The purpose of the honors thesis is to offer qualified theology majors the opportunity to conduct in-depth research with a faculty member.
The opportunity to write an honors thesis is open to any theology major who carries a 3.5 grade-point average or better, both in theology and as a general GPA. The student’s application to write a thesis must be approved at the time of registration by the student’s Theology Department faculty mentor, by the Theology Chair in consultation with other faculty, and by the College Dean.
To write an honors thesis, the student must meet with a Theology Department faculty member in the spring semester of the student’s third year and must secure the faculty member’s support for the project and his or her agreement to act as a mentor for the thesis. Students who are away from campus in the spring semester of their third year should make preliminary contact with both the Chair and prospective mentor either before leaving or during the summer before their fourth year. The mentor should be secured before the start of the fall semester of the fourth year.
Next, the student must submit a written proposal for the thesis to the Chair of Theology, ideally before the end of the spring semester. Students who are away from campus in the spring semester of their third year should present a written proposal to the Chair as soon as possible, but no later than September 1. The proposal should provide the thesis, its context and rationale, a preliminary outline of chapters, and a basic bibliography.
Then, the student should preregister for the three-credit tutorial course Theology 310, “Senior Honors Thesis.”
The Chair will distribute the proposal for comments to faculty members deemed appropriate, who will accept or reject the proposal, ordinarily before the close of the add/drop period in the fall semester.
In the first week of the fall semester of the fourth year, the student must meet with his or her mentor and, after agreeing on specifics of the thesis topic, bibliography, meeting schedule, etc., fill out the tutorial registration form (available in the College Dean’s office).
Throughout the fall semester of the fourth year, the student and mentor will hold regular meetings, culminating in a draft of the thesis. The mentor will submit a grade for the student’s work in the tutorial, ordinarily in the spring semester.
The student will revise the thesis in the first months of the spring semester and submit a final thesis no later than the end of spring break.
The evaluation and approval of the thesis has three stages:
- The first draft of the thesis is due to the mentor at the end of the fall semester. The mentor will offer detailed comments and suggestions for the second draft of the thesis.
- The second draft of the thesis is due to the mentor at the end of the first week in February. The mentor will either accept this draft or pass it back to the student for further revision. When this draft is accepted, the thesis will be given to a second reader, who will read it promptly and return it to the student with suggestions for revision.
- A third and final draft is due to the Department (via the mentor) by the end of the first week following spring break in March. The mentor, the second reader, the Chair, and any other interested faculty members will consult about the thesis and either accept it or require final revisions in order for the thesis to be accepted by graduation. Upon acceptance of the thesis, the Chair will notify the College Dean’s office that a notation of "honors thesis" is to be added to the student’s transcript.