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Department ofCommunication

Senior Thesis & Capstone

All Communication majors complete a senior thesis or capstone course in their senior year.

Thesis students complete substantial papers based on their original research.

Capstone students make films, write feature-length magazine articles, or create public relations materials for a real-world client. Students emerge from thesis or capstone with an example of their best work, suitable for including in applications for jobs and graduate school

Prerequisite Information

All students enrolled in any section of thesis/capstone must complete the following required courses before taking thesis/capstone:

  • COMM 1 (Introduction to Interpersonal Communication)
  • COMM 2 (Media in a Global World) or 2GL (Introduction to Global Media Studies)
  • COMM 12 (Technology & Communication)
  • COMM 20 (Public Speaking)
  • COMM 30 (Introduction to Digital Filmmaking)
  • COMM 40 (Introduction to Journalism) or 40 EL (Introduction to Journalism- Experiential Learning)
  • COMM 110 (Quantitative Research Methods)
  • COMM 111 or 111G (Qualitative Research Methods)
  • There are additional prerequisites for each thesis/capstone section. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have completed them before the quarter in which you plan to take thesis/capstone. Enrolling in a prerequisite during the same quarter as thesis/capstone doesn’t count.
  • Acceptance into any thesis/capstone section is contingent upon the student successfully completing all prerequisites prior to the quarter in which the student is enrolled in thesis/capstone. A student who drops or fails a prerequisite will not be eligible to take thesis/capstone and will forfeit their slot in a thesis/capstone section.

Fall 2019

In the last two decades, new media technologies have been celebrated for ushering in a “global village.” This course focuses on how “new media” such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, cell phones etc. produce and represent global cultures. Our readings and discussions will challenge “culture” as a fixed, monolithic identity and understand new media technologies as embedded in constant processes of contestation and negotiation. Drawing from contemporary discussions, we will cover topics on new media and global cultures such as “hybrid”/convergent cultures, immigration, social movements, changing conceptions of work and labor, and “entrepreneurial culture.” Students will conduct original research that will culminate in a research paper and public presentation.


  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 110 and COMM 111/111G
  • At least one COMM List A Class

Winter 2020

When we get what we wanted, why doesn't that always make us happy? Our relationships are embedded in the pursuit of or loss of happiness. Topics include the transient nature of happiness, our brain’s biological happiness system, the effects of tragic or fortunate events, compassion, prosocial behavior, gratitude, flourishing, savoring and the pursuit of pleasure. We will look at how happiness is affected by winning or by losing, as well as why predicting our future happiness is flawed. Students will gain an understanding of what might (or might not) bring them and those they care about sustained happiness — for decisions they will make throughout their lives. 

This senior seminar will extend the interdisciplinary review of research and theories from COMM 100A. Students will select one interpersonal issue of interest to them in which to apply our new readings, synthesizing and extending what is known about happiness to explain the challenges and issues within that social issue. No partner is needed. Final projects involve individual work, but other assignments will involve working in small teams that will teach an outside class or group about research from the Science of Happiness and demonstrate how it explains specific issues in our relationships. The seminar style requires active participation and presence for in-depth discussions of the research; students who would miss more than one class should not apply.


  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 100A (The Science of Happiness)
  • COMM 110 and 111/111G

Every organization has a culture. Many organizations have multiple co-cultures. Organizational culture is inherently a communication-based phenomenon. Humans have an inherent need to organize into groups that attempt to accomplish a common goal. When these groups form, a unique culture emerges that is representative of the individual members of the organization. With these assumptions in mind, this course will explore a variety of communication-enacted organizational cultures. These cultures typically set guidelines for acceptable behaviors, define the content of communication, and provide a framework for relationships between organizational members. We will explore the way that organizational stakeholders (members, workers, decision-makers, and outside forces) create, sustain, and challenge culture in their organizations by exploring a variety of different communicative antecedents to and consequents of organizational culture. Importantly, we will discuss how culture affects individual members including the impact of culture on communication, conflict management, work-life interaction, interpersonal relationships, stress, social support, health, socialization, assimilation, difference, and gender. As a class, we will explore a variety of organizations and their cultures through reading, discussing, and critiquing original research on culture.


