once scheduled, students must complete the Defense Announcement Form and turn it in to the Honors Program office (HSF2003) by no later than 4pm the day of the posted deadline. The form requires signatures from all of the faculty committee members, so plan ahead.

The defense

Defenses usually take place in the Faculty Conference Room on the first floor, but may take place in other venues. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure the location is reserved and available during the time of the defense.

The defense will typically be structured in the following manner, although the thesis director may choose another structure, if deemed appropriate:

  1. The student introduces their committee members;
  2. The student is asked to leave the room, so that the faculty committee may discuss the work amongst themselves for a few minutes;
  3. The student is invited back into the room and makes an oral presentation of 15-20 minutes;
  4. The faculty committee ask the student questions for 30-40 minutes;
  5. The student is asked to leave the room again, so that the faculty committee may decide an outcome;
  6. The student is invited back into the room and the thesis director either:
    1. Congratulates the student for passing the defense and the committee signs the defense certificate; or,
    2. Describes revisions that the faculty committee is requiring in order for the student to pass.

Paperwork and archiving

Upon successful completion of the thesis defense, students must submit the following forms to the Honors Program Office:

  • Defense Certificate – which must be signed by all the members of the faculty committee.
  • Embargo Request Form – which is used to request that the thesis be kept hidden on the archive for a specified amount of time. It is not recommended for general use but is available as an option if the display on DigiNole could negatively impact the student’s future plans (mainly for creative projects and papers in line for publication). This form is optional and should be signed by the student and the thesis director.

All undergraduate theses published at FSU are housed in the DigiNole archive. Students must submit their final signed thesis to the archive, either as a .pdf, .doc, or .docx file by the final day of classes in order to officially earn Honors in the Major.