Honors and Non-Honors Tracks

The Comparative Study of Religion offers an honors (14 half-courses) and a non-honors (12 half-courses) track. For all concentrators, 12 half-courses are distributed as follows:

  • One introductory Religion course (Rel. 11-20)
  • One semester of sophomore tutorial (Rel. 97)
  • One semester of junior tutorial (Rel. 98a or b)
  • Nine other Religion courses

Students in the honors track also enroll in:

  • Two semesters of senior tutorial (Rel. 99a and 99b)

To be considered for the honors track, students must write an honors thesis and participate in the senior tutorial (Religion 99). In order to be eligible to write a thesis, students must maintain a minimum average in the concentration of B+. Especially because the thesis is optional and is intended for students pursuing exceptional levels of achievement, we expect students to have developed, with the guidance of their advisers and mentors, the necessary competencies for their work, among them linguistic skills, fieldwork preparation, and archival practice. In particular, students who wish to pursue a thesis using ethnographic or anthropological approaches are required to complete Religion 20 or another approved course introducing these methods. Any student planning to write a thesis involving work with human subjects should plan to take an approved course in ethnographic or anthropological methods by the end of the junior year. For a list of courses that would fulfill this requirement, contact the Director or Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies. Note that students pursuing research using human subjects must also apply to Harvard’s Committee on the Use of Human Subjects for approval.

In addition to Religion 99a and 99b (which is graded SAT/UNSAT), one half-course taken SAT/UNSAT at Harvard can be counted for concentration credit.

Download the current or previous undergraduate concentrator handbooks: 2013-14, 2014-152015-16

Language Requirement

While students are no longer required to take an intermediate language course, the concentration expects that they will study languages necessary to their specialty. Students who elect to write a senior honors thesis should integrate the use of relevant languages into their analysis (e.g., if a student is writing about Qur’anic interpretation, he or she needs to have some knowledge of Arabic). An important consideration in the evaluation of a senior thesis is whether students demonstrate an awareness of primary sources in their original language.

In general, students may count up to two language courses towards concentration credit when the texts they are reading are either from a religious tradition or relevant to the study of a religious tradition, beginning with the second term of instruction in a single language.