Honors in Religion
The honors project is designed to provide interested and qualified students 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 graduate with Honors in Religion, a student must have a graduating 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 of Religion. In addition, students, in consultation with their adviser, must also select a second faculty reader. Together the adviser and second reader constitute the student’s thesis committee.
The student, with the assistance of their adviser, must formulate and circulate a proposal for their project, by mid-October of his or her senior year (or mid-March for a Fall deadline). The proposal requires 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.