Honors in Religion

Procedures for Honors Projects in Religion:

Students who have demonstrated exemplary skill and discipline in their coursework are encouraged to undertake an honors project.  Such students must think carefully about their commitment to completing an intensive research project during their senior year.  In addition, they must be able to articulate a particular question to research.  We recommend that students begin thinking about and discussing a possible project during their junior year so as to take advantage of summer research funding.  Moreover, students must be able to contextualize their question within broader conversations in the discipline.  To this end, it is recommended that honors candidates incorporate work from Religion 390 as part of their honors projects.

To embark on research for an honors project in religion, students enroll in the fall semester of their senior year in an independent study with a department member who has agreed to supervise such a project.  Bear in mind that enrollment in an advanced independent study does not replace the religion major requirement of two 300-level courses (including Religion 390).  Students must submit a copy of their 1-2 page preliminary prospectus to each member of the department by November 1.  The faculty members will discuss the prospectus and the advisor will report back to the student.  Based on feedback received, students submit to each member of the department a copy of their formal prospectus of 6-8 pages (including bibliography) by December 1.  Again, the advisor will report back to the student the evaluation of the department.  If approval is received to proceed with the honors project, a draft of a chapter is due at the end of the fall semester.  Should approval not be granted, it is expected that the student will complete a lengthy research essay at the conclusion of this independent study.  Faculty members and students are at liberty to determine a writing schedule for the honors project; however, they are urged to adhere to the following guidelines:  a second installment in mid-February; a third installment in mid-March and the entire draft completed by the end of the second week in April.

Proposing an honors project:

Students contemplating a program of independent study leading to honors should be aware of the following expectations:

1. Prospectus.  The preliminary prospectus, which is prepared in consultation with the advisor, must clearly indicate the research topic, its theoretical importance in the study of religion, and a methodology for addressing the topic.  The formal prospectus must also include a bibliography.  Approval of the formal prospectus by departmental faculty constitutes acceptance of the student's candidacy for honors.  Copies of past proposals approved by the faculty are available in the department office.  Students should contact the department coordinator, Lynn Brettler, to make arrangements to view this file.

2. Research Paper. Candidates for departmental honors are expected to complete a research paper of high quality. In the past, papers have been about 60-120 pages in length. Papers are to be written in scholarly format and one copy made for each member of the department faculty.  Submit your paper not later than one week before the conclusion of the semester's classes.  Only minor typographical revisions may be made after this date in preparing the permanent copy for the College Library.

3. Presentations.  Honors candidates will offer two presentations to the religion faculty as well as majors, minors, and other interested students.  This is an opportunity for candidates to articulate the various components of his or her project, to anticipate possible limitations of his or her approach, and to consider questions and implications pertaining to his or her research.  The department also regards it as an opportunity to convey expectations regarding honors projects to prospective majors and minors.  The first presentation takes place on the Friday of the second week of the spring semester.  The second presentation is scheduled just prior to the oral examination.

4. Oral Examination. Assuming the research paper merits consideration for honors, an oral examination will be scheduled for the Friday during the reading period at the conclusion of the spring semester.  Conducted by all members of the department faculty, the examination will last about one hour.  Conversations will focus on issues germane to the research paper and its wider implications for the study of religion.

5. Evaluation. On the basis of the research paper, the oral examination, and course work, the departmental faculty will determine whether or not the student is to be granted: (a) no honors; (b) honors; (c) high honors; (d) highest honors.  The faculty considers past course work in religion only in those cases in which no clear consensus emerges on evaluating  the honors paper and oral examinations.  Candidates will be notified of their evaluation after all have completed their oral examinations.

6.  Library.  Error-free copies of research papers evaluated at the honors level or better are to be deposited in the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library not later than 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before the last faculty meeting of the year.  (The Registrar's Office sends guidelines for the specified form and deposit of honors papers in the Library to each candidate.)