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Requirements for BA in Religion

The goal of a major in religion is to achieve an understanding of the nature of diverse religions, the methods employed in their study, and a measure of competence with a specific tradition or area. Seminars, reading courses, study abroad options, and the senior tutorial allow intensive study of particular topics. Students also may enroll in selected courses at Colgate Rochester Divinity School/Bexley Hall/Crozer Theological Seminary and take advantage of its distinguished theological library.

A minimum of 10 courses is required:

  1. Either REL 101 or 102.
  2. One course in the history of a tradition, either REL 103, 104, 105, 106, or 107.
  3. REL 293, normally taken in the junior year.
  4. Six other courses, no more than three of which may focus on the same religious tradition.
  5. Senior Seminar (REL 389) or Senior Tutorial (REL 393).

A major in religion may typically include no more than three courses numbered below 110.

Honors in Religion

Students may earn their degree in Religion with honors. This program is open only to students who have compiled a superior academic record, who by virtue of their previous coursework are prepared to pursue an advanced research project, and who are capable of independent work of high quality. The honors sequence culminates in the successful completion and defense of a senior thesis. Typically, students undertake the senior thesis for honors after completing an independent study as preparation in a previous semester.

The following examples should help to distinguish between an independent study or senior project in religion and the senior project, taken as part of an honors sequence, in terms of their increasing specificity or depth:

Criteria for Honors in Religion

  1. An overall GPA of at least 3 (B).
  2. A departmental GPA of at least 3.7 (A-) by the start of the seventh semester or senior year.
  3. Eight Credits of honors course work with a grade of at least B+ selected from the following honors courses: REL 293 (Theories of Religion), REL 391 (Independent Study), REL 392 (Honors Research).
  4. Completion of either REL 391 or 392 with at least a B+, normally in the fall semester of the senior year.
  5. Completion of REL 393 (Senior Project).
  6. A successful oral defense of the thesis.

Requirements and Deadlines

  1. The student should find a faculty member who is willing to serve as the adviser for REL 391 or 392.
  2. The student should write a brief proposal which describes the thesis project to be undertaken. The student should secure the signature of a thesis adviser, indicating his or her endorsement of the project, and then submit the proposal to the Chair of the Department. The Chair will approve it, disapprove it, or approve it subject to modification, and the Chair will appoint a second reader. The deadline for application is DECEMBER 1 for students who plan to graduate at the end of the following spring semester.
  3. Enroll in REL 393.
  4. The student should arrange a meeting with the second reader to discuss the proposed project.
  5. By the end of the second week of the spring semester, the candidate should have prepared a substantial bibliography and outline of research for the thesis. This should be done in consultation with and approved by the thesis adviser.
  6. The student should complete the thesis under the supervision of both readers. Students are strongly encouraged to provide both readers with drafts of the thesis so that the suggestions of the readers may be taken into account. The final draft should be completed by the end of the twelfth week of classes.
  7. The student will schedule an oral defense with the two readers. This must be held before the end of the reading period at the end of the semester.
  8. The readers will make a recommendation to the Chair as to whether honors should be awarded. The Chair will contact the student prior to graduation to inform the student whether the degree will be awarded with honors. If honors is denied, the student will receive a grade and credit for a Senior Project.
  9. The student should provide each reader and the Department Office with a copy of the final accepted version of the thesis within 48 hours after the defense.

Senior Project in Religion

1. REL 393: Senior Project

A requirement of the major concentration in Religion is the successful completion of either REL 389: Senior Seminar, or REL 393: Senior Project. This latter course is intended to be the culmination of the student's undergraduate work in religion. In it the student designs a research proposal, assembles a bibliography of the relevant literature; reads, thinks, consults with a faculty adviser, and writes a paper, the senior thesis. This course thus provides an opportunity to pursue independent research on a topic of one's own choosing, and to develop and defend answers to questions of interest to the student. Ideally, the work in this course will draw on a well-designed concentration in religion; in other words, previous coursework should prepare the student for this course. It should be noted that one of the primary motivations for choosing the project is that it makes it possible for students to conduct advanced or specialized work, in close consultation with a faculty member.

2. Expectations

The senior thesis is not an honors thesis; it is rather an assignment required of all concentrators in religion who do not take REL 389. It may be helpful to think of REL 393 as an independent study (like REL 391) for which a paper is written; the main difference between REL 391 and REL 393 is that the latter presupposes a greater preparation in previous coursework and requires the preparation of a single paper. The following examples should help to distinguish between the two courses in terms of their increasing specificity or depth:

The senior thesis will be graded by the student's adviser according to the same standards of excellence that apply in other courses offered by the Department. There is no requirement concerning the length of the senior thesis; some have been as short as fifteen or twenty pages, and some have been considerably longer.

3. The Two-semester Option

A student may elect to devote two semesters to the research and writing of the senior thesis. In this case, the student should register for REL 392, Honors Research, in the fall of the senior year and REL 393 in the spring semester. Since the two-semester option is an elective, students who choose to register for REL 393 without first taking REL 392 are not to be penalized.

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