Senior Honors Thesis

Religious Studies majors who have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.65 or higher after six semesters are eligible to apply for candidacy for departmental senior honors. Students considering graduate or professional school are especially encouraged to write a senior thesis, although any undergraduate will benefit greatly from this experience.

The senior honors thesis is a research project that is significantly longer normally 50-75 pages long, but no fewer than 40 pages and no longer than 100 pages. As such it is more intellectually sophisticated than the usual term paper. Each honors candidate works closely with a faculty member associated with the Religious Studies program in developing an independent, focused work of scholarship that builds on the courses the student has taken as a Religious Studies major.

Honors Thesis Time Line

Spring Semester of Junior Year

Apply for senior honors & create preliminary research and writing plan

Summer between Junior and Senior Year

Preliminary reading and research

Fall of Senior Year

Detailed outline of thesis; Complete bibliography; Update research and writing plan

Spring of Senior Year

Complete thesis & participate in thesis review

End of Senior Year

Present senior honors research at Religious Studies Senior Symposium

Apply for Senior Honors

Apply for Senior Honors

Interested students should first consult with their major advisor, no later than the second semester of their junior year, about the feasibility of writing an honor’s thesis and names of possible thesis advisors. After having identified an appropriate faculty member associated with the Religious Studies Program who is willing to serve as thesis advisor, the student should meet with the faculty member to discuss the feasibility of his or her thesis topic. Then the student will need to apply for candidacy. The application form includes a 1-2 page thesis proposal, a preliminary working bibliography, and a current unofficial transcript. It will also require the signature of the thesis advisor. The completed application should then be submitted to the director of the Religious Studies program for final approval before the end of the spring semester of the senior year.

Download the application

Once Approved

Once a student's senior honors thesis application is approved, candidates should begin planning how to best use the summer months for preliminary reading and research. Students approved for an honors thesis will enroll in L23 498 ReSt “Independent Work for Senior Honors I” for the fall semester and L23 499 ReSt “Independent Work for Senior Honors II” for the spring semester. Students will receive a total of 6 units towards the major for their work on their honors thesis

Review our senior honors guidelines and milestones

Planning and Dedication

Writing a senior honor’s thesis is no easy task. The research paper is significantly longer and more intellectually sophisticated than the usual term paper. To complete a 50-75 page, multiple chapter thesis it takes dedicated planning and preparation on the part of both the student candidate and the thesis advisor. Our expectations of both students and thesis advisors are:

The responsibilities of the candidate for honors include:

  • Attending regularly scheduled meetings with the thesis advisor
  • Adhering to the research and writing plan jointly developed by the candidate and thesis advisor
  • Seeking out the help when needed from thesis advisor, subject librarians, and relevant faculty members
  • Meeting agreed-upon deadlines
  • Abiding by the guidelines outlined in the Statement of Student Academic Integrity

The responsibilities of the thesis advisor include:

  • Setting up regular meetings with the candidate
  • Helping the candidate design a research and writing plan
  • Monitoring the candidate’s progress through regular meetings and written deadlines
  • Offering feedback in a timely fashion



A detailed list of milestones and deadlines for successful senior honors completion can be found in our Guidelines for Senior Honors in Religious Studies.

Honors Levels

Upon certification by the department that the Honors program has been satisfactorily completed, the student may be awarded, by the College of Arts & Sciences, the A.B. cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude according to the following proportions: the top 15 percent in overall grade point average of Latin honors candidates who complete the necessary requirements of their major departments will graduate summa cum laude; the next 35 percent magna cum laude; the next 50 percent cum laude. Grade point average is calculated based on the student’s complete body of undergraduate scholarship, including the final semester’s coursework. Thus the level awarded at graduation may be the same or lower than what was given by the departmental committee.

See what our past honors students have researched!

Past Honors Theses Titles