Honors requirements

Students majoring in Religion who maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.75 in the major may apply to pursue honors work in the Columbus Roberts Department of Religion during their senior year. These departmental honors require a student to complete the research and writing of a thesis under the direction of a member of the Religion faculty and have the thesis judged by a committee of the Religion faculty. (A students enrolled in REL 420 while working on the thesis may receive three hours of credit for REL 420 if the thesis is judged to have merit.)  The student must also pass an oral examination by a committee of at least three members of the Religion faculty. Upon the completion of a merited thesis and successful oral examination, the student is named a Columbus Roberts Honors Scholar.

Application to pursue honors in Religion

The Religion department invites majors who meet the 3.75 minimum grade point average in the major to  pursue departmental honors. Prospective honors students are encouraged to begin the process by consulting a full-time member of the department or the department chair.

Applications should be submitted during the spring semester of the junior year or the fall semester of the senior year. An application consists of a letter of request addressed to the department chair, in which the student requests permission to pursue honors in Religion, and two copies of an accompanying prospectus that explains the student’s proposed project. If the prospectus is approved by department, the student is considered to be pursuing honors and should register for REL 420 in the term in which the project will be completed.

The prospectus

An honors prospectus should conform to guidelines approved by the department. An honors prospectus should have a title page that includes a proposed title of the honors project, the name of the department, the name of the student submitting the prospectus, and the date the prospectus is submitted. A sample title page is available in the department office.

The text of an honors prospectus should include these components, which are explained further below: a statement of purpose, reasons for pursuing the project, a projected method for achieving the purpose of the project, a tentative outline of the project, a preliminary bibliography, and a request for a particular member of the department to serve as director for the honors project. The final page of the prospectus should provide a list of courses completed in the department, including dates taken and grades received, and any pertinent courses completed elsewhere.

Statement of purpose

The statement of purpose should be a brief description of what the student intends to accomplish through honors work.

Impetus for study

The second section of the prospectus should narrate how the student came to be interested in the proposed topic. The narrative should be as specific as possible and include a description of the context(s) in which the idea of honors work was born.


How will the purpose of the project be achieved? Particular attention should be given to the amount of time projected for each phase of the research and writing of the honors project (including acknowledgment of any preliminary work already completed) and a description of the actual steps envisioned along the way.

Tentative outline

The prospectus should include a tentative outline that demonstrates the planned development of the research and writing. Note the emphasis on “tentative.” Research projects often change shape as more work is completed; students should not consider the outline as final. Once an honors project is begun, however, any change in the outline should be discussed with the director of the project.

Preliminary bibliography

The writing of a prospectus presupposes preliminary research has begun. The prospectus should include a bibliography of primary and secondary sources that will provide the foundation for the proposed project.

Request for director

Students usually develop ambitions toward honors work in relation to a particular area of study and/or guidance from a member of the department. As part of the prospectus, the student should request a faculty member to serve as director. Members of the department will agree upon two additional members who will serve with the director as the honors committee. The honors project director and two other named faculty members will also serve as the oral review committee at the completion of the project.