To obtain Honors in Religious Studies, a religious studies major will engage in intensive, scholarly research culminating in a written thesis of approximately 40-60 pages in length that makes a significant original contribution to some aspect of Religious Studies.

To qualify for Honors, a student must have a 3.5 cumulative GPA and a 3.5 GPA in the Religious Studies major both at the time of application for Honors and upon graduation from the College. In addition, students need to consult with their advisors to make sure their course work has adequately prepared them for Honors research.

A student seeking to do Honors research should enroll in a one-credit Junior Honors Tutorial (RELS 399) during the second semester of the Junior year, normally with a member of the Religious Studies department who will serve as the student’s primary thesis advisor for the Honors project. The purpose of the Tutorial is to do preliminary research in order to produce a proposal for the Honors project. In addition to obtaining the sponsorship of a primary thesis advisor, the student must also secure the agreement of two additional readers to serve on the ad hoc Honors committee.

The Honors application must be submitted to the Department of Religious Studies before the beginning of the candidate’s senior year. The application should include a Honors proposal that explains the course work and experiences that have prepared the student for Honors work. The proposal also will clearly articulate the research question that the Honors thesis will address and the methodology to be employed in addressing it. In addition, the candidate’s application should include the names of the thesis advisor and the other members of the Honors Committee, as well as the proposed due date for the final submission of the thesis. The candidate may commence on Honors research once the application has been approved by the faculty of the Religious Studies Department.

In consultation with the Honors committee, the candidate will carry out a focused program of Honors research in the senior year. The committee will set the deadlines for outlines, drafts, and the final submission of the Honors thesis. Deadlines should allow enough time in the candidate’s last semester for resubmission should the Religious Studies faculty determine that revisions are needed. Honors candidates must enroll in at least four and no more than eight credits of the Honors Tutorial (RELS 499) in each of their last two semesters, for a total of eight to sixteen credits of Honors work in their senior year.

Successful completion of the Honors thesis work will also include an oral defense. The Honors thesis and the oral defense must be approved by the three members of the Honors committee. Once the committee has approved it, the thesis is submitted to the other faculty members of the Religious Studies Department for their approval. They may either accept it as submitted, ask for resubmission with revisions, or reject the project. If the project is rejected for Honors, credits earned for the Honors Tutorials may be converted to Directed Inquiry credit, subject to the limits stipulated in the College Catalog (no more than a total of twelve credits of Directed Inquiry may be earned in a single department, and no more than a total of twenty-four credits of Directed Inquiry may be earned in all departments). Honors candidates must also enroll in and successfully complete the Religious Studies Senior Seminar, but they may use their Honors Thesis for the Senior Seminar paper. If a student chooses to use the Honors Thesis for the Senior Seminar paper, s/he may choose, after consulting with the Honors Advisor, the Senior Seminar faculty reader, and the Senior Seminar instructor, to forego the Senior Seminar oral defense.

Deadline for the electronic submission of the abstract to the Special Assistant to the Dean of the Faculty is the last day of classes in the spring term. In order for the student to graduate with honors, final approval by the department must be made by 9:00 a.m. on the due date for final spring term grades. A print copy and a PDF copy (on CD) of the honors thesis must be submitted to the Special Assistant to the Dean of the Faculty by the Friday following Commencement.


Catalogue Information on the Honors program

The College′s Honors Research Guidelines page

Approved by Religious Studies Faculty (February, 2011)