Religious Studies Honors


The honors program is designed to enable advanced students to do independent study and research in Religious Studies. The program culminates in the writing of a senior thesis under the direction of a faculty member who serves as your thesis advisor.

Eligibility Requirements:

To be eligible for the honors program, a student must: be a Religious Studies major have an overall GPA of 3.20 or better have a GPA of 3.50 or better in Religious Studies coursework taken at UNM submit an application to the Religious Studies honors advisor by the beginning of the senior year

Application Procedure:

Students interested in the honors program in Religious Studies ideally should submit an application to the Religious Studies honors advisor during their junior year, but by the beginning of their senior year at the latest. Admission to honors candidacy cannot be granted later than the beginning of the student's senior year. Once a student's application has been approved, a meeting with the Religious Studies honors advisor should be scheduled to secure a thesis committee and obtain information on completing the honors program. The thesis committee is composed of the thesis advisor and a second reader (or readers) chosen by the honors advisor in consultation with the thesis advisor and the student.

Required Honors Coursework:

Students approved for honors in Religious Studies must complete two consecutive semesters of Religion 497 (Independent Studies of three credit hours each), normally taken in the senior year. Before enrolling in these courses, the student selects one Religious Studies faculty member to serve as his or her thesis advisor, meets with that faculty member to secure approval, and then registers for Religion 497 with that instructor.

During the first 497 course, normally taken in the fall semester of senior year, the student will choose a topic, develop (with the thesis advisor) a timetable for completion of the thesis and its component parts, develop a research question, read relevant primary and scholarly literature, and be in regular contact with the thesis advisor to discuss and monitor the student's progress. By the end of this course, the student will submit to the thesis advisor a 750- to 1,000-word thesis proposal and a preliminary annotated bibliography that reflects the student's research.
All the project components listed above (topic, timetable, research question, thesis proposal, and annotated bibliography) must be submitted to both the thesis advisor and the Religious Studies honors advisor. If these requirements are not completed within the first 497 semester, the student will be given a grade of NC and will not be permitted to continue in the honors program. If all submissions are approved, the thesis advisor will assign a letter grade for the semester, and the student may register for the second 497 course.

The second 497 course is normally taken during the spring semester of the senior year with the same faculty member who supervised your fall course. (With the permission of the honors advisor, the two courses may be taken in the same semester.) Building on the work of the previous semester of 497, the honors candidate will complete the necessary research and writing of the honors thesis in close consultation with the thesis advisor.

In order for the student to graduate with Religious Studies honors, the thesis must be submitted no later than the Monday of the twelfth week of the semester. The length of the thesis is determined by the thesis advisor, but it must be at least 25 pages (about 8,000 words in Times New Roman), not including the bibliography. The letter grade for the second 497 course will be the same grade given to the finished thesis.

Grading the Thesis and Awarding of Honors:

Each honors thesis will be read and graded by the thesis committee. The thesis grade will be the average of the grades assigned by the readers. Students receiving a grade of B or better on the thesis and maintaining at least a 3.50 GPA in Religious Studies coursework will be awarded honors in Religious Studies.

3.86-4.00, Summa Cum Laude
3.66-3.85, Magna Cum Laude
3.50-3.65, Cum Laude

If the student fails to earn a grade of B or higher on the honors thesis or fails to meet the GPA requirements for honors at the time of graduation, the student may still receive credit for the Religion 497 courses and graduate, albeit without honors.

Optional Presentation:

If the student wishes, she or he may arrange to make a formal presentation of the thesis. There is no extra credit for this; but the student will gain experience in academic presenting and get feedback on his or her work from a broader array of people in the Religious Studies program. This is especially valuable for students planning to go on to graduate school.

Awarding of Prize:

A cash prize of $300 will be awarded to the most outstanding Religious Studies honors thesis in a given academic year, at the discretion of the Religious Studies Committee. It will be given at the end of the spring semester.

For More Information: Please contact the honors advisor, Donna Ray. Office: Humanities 461. Email: