Department of Religious Studies

Religious Studies Honors Program

The Religious Studies Honors Program provides majors who have demonstrated academic excellence with the opportunity to conduct original, in-depth research, culminating in a written honors thesis. A senior thesis is a sustained examination of a central idea or question, developed under the guidance of a faculty advisor. As a capstone project, your thesis should grow out of your personal interests and passions as you have pursued them in courses, internships, travel, and experiences during your college years. The thesis should be on a topic relevant to Religious Studies and will be developed under the supervision of a faculty member with expertise in your area of interest. The faculty advisor is typically a member of the Religious Studies Department but can also be a faculty member from a related department who has significant research and teaching interests in the study of religion. Writing the thesis, which is both longer and more intellectually sophisticated than other college writing assignments, is for many honors students the most fulfilling experience of their undergraduate careers.

Majors who are candidates for Special Honors in Religious Studies should apply for admission to the Honors Program during the spring semester of their third year. Honors students will enroll in the Honors Tutorial Course 679HA and 679HB during the fall and spring semesters, giving them 6 hours of credit in Religious Studies for the research and writing of a senior thesis.

The deadline to apply for the academic year 2021-2022 is Friday, August 27, 2021. However, it is strongly recommended that students apply well before this date.

Admission Requirements

  • UT GPA of at least 3.0
  • Religious Studies GPA of a least 3.5
  • Upper-division standing
  • Strong research and writing skills. Completion of one, preferably two, writing flag courses with a grade of B+ or higher is strongly preferred.

Special Circumstances:

  • Transfer students may apply for the Honors Program.
  • We discourage students from receiving special honors in two departments as this necessitates writing two theses.
  • Plan II/ Religious Studies simultaneous majors wishing to write a Religious Studies thesis should apply. A Religious Studies thesis will satisfy the Plan II thesis requirement. Students pursuing this option will receive Special Honors in Religious Studies (not Plan II).
  • It is possible to register for 679HA in the spring semester and 679HB in the fall. Occasionally, a student can enroll in either course over the summer. Students should consult the honors director in these situations.


  1. Consult the RS Academic Advisor before or during the Spring of your third year. The earlier you start thinking about your project the better.
  2. Find a faculty member who will agree to serve as your faculty advisor. Ideally this person should be a professor who shares your particular interests, and one with whom you have already developed a rapport.
  3. Download the Honors Application and submit it with your faculty advisor's signature and a short personal statement to the Academic Advisor by the deadline.
  4. Once approval is obtained, the Academic Advisor will enroll you in RS 679HA. This is a three-hour class extending over two semesters. The student and faculty advisor will set up times to meet and discuss the thesis.

To earn "Special Honors in Religious Studies," students must:

  • Complete thirty-three semester hours of Religious Studies coursework, including completion of all major requirements
  • Complete Religious Studies 679HA, Honors Tutorial Course, with a grade of at least B
  • Complete Religious Studies 679HB, Honors Tutorial Course, with a grade of A, in which the student completes a senior thesis approved by his or her faculty advisor and second reader
  • Maintain UT GPA of at least 3.0
  • Maintain Religious Studies GPA of at least 3.5