Senior Thesis | Franciscan University of Steubenville
  • Communication Arts Program

    Senior Thesis Guidelines


    The Senior Thesis, a requirement for graduation, provides an opportunity for Communication Arts majors to explore a communications topic of interest in more depth than in a conventional term paper. The Senior Thesis is normally a research paper which may involve original research or be a scholarly analysis of existing research in a subject area agreed to by the student and his or her advisor.

    As alternatives to the research paper, other options for the Communication Arts Senior Thesis may be proposed by a student. Possibilities include a shorter research project with a public presentation of the results, production of an original video project with full documentation of the process and a public showing of the production, or a full-length dramatic script following industry standards. The student must submit a written proposal for their Senior Thesis project to their thesis advisor and receive approval for the project before beginning work. A student should not assume that alternative forms of the Senior Thesis will automatically be approved. The deadline dates listed below will be followed, with the appropriate project elements required specified by the thesis advisor.

    These Guidelines may be modified by individual Communication Arts faculty members and communicated to the students whose Theses they are directing. Within the first week of the semester, each student is responsible for contacting their Thesis advisor for their specific guidelines. Unless modifications are made and communicated to the student, the Guidelines are to be followed as specified below.

    Meetings with Advisors

    All students registered for COM 434: Senior Thesis are required to meet with their advisor during the first week of classes to discuss their Thesis requirements.

    Unless another schedule is specifically agreed to by the student and his or her advisor, students are expected to meet with their advisor weekly throughout the semester to review the progress on their thesis. These scheduled meetings give the student and advisor the opportunity to identify potential problems and suggest solutions which could benefit the student during the thesis process.

    Thesis Statement

    The Thesis Statement is the central point of the Senior Thesis. It is a statement of opinion that the thesis will defend.


    1. The thesis is expected to be 25-30 pages long, not including references, appendices, etc.
    2. The thesis must include at least 25 expert sources which are used and cited.
    3. The thesis is to be written with a computer and printed on a printer that produces clear, dark text.
    4. The thesis is to follow either the APA or MLA standard for formatting, notation, etc. The Thesis Advisor will determine which standard to follow. APA and MLA reference materials are available in the Saint John Paul II Library, on the World Wide Web and at the University Bookstore.

    Submission Materials

    No later than the deadlines specified below, the student is to submit these items to his or her advisor:

    1. Two printed copies of the Thesis. Each of the printed copies of the thesis must contain a Title Page, Abstract, and a complete list of References. Additional supporting material should be included as needed. Each thesis should be bound in a folder or binder
    2. A 100-word printed Abstract of the thesis.
    3. A CD containing the Abstract and Thesis in Microsoft Word .doc format or .rtf format (including the lists of references and all supporting material).


    The thesis must be submitted by the final deadline for an oral defense. A written defense may also be required periodically during the semester. The student is responsible for making required changes to his or her thesis before submitting it for the final deadline.


    Fall and Spring Semesters:

    • Thesis Statement to Advisor: 3rd week of semester
    • Preliminary Annotated Bibliography (25 sources): 5th week of semester
    • 100-word Abstract and Full-Sentence Outline of Thesis: 9th week of semester
    • Thesis Due: 12th week of semester
    • Final Defense Deadline: 15th week of semester
      *Specific weekly dates to be arranged between the faculty and student.

    Academic Misconduct

    Cheating and/or plagiarism (taking more than seven words of work written by someone else without following proper quotation/reference conventions) of any kind will not be tolerated and will be handled according to the policies specified in the University Catalog.

    The following schedule is in effect. Not meeting deadlines or not including all material specified will affect the thesis grade. The student is responsible for any other verbal or written agreements/deadlines made with the advisor during the semester.

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