Qualified students who are interested in adding an independent research project to their program of study can apply for entry into the Distinguished Major Program (DMP). In consultation with a faculty advisor, DMP students devise and undertake a course of research in a topic of interest to them that culminates in a thesis of 30–50 pages, which they have an opportunity to present publicly. For most students, this thesis project takes place during their senior year. In the Fall of their senior year, students learn how to conduct and present research in RELG 4800 "Crafting a Research Project in Religious Studies." With the DMP, students are eligible to receive, at graduation, the honor of “Distinction,” “High Distinction,” or “Highest Distinction.”
Entry into the program
- Students qualify for application to the program if they have achieved an overall GPA of 3.40 in all coursework prior to application to the program.
- Students must apply to the DMP program by April 1 of their Third Year (or equivalent). To do this, students will be asked to write a few paragraphs in which they explain why they are interested in the program and outline one or more topics on which they would be interested in writing. The application form (Word) can be downloaded here.
- The applicant must obtain endorsement from a Religious Studies faculty member to apply to the program. This endorsement should be communicated by that faculty member to the DUP. Please contact the Religious Studies DUP if you need help identifying a faculty member for endorsement. These faculty members may serve as the student’s thesis advisor during the writing process in the Fourth Year, working closely with the student to direct reading and research. Students who enter the program without a thesis advisor must choose one in the Fall of their Fourth Year. Later in the process, the student must obtain a second reader for the thesis from the Department as well.
Requirements for the Distinguished Major Program
- The student must complete all 30 credits required for the regular major, including the Majors’ Seminar, RELG 4500.
- In addition to the 30 credits required for the major, students must take RELG 4800 "Crafting a Research Project in Religious Studies" and RELG 4900 "Distinguished Major Thesis." In RELG 4800, students write a thesis proposal outlining the central question(s) of the thesis, its methods, and its sources. Students also compile an annotated bibliography of works relevant to the thesis. RELG 4900 is an independent study in which each student works with a faculty advisor to write the Distinguished Major Thesis.
- The thesis should be 30–50 pages in length. Final copies must be submitted to the faculty advisor and the second reader no later than May 1st for Spring graduation or August graduation. If you are planning a December graduation, please get in touch with the DUP as soon as possible to develop an alternative schedule. A final copy must also be deposited in the department archives by submitting it to the Director of Undergraduate Programs.
Students with any questions about the Distinguished Major Program are encouraged to reach out to the Director of Undergraduate Programs for the department, Noah Salomon, or to one our department's Undergraduate Peer Advisors.