Fall Term: The oral examination for the thesis must be completed by
the last day of the Exam Period, and the final copy of the thesis must be
submitted one full week before the date of the oral examination. Theses
submitted after that date will not be accepted.
Spring Term: The oral examination for the thesis must be completed by
the last day of the General Examinations and the final copy of the thesis must
be submitted one full week before the date of the oral examination. Theses
submitted after that date will not be accepted.
Advisors may set up their own
schedules with each senior, but they should work within these guidelines. Once
a student and adviser agree on the date for the oral, and thus the date for the
submission of the final and complete thesis (no more additions or corrections
being possible), these become the absolute deadlines for that
The Senior Thesis: Overview
The Honors Thesis in Religion is an
extensive and supervised research project.
It is normally a one-semester course, for which one credit is given,
involving a written thesis of approximately 10,000 words (excluding notes
& bibliography). With permission of the instructor, a student may choose to
do a two-semester thesis for two credits, entailing a paper
of approximately 20,000 words (excluding notes & bibliography).
The thesis project involves three
- A written thesis, which is an extended argument
demonstrating the proposition or point of view proposed by means of
documented evidence and resulting in a coherent conclusion;
- An oral examination on the thesis, which follows
completion of the written work; and
- The colloquia, which involves a presentation of capstone
work completed by all seniors, scheduled for the end of the semester, to
which friends and family can be invited.
As a first step towards focusing on your
thesis work, in the semester prior to registering for your thesis (RELG 497 for
a single-semester thesis, or RELG 498 for the first part of a 2-semester
thesis), you should submit an 8-page proposal to your thesis advisor. A reminder will be sent around midterm each
semester to prepare your proposal. This proposal will be circulated to the
faculty of the DOR for review, comments, and advice. Make sure this proposal
1. Statement of Problem
2. Literature Review
4. Contribution to the Field
5. Comprehensive Bibliography (not
included in the page count)
We encourage you to begin your
preparations early for the thesis. To
help, there is a limited amount of money
from the Religion Department to support early research. This is a competitive grant, and you’ll need
to apply for it at the beginning of the spring semester of your junior
year. We’ll send out information to you
at that time.
focus of the thesis is a subject of the student’s choice, confirmed by the
advisor. Students should select their topics early in order to begin
investigation of the subject, and to secure the thesis advisor of their choice.
Each thesis must have at least two
readers from the department. The first reader is also the principal thesis
advisor, who directs the student in researching and writing the thesis and
determines the letter grade assigned for the course. Additional readers from
outside the department may also be included. Students should make arrangements
regarding readers early in the term to facilitate coordination of schedules.
If a thesis is comparative in
structure, readers from all the fields encompassed should be fully involved as
the work proceeds. One person, however, should assume the role of principal
advisor. We encourage all students, regardless of topic, to be in touch with
their second readers over the course of the thesis process and, especially, to
submit their rough drafts to their second readers for comments and suggestions.
Process throughout the Semester
Students will contact their thesis
advisor as soon as possible at the beginning of the semester. Student and
professor will then establish a schedule for meeting together to work on the
thesis. Thesis meetings are equivalent in importance to class meetings; regular
attendance and progress form part of the final grade
Theses are expected to be revised
throughout the thesis process. The thesis submitted in final form for
the oral exam, however, may not be revised in any way after submission. The
number of final copies of the thesis submitted for the oral must include a
library copy in a black spring-form binder. The latter should be given to the
Chair for deposit in the library. (See Deadlines, above).
Two distinct grades are given for
- A letter-grade for the course, based on the quality of the product (the final paper
turned in by the student), and on the quality of the process (cooperation
of student with professor, meeting deadlines, general involvement with
project). This grade is determined by the thesis advisor.
- A ranking grade based
on both the final written thesis and the oral examination. This grade is
determined by consultation between the first and second readers. It
conforms to the college grading of General Exams and encompasses the
following grades: Distinction, High Pass, Pass, and Fail.
Examiners may not have an oral
examination for a student with a non-passing paper.
The oral examination, of 45 to 50
minutes, is given jointly by the first and second readers of the thesis. The
student must schedule the oral examination in advance with both readers at a
time convenient for all involved. The purpose of the oral examination is
two-fold: to determine whether the student can explain clearly the data and
interpretations presented in the thesis, and to discover whether the student
can go beyond what is written in the thesis. The principal advisor chairs the
examination, but both advisors share in asking questions.
9. Public Thesis Presentation
At the end of the semester, after
the thesis is finished, each writer participates in a public presentation of
his or her thesis. You’ll have about
15-20 minutes to talk about what you’ve done, and there’ll be refreshments
available during and after. Normally,
students invite friends and family to this gathering to help you celebrate you
Notification of Grade
The examiners will inform the
student immediately after the oral whether he or she passed but will not reveal
the specific grade. The Chair will write a formal congratulatory letter,
indicating the ranking grade.
To be awarded Honors in Religion, a
student must have an A- average in those ten courses fulfilling the major
requirements and earn a Distinction on the Senior Thesis and Oral.