Distinguished Major Program


Qualified students who are interested in adding an independent research project to their program of study can apply for entry into the Distinguished Majors Program (DMP). In consultation with a faculty advisor, DMP students devise and undertake a course of research in a topic of interest to them culminates in a thesis of 30–50 pages, which they have an opportunity to present publicly. They learn how to conduct and present research in the RELG 4800 Crafting a Research Project in Religious Studies. Students are eligible to receive, at graduation, the honor of “Distinction,” “High Distinction,” or “Highest Distinction.”

Entry into the program

  1. Students qualify for the program if they have achieved an overall GPA of 3.40 in all coursework prior to application for the program.
  2. Students who declare a Religious Studies Major in the spring of their second year will be eligible for entry into the program in the fall of their third year. Applicants cannot be considered earlier than the spring of their second year. Students must declare by the spring of their third year.
  3. Fill out the application (MS Word) and submit it to the Religious Studies Office in 323 Gibson Hall by April 1st.
  4. The applicant must obtain a Religious Studies faculty member's agreement to direct the reading and thesis research, as well as a second reader from the Department.
  5. Admission into the program will be evaluated by the Committee on Undergraduate Studies.


  1. The student must complete all 30 credits required for the regular major, including the Majors’ Seminar, RELG 4500.
  2. At least 12 of these credits (generally four courses) must be in the student’s primary concentration.
  3. 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 Majors 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 Majors Thesis.
  4. 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, and December 1st for December graduation.  A final copy must also be deposited in the department archives by submitting it to the Religious Studies Office in 323 Gibson Hall.

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.