Honors in Jewish Studies


The Honors program in Jewish Studies is a senior-year program open to majors with an overall GPA of 3.5 or higher at the end of their junior year. Eligible students are contacted by the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Undergraduate Program Coordinator during the summer before their senior year, at which time they must decide whether they want to enroll in the program.

However, because the crafting of an honors thesis can be such a lengthy process, a Jewish Studies major who is confident that he or she will be able to maintain a strong GPA through the completion of their junior year should begin the process and consult with faculty much earlier than the summer before their senior year when a formal invitation is sent to them.

In order to participate in the TIJS honors program, eligible students must also come to an agreement with a member of the faculty of the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies who will agree to serve as thesis director and agree to a plan regarding the work to be done during the student’s senior year. Because of sabbatical leaves and other commitments, a faculty member may not be able to direct a thesis in a given year. Students interested in the honors program should be in contact with the faculty member(s) as early as possible.


A minimum of two successive semesters of Honors Directed Reading (JS 495R) is required for the honors degree. TIJS strongly encourages the student to find and take a graduate seminar related to the honors topic, if available.

In consultation with the thesis director, students will choose two additional faculty members to serve on their Honors committee. The director will guide the student's independent research on a topic of the student's choosing. The honors committee must include one member from outside the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies. The student is encouraged to consult with the additional committee members, especially during the final semester of the work.

The entire committee will judge the quality of the completed Honors Thesis and the student's defense of the thesis in an oral examination.

Successful honors candidates are awarded the degree with honors, high honors, or highest honors. The degree of honors is awarded for satisfactory completion of the honors program while high honors are given for an outstanding achievement and highest honors for an exceptional performance of a quality suitable for publication.

Fourragères signifying honors are presented to qualifying graduating seniors to be worn at Commencement.

Recent undergraduate honors theses from students in the Tam Institute and affiliated departments include:

  • "Bring Me the Sword!": A Comparative Analysis of How a Modern Day King Solomon Might Approach Assisted Reproductive Technologies From the Jewish and Roman Catholic Perspectives (Jessica Ginsberg, 2013) 
  • "Di Griner in Buenos Aires: Exploring Holocaust Survivors' Oral Histories" (Jessica Katz, 2012)
  • "Are Jewish Religious Holidays Factors in the Timing of Terrorist Attacks in Israel?" (Shifaili Baliga, 2011) 
  • "Wiener Amerikaner oder amerikanischer Wiener? A Comparative Analysis of Three Viennese Scientists - Eric Kandel, Carl Djerassi, and Erwin Chargaff." (Caroline Barrow Maness, 2011) 
  • "Vicente Ferrer and the Kings' Jews: Reassessing the Modern Image of a Medieval Dominican." (Michael Sean Hatch, 2011) 

For more information, please contact Dr. Catherine Dana, Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies.