Capstone Honors Guidelines

Religious Studies Capstone/Thesis Guidelines for Latin Honors

  • 4 credits. RELS 4952
  • Students work independently with a faculty member (capstone advisor) of their choice on a paper involving original research on a topic related to their Area Concentration.
  • Capstone projects usually take the form of an analytical research paper that is fully documented and includes a bibliography. For non-honors, these are usually around 25 pages in length. Honors papers are generally longer than this, involving more research, stronger theoretical framing, and deeper analyses.  Forms other than a research paper for the capstone project may be negotiated with the faculty advisor.
  • Latin honors papers must be read by a thesis committee of at least three members, one of which is thesis advisor. Committee members are identified in consultation with the capstone advisor.
  • For magna and summa, a penultimate draft of the project must be approved by all committee members. Upon this approval, the oral defense is scheduled.
  • A public, oral defense is required for summa capstones.  The defense is optional for magna and cum laude.
  • Upon completion of the defense, the committee decides the appropriate honors level (magna or summa) of the final project.
  • The final grade is assigned exclusively by the capstone advisor.
  • A cum laude thesis is a paper of high quality in research, analysis, and presentation.
  • A magna thesis is of particularly high quality as judged by the three-member committee.  and often involves two semesters of work, with the first semester being a course or directed study or learning abroad experience and the second focusing on the writing process.
  • A summa thesis is of exceptional quality as judged by the three-member committee.  Like, the magna thesis, a summa thesis usually involves two semesters of work, with the first being in a course, directed study, or learning abroad experience and the second focused on the writing process.

Requirements At-a-Glance—

Cum laude:

  • 4 credits
  • Analytical research paper of high quality produced as an independent project advised by a Religious Studies core or affiliated faculty member
  • The paper is read by a three-person committee, which includes the faculty advisor
  • A public oral defense is optional
  • Designation of Latin honors level is decided by the committee after the defense

Magna cum laude:

  • 4 credits
  • Analytical research paper of high quality produced as an independent project advised by a Religious Studies core or affiliated faculty member
  • The paper is read by a three-person committee, which includes the faculty advisor
  • A penultimate draft should be approved by all committee members
  • Public oral defense (optional, but required if the paper is to be considered for summa honors)
  • Designation of Latin honors level is decided by the committee after the defense

Summa cum laude:

  • 4 credits
  • Analytical research paper of exceptionally high quality produced as an independent project advised by a Religious Studies core or affiliated faculty member
  • The paper is read by a three-person committee, which includes the faculty advisor
  • A penultimate draft approved by all committee members
  • Public oral defense
  • Designation of Latin honors is decided by the committee after the defense