MAJORS AND MINORS IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES
HONORS COURSES AND GENERAL HONORS
The Department of Religious Studies participates in the University of Miami’s Honors Program and each semester usually offers at least one course for Honors credit. These Honors courses, which may be taken by all students who are enrolled in the Honors Program, count toward the fulfillment of the requirements for graduation with “General Honors.” With the permission of departmental faculty, Honors students may also transform a regular course into an Honors course by doing specified additional work. This additional work is detailed on a so-called “pink sheet” that must be signed by the faculty member and submitted to the Honors Program Office by the student before the indicated deadline. For more precise information on the requirements for graduating with “General Honors” and on the regulations regarding “pink sheets,” please contact the Honors Program Office.
Religious Studies majors and minors may enroll in any course offered by the Department of Religious Studies, including Honors courses, provided that they have the necessary prerequisites or permission of the instructor.
DEPARTMENTAL HONORS IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES
The Department of Religious Studies encourages its majors and minors to intensify and deepen their knowledge of religious texts, traditions, and issues through its Departmental Honors Program. The program is designed to give our students the opportunity to explore various topics and problems in religion that are of particular interest to them, to work more closely with faculty in the department, to develop skills in research and thesis preparation, and in some cases to prepare for graduate work in religious studies or other disciplines.
Minimum requirements for the program are as follows: 1) a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.30; 2) a cumulative grade point average in religious studies of at least 3.50; and 3) a thesis that is approved by departmental faculty.
For the determination of honors, cumulative grade point average means either the average of all grades earned at the University of Miami or the combined average of all graded work taken at the University of Miami and elsewhere (whether or not the transfer work is accepted toward a degree at the University of Miami), whichever is lower.
Students have three options for writing the thesis. First, they may take six credit hours of senior thesis (REL 491 and 492: Senior Honors Thesis I and II) with one or more departmental faculty. Second, they may take a three-credit course offered at the 300-level or above and three credits of senior thesis (REL 492). Third, in exceptional circumstances, a student’s thesis may be written as part of the requirements for earning six credits in religious studies courses at the 300-level or above. In all three cases, the thesis must be a single, coherent work of scholarship through which the student earns six credit hours in religious studies over the course of two semesters.
A Religious Studies faculty member must serve as the Honors thesis advisor, and a second reader, who may be from another department, must be selected in consultation with the thesis advisor. The thesis must be at least 30 pages in length. Once the topic and committee are secured, students should turn in their signed Departmental Honors Thesis Form to the main office of the Department on Religious Studies. This form must be signed by the Director of Undergraduate Studies and submitted by October 15 for fall graduation and February 15 for Spring graduation.
In addition to completing the written thesis, students must orally present the results of their work to faculty and students at a special honors colloquium to be held at the end of the semester.
THETA ALPHA KAPPA –THE NATIONAL HONOR SOCIETY FOR RELIGIOUS STUDIES AND THEOLOGY (TAK)
Since 1995 the Department of Religious Studies has been proud to house the Alpha Beta Upsilon chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa (TAK), the national honor society for religious studies and theology. Each spring the chapter inducts eligible faculty, students, and members of the community who have distinguished themselves in the academic study of religion. The chapter presents all student inductees with an honors cord that they may wear at the University’s Honors Convocation and Commencement.
To be eligible for induction into TAK as an undergraduate, students must have a cumulative grade point average in all academic subjects of at least 3.30 and earn an overall grade point average of 3.50 or higher in at least 12 academic credits in Religious Studies. Graduating seniors who are in the process of fulfilling the requisite 12 academic credits in Religious Studies will be considered for induction into the Society, provided that they meet the other criteria. Eligible students are reviewed by the faculty each spring. Those who are approved by the faculty are offered induction into TAK, which is one of the highest honors that the faculty can bestow on majors and minors.
TAK publishes the Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa, which each year features undergraduate papers in all fields of religious studies and theology. The best undergraduate paper is awarded a prize worth $200. For additional information on TAK and the paper competition, please contact Dr. David Kling.
Majors and minors who have achieved academic excellence and have completed 90 credits (12 credits in Religious Studies) are eligible to join TAK. Each spring the chapter inducts eligible faculty, students, and members of the community who have distinguished themselves in the academic study of religion. The chapter presents all student inductees with an honors cord that they may wear at the University’s Honors Convocation and Commencement.
AWARDS FOR GRADUATING SENIORS
Because every significant field of study intersects at crucial points with aspects of religion, the discipline of religious studies is extremely broad. The Department of Religious Studies attempts to offer course work in as many areas as its faculty has expertise. To facilitate the goal of majors acquiring both breadth and depth in their knowledge of religion, the Department divides its courses into three areas: Religious Literature, Historical and Religious Traditions, and Religious Issues and Problems (Contemporary Issues).
Each spring semester the Department of Religious Studies bestows five awards to graduating seniors. The two highest awards are presented at both the Honors Convocation and the TAK induction ceremony. The first is the Theta Alpha Kappa Award, typically given to the student who has excelled in all three areas of study offered by the Department. The second is the Honors Day Award, bestowed on the outstanding Religious Studies major, who usually will have excelled in at least two of the three areas of study.
Three additional awards are presented at the Theta Alpha Kappa induction ceremony that recognizes excellence in each of the three areas of study offered by the Department.