The honors project is designed to provide interested and qualified majors in Religious Studies with the opportunity to engage in independent study and research under faculty supervision. As described below, it generally involves planning and preparation beginning, at the latest, in the fall of the student’s senior year.
The honors project provides several benefits to participants. First, it offers advanced students the opportunity to develop high-level research skills, improve their analytical and writing skills, and penetrate a topic that has sparked the student’s interest in their more general coursework. Second, it is an opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty adviser as they pursue their own research project. Many find this invaluable both as an educational experience and a means of getting to know faculty members personally. Finally, an honors project is particularly beneficial for students considering graduate school. Not surprisingly, admission officers (and even corporate representatives for that matter) are impressed with students motivated enough to execute a high-level research project that also entails the development of knowledge and skills important for success in graduate school. Moreover, faculty advisers, because they get to know the student well, often become a useful resource for future letters of recommendation.
To be eligible for an Honors in Religion, a student must have completed at least four courses in Religion and have a grade point average of 3.2 overall and 3.5 in Religion. The student must also propose, carry out, and present his or her project within the timetable noted below. While most honors projects are in the form of a written thesis, other formats are possible. The student may register for three hours of Honors in Religion either in the Fall or Spring of his or her senior year. Note that Honors designation is contingent upon approval of the project by the student’s Honors Committee and the final grade point average. This typically means receiving at least an “A-” on the thesis. Projects that are not approved as “honors” will be reclassified as a reading course on the student’s transcript.
Procedures and Timetable
Interested students should begin thinking about possible honors projects during the Spring and Summer before their senior year. It may be helpful to explore a desired topic by way of a reading course during an academic semester.
Qualified and interested students should select a suitable faculty member to work with on the project. The adviser must be a full-time member of the Department for the Study of Religions. In addition, students, in consultation with their adviser, must also select a second faculty reader from the Department. Together the adviser and second reader constitute the student’s thesis committee.
During the first weeks of the semester, the student should indicate their intent to pursue Honors by filling out this form and sending it to their proposed adviser. The student should then meet with their proposed adviser to discuss expectations and the process. With an agreed upon plan and topic in place, the student, with the assistance of their adviser, must formulate a proposal for their project. The initial draft of this proposal should be sent to your adviser by the last week of September (or by the end of February for a Fall deadline). The student will then revise their proposal and submit it to their adviser by October 15 of his or her senior year (or mid-March for a Fall deadline). The adviser will then submit the proposal to the Honors Committee for Departmental approval.
The written proposal should include the following:
- Thesis: a research question to be studied, a potential hypothesis that answers the research question, and an explanation of the project’s significance.
- Texts/Sources: identify the chief texts or sources, primary and secondary, to be used in the research and address theoretical and methodological frameworks that will inform the project.
- Individual Preparation: briefly explain coursework and readings that have prepared the student for this topic. This would include language facility where it is relevant.
- Bibliography: include an initial unannotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources, which will indicate that the student has already given the project considerable thought. It should include foreign language sources if they are required by the faculty adviser for the proposed project.
The adviser will supervise the student’s research, including, in most cases, the preparation of a final thesis. Sometime in April, (or November for a Fall deadline), the student will submit their final thesis to their thesis committee. The student will then meet with their thesis committee to discuss the project. The final project is due by April 15th (or December 1st for the Fall).
The final draft of the written thesis should normally be between 30 and 50 pages, conform in style and form to acceptable scholarly standards, and be submitted by April 15th/December 1st of the student’s senior year. If the project is something other than a written thesis, parameters for the final project should be agreed upon with the faculty adviser at the proposal stage.
Following submission of the project, each student will be required to meet with his/her Committee for formal discussion and review. A recommendation of honors at graduation will be made by the Department to the Dean of the College based upon the student’s overall academic record and the quality of the final project.
Consider the option of Honors, look at requirements for Honors, discuss the possibility of Honors with your adviser or a professor from the Department, reflect on possible topics and research questions.
Fall Senior Year
- Early September: Indicate intent to pursue Honors by filling out this form and emailing it to your proposed adviser.
- Early to mid-September: Meet with your adviser to discuss expectations, develop a plan, and begin formulating your thesis proposal.
- Mid to Late September: Submit thesis proposal draft to your adviser.
- Late September to Early October: Revise thesis proposal.
- Early to mid-October: Submit polished proposal to thesis adviser by October 15.