Guidelines for Senior Theology Theses

The undergraduate thesis allows theology majors to pursue independent research during their senior year with a faculty advisor. There are three thesis options from which students might choose:

  • Standard thesis (3 credit hours, one semester) = 30-45 pages.
  • Honors thesis (6 credit hours, two semesters) = 60-70 pages.
  • Scholar of the College (12 credit hours, two semesters) = 120+ pages.

Standard and Honors Theses

Students interested in completing a Standard thesis (3 credit hours) or Honors thesis (6 credit hours) should identify a faculty person with whom to work by April 15 of their junior year. (Some exceptions can be made if student and faculty are able to define a project of study early on in the registration period of the student’s senior year.) If a student needs assistance in identifying an appropriate advisor, they may consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The student will propose a topic of research and secure the approval of the directing professor before submitting an application to the department for final approval.

There are two forms that must be submitted when applying for either the Standard or Honors thesis. The first requires a title and description of the project. The second is a contract for individually arranged and non-scheduled courses. This latter form requires specification of course objectives, intellectual preparation, frequency of meetings, key deadlines, outcomes, and criteria for evaluating student performance. The form is submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Studies or Chairperson for approval. Both application forms are available in the Theology Department office.

Note: seniors who plan on submitting their theses for consideration for the Dennis Tully Theology Award for best undergraduate paper in theology should aim to complete their projects by the end of March, since the evaluation of submissions must typically take place no later than the first week of April.

Scholar of the College

Students interested in applying for Scholar of College should consult the most recent program description, guidelines, and submission dates available at To qualify for consideration, students should have an overall cumulative GPA in all subjects of 3.700 or better. By the end of their junior year, students should have obtained permission to complete a substantive research project under the direction of a faculty scholar in a special 6-credit Advanced Independent Research course (approximately 240 hours of work per semester). A formal proposal and supporting letter from the faculty advisor should be sent to the Department Chair for approval prior to the beginning of the senior year. Students who achieve Scholar of the College designation are eligible for consideration for the McCarthy Prize, which is judged by the dean’s office and awarded at the Scholars Banquet at the end of the year.