James Madison University

Bachelor's Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Honors Program

Coordinator: Dr. Lincoln Gray (graylc@jmu.edu)

The Communication Sciences and Disorders Department enjoys a close relationship with the JMU Honors Program. We welcome this opportunity to share a few of the potential benefits of this relationship and to showcase the roster of those whose published honors theses are available in Carrier Library.  

JMU Honors students bring many gifts to the CSD Department. The motivation to pursue learning outside the rigors of a standard curriculum is always welcomed, but the CSD faculty is particularly interested in students who pursue an area of faculty interest for additional learning experiences. The opportunities to work with an individual mentor and to engage in scholarly research outside the classroom provide additional nurturance for Honors students’ gifts. Students who have the desire, creativity, work ethic, and the commitment to apply their talents to work independently or with other undergraduate and graduate students on projects devoted to unique clinical populations, research in animal models, investigations of treatment interventions, and raising and answering scholarly questions, should check out the Honors Program.

How to become an Honors Student  


Students can enter the Honors Program through two avenues:

  1. Entering freshmen who have at least a 3.5 high school GPA and high scores on their SAT or ACT are invited to join the Academic Honors Program as Honors Scholars. These students take 9 credits of GenEd honors courses, 9 credits of honors electives, and 6 credits of multidisciplinary honors seminars and colloquia. As long as they maintain a 3.25 GPA, they are also eligible for 6 credits of honors research in their major. CSD 499 is designated for these students who are expected to identify a research mentor during the fall or spring term of their junior year, select a research topic and plan and a committee of readers by spring semester’s end, and then engage in the appropriate research during the senior year. This research culminates in a published honors thesis that is bound and catalogued in JMU’s Carrier Library. Honors Scholars also graduate with distinction and their thesis title and chair are listed in the graduation program.
  2. Other students who maintain a 3.25 GPA and demonstrate “sufficient evidence of initiative, originality and intellectual maturity to warrant the expectation of distinction” (James Madison University Undergraduate Catalog, 2005-2006, p. 44) are also permitted to apply to the Senior Honors Project Program and, if accepted by the Honors Program, engage in 6 hours of honors research in their major. CSD 499 is also designated for these Senior Honors students who are expected to follow the same procedures in identifying a research mentor during the fall or spring term of their junior year, select a research topic and plan, along with a committee of readers by spring semester’s end, and then complete the research plan and a publishable thesis during the senior year.

The CSD Department has had an impressive listing of Honors Scholars and Senior Honors Students since the Honors Program’s establishment in 1995. We welcome opportunities to expand that number over the decades to come. For more information, please contact our Department liaison to the Honors Program, Dr. Lincoln Gray (graylc@jmu.edu)

