Awards & Honors

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Awards & Honors

Halperin-Schütz Undergraduate Essay Award

Deadline for 2024: entries due by March 8, 2024 to Professor Brandon Bayne (

Named in honor of David J. Halperin (Rabbinic Judaism) and John Howard Schütz (New Testament), former faculty members of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Religious Studies who were influential on a generation of students through their interdisciplinary and collaborative teaching, this essay competition recognizes undergraduate scholarship in the study of religion.

Up to two awards of $250 will be given annually for the best unpublished essay or research paper 10-20 pages written by an undergraduate in a Religious Studies or Jewish Studies class.

Any undergraduate from any major can submit a paper written in a Religious Studies or Jewish Studies class, or a selection from an honors thesis in these departments. Prior winners are not eligible, and only one submission per student per annual competition.

The essay may address any topic in Religious Studies or Jewish Studies. Papers written for class must be 10-20 double-spaced pages; a selection from an honors thesis should be no more than twenty double-spaced pages.

Please identify on the title page the course name, professor, and semester taken for papers written for regular classes, or the advisor of the honors thesis. Revised versions of class papers based on feedback received at the end of the course from the professor are welcome.

The essays will be judged by the Undergraduate Studies Committee of the Department of Religious Studies. Awards will be presented at the department’s annual awards ceremony.

Entries must be submitted by email by the student to Professor Brandon Bayne ( on or before the due date.

Theta Alpha Kappa Honor Society

In 1976, Professor Albert Clark, F.S.C., established Theta Alpha Kappa at Manhattan College in Riverdale (the Bronx), New York for the purpose of recognizing the academic achievements of religion and theology students.  It is the only national honor society dedicated to recognizing academic excellence in baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate students and in scholars in the fields of Religious Studies and Theology.

Induction requires nomination by a local chapter and, to be eligible, students must have a 3.5 GPA in Religious Studies and/or Theology and a 3.0 GPA overall.  Residency, class ranking, and unit requirements must also be met. Inductees will be invited to the annual Religious Studies awards ceremony in April to receive the honor.

In addition to encouraging the activities of local chapters, Theta Alpha Kappa maintains a vigorous national program of scholarship awards and fellowship competitions; its primary publication, the Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa, offers an annual prize and the publication of outstanding student papers.

Theta Alpha Kappa is a related scholarly organization of the American Academy of Religion and is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies.

Bernard Boyd Memorial Fellowship

Deadline: March 8, 2024

The Boyd Fellowship is a $11,000 fellowship given annually to a major or double major in the Department of Religious Studies who plans to pursue either graduate or professional education in religion. Current majors, as well as those who graduated the preceding year but did not immediately enter graduate or professional school in religion, are eligible.

Individuals wishing to apply should submit the following documents:

  1. A statement (3-5 pages, typed, double-spaced) explaining the reasons for wanting to pursue advanced work in religious studies;
  2. A description of the educational program the award is to support;
  3. A transcript;
  4. Three letters of recommendation, including one from a professor outside the Department of Religious Studies. (Forms may be obtained from the Department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Student Services Manager (

The Department may request additional documentation and personal interviews in the course of its deliberations.

A recipient must provide evidence that he or she has enrolled in an accredited graduate or professional program in religious studies, or the equivalent thereof, not later than the following fall semester. In the event that he or she does not, the award shall be reassigned to the next most qualified candidate. (A student who forfeits the fellowship may reapply without prejudice the following year if less than a year has elapsed since graduation from college.)

Priority shall be given to persons who have designated religious studies as their major or double major. Lacking a superior candidate, the Department may award the fellowship to a student entering the Department’s graduate program.

All documentation, including letters of recommendation, should be submitted to:

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Religious Studies
125 Carolina Hall CB#3225
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3225

Documents can also be emailed to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Bernard Boyd Memorial Prize

Deadline: Not applicable

Students do not apply for this award. Instead, they are nominated by faculty members.

The Bernard Boyd Memorial Prize was established in 1979 by the Department of Religious Studies in memory of Bernard Boyd, who was James A. Gray Professor of Biblical Literature from 1950 to 1979. The prize is presented annually to the member of the senior class majoring in religious studies who has been selected by a faculty committee as most outstanding in academic achievement.

This award of $500 is given in recognition of academic achievement by a senior religious studies major or double major. Lacking a suitable candidate, persons who are effectively majors, either by virtue of the number of courses taken in the Department, or by virtue of participation in the common life of the Department, shall be eligible.