Honors Program in Religious Studies

The Honors Program in Religious Studies guides outstanding majors in independent, critical inquiry of the academic study of religion. Successful completion of the program is noted on the student's transcript and diploma, as well as in the commencement and honors convocation programs.


  • To expose highly qualified students to the challenges of identifying problems or issues deserving systematic investigation in the academic study of religion and to engage them in independent, sustained, critical inquiry into such issues.
  • To allow and encourage such students to formulate an individualized program of study with a member of the faculty.
  • To provide qualified undergraduates an opportunity for intellectual experience analogous to the kind of self-disciplined study typical of graduate work. 
  • To give official departmental recognition to religious studies majors who demonstrate their capacity for superior achievement.


To be admitted, the student must first have junior standing, have completed at least 9 hours of coursework required for the major in religious studies, and have a 3.25 or higher GPA both overall and in religious studies. Interested students should contact the Religious Studies Honors Director, who will then guide them through the details of application for admission and will appoint an honors committee to evaluate the honors paper.

Graduation Requirements

To graduate with Honors in Religious Studies, a student must:

  • Satisfactorily complete no fewer than 9 credit hours of honors-option coursework (all courses numbered REL 314 and higher with consent of the instructor) including at least one 400-level course. Other honors-option courses may occasionally be substituted subject to the approval of the Honors Director and the course instructor.
  • Submit a substantial honors paper on a critical issue in the field of religion as part of an independent study course (REL 498). The honors paper may be based on a paper submitted earlier to an honors option course, but the final paper must be substantially rewritten during the independent study course to reflect the reading and research requirements of the course. The paper should incorporate primary material and attention to secondary literature, as well as demonstrate methodological awareness. The honors paper will be evaluated by the student's honors committee. Appointed by the Honors Director, the honors committee will usually consist of three faculty members, including the professor of REL 498 and (if applicable) the professor for whom the paper was originally written.
  • Maintain a 3.25 GPA within the major and overall. A student taking an honors-option course is expected to meet additional demands not placed upon non-honors students taking the same course. The specific methods for achieving this objective will be determined by the instructor, in consultation with the student. Honors credit will be given only if the above assignment is completed within the semester in which the class is taken and only if a grade of B or higher is earned in the class. The student may be released without penalty from the honors-option obligation after consultation with, and approval by, the instructor.