CSD Honors Scholars and their published theses


  • Stephanie Stone Swartz (1995). Predicting academic success in the speech-language pathology graduate program at James Madison University . Chair: C. Runyan.
  • Kathryn Dunlap (1995). A comparative study of public school speech-language pathologists in Virginia : 1982 vs. 1994. Chair: C. Bennett
  • Anna Leonie White (1995). Admission profile for graduate students in speech-language pathology. Chair: C. Runyan.
  • Molley E. Blaney (1995). Meniere's disease: A case for holistic treatment. Chair: B. Seal.
  • Jennifer Leigh Crawford (1995). Analyses of the current and projected education and training of TBI care specialists in Virginia 's long-term care facilities . Chair: N. O’Hare.
  • Kerry Frances Callahan (1996). Assessment of children with Autistic disorder using the Autism Screening Instrument for Educational Planning. Chair: B. Seal.
  • Shiree Janette Conlin (1996). Changes in attitudes toward children who speak Appalachian English. Chair: B. Seal.
  • Jeanne Andrea Schmecht (1996). Combined use of spoken language and sign language in children with hearing losses. Chair: B. Seal.
  • Michelle Marie Miles (1997). Perceptions of three American regional dialects. Chair: M. Filter.
  • Pamela L. Toth (1997). Therapeutic effectiveness of an intensive treatment approach using the CAFET. Chair: C. Runyan.
  • Diana Michele Toelle (1998). Inclusion philosophy: The placement of deaf and hard of hearing students. Chair: B. Seal.
  • Kirsten Ann Gallahue (1998). Velo-cardio-facial syndrome: A case study. Chair: C. Runyan.
  • Megan Elizabeth Wehner (1998). Sensory integration therapy and speech-language pathology for individuals diagnosed with autistic disorder. Chair: B. Seal.
  • Jessica Lynn Blank (1999). The fluency rules program and a special needs child: A case study . Chair: C. Runyan.
  • Carolyn Eileen Keating (2000). American Sign Language: Its academic status in Virginia 's secondary and higher education institutions. Chair: B. Seal.
  • Jane Elizabeth Guschke (2001). The speech-language pathologist's role in the pre-vocational and vocational training of autistic individuals. Chair: B. Seal.
  • Jennifer L. McCathran (2001). Speech rate in individuals with ataxic dysarthria caused by traumatic brain injury. Chair: M. Gottfried.
  • Amy K. Stone (2001). The clinical effectiveness of two stuttering treatment programs: FRP with or without the CAFET. Chair: C. Runyan.
  • Sara Jean Kirkpatrick (2002). The role of prosody in infant word recognition ability. Chair: R. Depaolis.
  • Christa Catherine Block (2002). Myofunctional therapy: A historical perspective. Chair: C. Runyan.
  • Meredith L. MacAskill (2002). Specific language impairment: A review of early intervention and preschool treatment options. Chair: C. Bennett.
  • Lauren Michele Riley (2003). "I'm thankful for Republicans": An assessment of the language of a child with autism. Chair: C. Bennett.
  • Christopher Carlyle France (2003). The influence of low-pass filtering on the performance of normal hearing listeners on a consonant nonsense syllable test. Chair: D. Halling.
  • Lisa Santra (2003). The intelligibility of Spanish speakers speaking English. Chair: M. Filter.
  • Sarah Ashley Wylly (2004). Ethnographic research in the language learning of deaf Hispanic students exposed to American Sign Language. Chair: B. Seal.
  • Lori Elizabeth Hanline (2004). Two stuttering severity paradigms: Time-interval analysis versus event-based assessment. Chair: C. Runyan.
  • Trinity Conrad (2005). Verb use patterns of older adolescents with Specific Language Impairment and normal language. Chair: V. Reed. Winner of the University's 2005 Phi Kappa Phi Award for the Best Senior Honors Thesis
  • Alison Channel (2005). The Role of Contextual Information on Performance-Compresssion and Performance-Expansion Functions. Chair: D. Halling.
  • Julia Braden (2005). Availability and access to speech-language pathology services for Spanish-speaking aphasics . Chair: C. O’Donoghue.
  • Dean, Ashli (2006). Dysphagia in the schools: Survey results for the Southeastern United Stat es . Chair: C. O’Donoghue.
  • Harmon, Jill (2006). Therapists’ perspectives on stroke rehabilitation: A comparative analysis between the United States and Malta . Chair: C. O’Donoghue.

Honors Option Policy regarding CSD Courses (adopted Fall, 2008):


Honors Scholars and Subject-Area Honors Students must enroll in 27 and 24 credits (respectively) of Honors courses, including the 6 credits for a senior honors thesis project.  Six of the 24 or 27 credits can come from the “Honors Option,” an option allowing an Honors student to convert an existing course not already designated as an Honors course into an Honors course.

Honors’ students who are majoring in CSD may request courses at the 300 and 400 levels (with the exception of CSD 420, 421, 470, and 471) to serve as Honors Options courses, provided:

  •  They have earned at least a B+ on each of these three courses: 207, 208, and 209.
  • A faculty member is willing to accommodate a student with the Honors option by assigning a project in addition to those already satisfying the syllabus,and
  • The faculty member and student will determine through a written contract how the additional project will be accomplished and graded, with these grading policies:
    •  The additional project will earn an additional grade  calculated into the student’s final course grade (weighting to be determined in the contract); but
    • If the project grade lowers the student’s course grade below a B+, the course will NOT be counted as an Honors’ option.  (Honors students must maintain a 3.25 average to remain in the Honors Program.  Consequently, work below a B+ or 3.3 would fall below the expected standard.)