  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 110 and COMM 111/111G
  • COMM 151A (or another management, I/O psychology, or organizational behavior class with the prior approval of the instructor).

This Capstone course will focus on the implementation of a campaign that students have designed to target a health behavior among a target population, which may include fellow SCU students. For projects that target students, we will be working in close partnership with the SCU Wellness Center and Office of Student Life to implement projects that will directly contribute to the health of fellow students on campus. There is also the potential to implement projects for an off-campus partner that focuses on health. Using data and theory-driven strategies, the campaigns will be designed in the prerequisite course, COMM 154A, Foundations of Strategic Campaigns (previously called Public Health Campaigns); thus, the Capstone class itself will focus on the hands-on implementation of the campaign and the evaluation of it's effectiveness. To design an evaluation plan, students will draw from the research skills they learned in COMM 110 and COMM 111. The knowledge and skills learned in this course will help students develop experience applicable to careers in a wide range of strategic communication areas, including public relations, advertising, and public health.


  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 110 and COMM 111/111G
  • COMM 154A Public Health Campaigns

Spring 2020

Students will produce a 3,500-word magazine piece of publishable quality on a significant community issue. Students will generate their own story ideas; find and pursue multiple sources (i.e., experts, people with lived experience, archival research, documents, etc.); engage in field reporting; and write a sophisticated longform story utilizing narrative journalism techniques such as you might find in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. Students are encouraged to view their final project as a portfolio piece when applying for graduate school, journalism internships, or media-related jobs that they can use as evidence of:

  • Superior writing
  • Sophisticated and comprehensive reporting
  • Ability to show initiative in working independently on an in-depth project of their own choosing.  


  • All lower division Communication requirements
  • COMM 110 and COMM 111/111G
  • COMM 141B
  • At least one additional journalism List B (COMM146 is highly recommended, but not required)
  • At least one A-list communication course related to journalism or the media (can be concurrent with Capstone)

Digital Filmmaking is a workshop designed to provide Seniors the context in which they produce their Capstone films and reflect on how the courses in history, theory, and criticism they have taken in the Communication Department have informed their work and filmmaking vision. Digital Filmmaking Capstone entails the production of a 10-minute film and the writing of an 8- to 10-page reflection paper in which students discuss the relationship between theory and practice as it relates to their projects and who they are as filmmakers. Students will work in groups to pre-produce, shoot, and post-produce an original film, and to write an individual vision statement. The goal of Digital Filmmaking Capstone is to give students the chance to refine the technical and aesthetic skills they have learned in the film production sequence and to deepen their understanding of the relation between the practice of filmmaking and film/video theory and criticism.


  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 110 and COMM 111/111G
  • 130B (English Screenwriting is accepted)
  • Two List B courses in film/TV production (131B, 132B, 133B, 134B, 135B) and at least one from the following list: COMM 187A, COMM 188A, COMM 139A, COMM 136A, COMM 137A, COMM 138A, COMM 171A

Working with a partner, students in this section will choose their own topic of communication-related research and design and carry out that study.


  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 110 and COMM 111/111G
  • At least one COMM List A and one COMM List B courses​

How can communication contribute to a more sustainable world? Sustainability encompasses a healthy environment, a vibrant economy, and a socially just society that meets everyone’s needs, including the needs of future generations. Students in this section will work in teams to design research projects on communication for sustainability. Projects may involve testing persuasive frames, messages, news items, entertainment, campaigns, or communication interventions. Research may address communication’s influence on individual or collective beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors.  You might examine effects on conserving water or energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions or waste, engaging in sustainable consumption or political action, or many other issues relevant to the course theme. To maximize the impact of our research, we will share our results and recommendations with SCU’s Center for Sustainability, which implements sustainable solutions on our campus, and other relevant organizations.  You should emerge with a clearer understanding of how you can use research to inform effective communication for sustainability in your civic and professional life.


  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • ​COMM 110 and COMM 111/111G
  • At least one COMM List A course
  • ​COMM 120 Environmental Communication is especially recommended