Thesis Eligibility


By the time students begin working on the project and sign up for credits, students must:

  • Be in junior or senior standing (135 cumulative units or above)
  • Be a declared Religious Studies major
  • Achieve certain major or overall GPA by the time students begin working on the project (see below)
  • Receive approval from the thesis advisor

RST 194H or RST 199 ?

As stated above, students must have certain minimum GPA to pursue a senior thesis project. This GPA requirement also determines which of the two variable-unit courses (RST 194H or 199) students must sign up for when they register for credits:

  1. major GPA: 3.500 or above
  2. overall GPA: 3.648 or above

If students meet criteria 1 and 2, they will sign up for RST 194H: Special Study for Honors Students.

If students only meet one of these criteria, they will sign up for RST 199: Special Study for Advanced Undergraduates instead. 

Requirements and Process

Normally, a student will undertake the thesis project during the first two quarters of the senior year; other arrangements must be authorized by the thesis advisor. During the Spring quarter of the junior year, students interested in pursuing an honors thesis must contact the department's senior thesis adviser, who will help them to make arrangements to work with a faculty thesis mentor in the following year.

During the two quarters of the thesis project, students will:

  • Enroll in at least six units of RST 194H or RST 199 distributed over two quarters.
  • Write a senior thesis under the direction of a faculty member, with whom the student will meet regularly.
  • Present the thesis project at the annual Undergraduate Research Conference in April.

Senior Thesis Abstract

Title: Power Hierarchies and the Catholic Involvement in Immigration Reform: A Critical Discourse Analysis.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with over five million members, is the largest Catholic community in the United States. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is 70% Hispanic and about 60% of their growth in the past ten years has been from Hispanic immigrants.  The Archbishop of Los Angeles, José Gómez is a Mexican-born immigrant and he serves on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration.  Gomez is a very vocal advocate of immigration reform and immigrant human rights in the United States.  This paper analyzes the rhetoric Gomez uses in four speeches that span from 2008-2012.  I argue that Gomez uses specific, directive rhetoric to establish his power and position with his audience in order to persuade them and create solidarity between them to advocate immigration reform and support immigrant human rights. To do this, I use Critical Discourse Analysis to investigate the power hierarchies established by his use of in-group pronouns and authoritative language.  I then use Jurgen Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action to show that Gomez’s rhetoric is an attempt to create solidarity and establish his authority between Catholics in order to achieve immigration reform.