Departmental Honors and Prizes

Departmental Honors

Each year, no more than 10% of graduating students in the Department of Religion are awarded departmental honors, which will be recorded on their final transcript. In order to be considered, students must receive the mark of Distinction on their senior thesis and maintain a departmental grade-point average of 3.66 or above. Writing a senior thesis qualifies students for consideration for departmental honors, but does not assure it.

Peter Awn Undergraduate Paper Prize

Established by the Departments of Religion at Columbia and Barnard in memory of Peter Awn, Professor of Religion, this prize is awarded annually to the student who has written the most outstanding paper for a course in the study of religion.

This prize of $500 will be given to the best paper written by an undergraduate for any course or seminar in Religion in the year prior. This prize honors our colleague Peter Awn’s inspired teaching and his dedication to promoting and celebrating creative inquiry.

Submissions are typically accepted until mid-March with the prize announced in mid-April.


Submissions must be

  • between 10-25 pages in length (excluding cover page and bibliography/references)
  • written for a course in the Department of Religion, in either Spring 2020 or Fall 2020 (Columbia and Barnard classes included)
  • authored by an undergraduate currently enrolled, in any college (GS, Columbia, Barnard, SEAS)


Submissions must be

  • submitted as a .pdf document
  • include a cover sheet with name, title, and course in which the paper was written

Submissions can be sent to: Edwin Torres at [email protected]

Prize Recipients

2021, Alethea Harnish, Columbia College, Class of 2024, "The Foundation of Roses"

2020, Grace Holleman, Barnard College, Class of 2021, “Imperio, Impressibility, and Imperialism: Mesmerism and Social Control”