The honors program in Psychology offers students the opportunity to work in-depth on an empirical project during their senior year. These projects usually involve 3 course credits, one in the fall semester and two in the spring; in some cases that order can be reversed. Be aware that the thesis fulfills a seminar requirement in the area of your thesis, so that thesis writers need to take only one seminar in a different area for the psychology major.
Information regarding the research interests of faculty members of the Psychology Department can be found here or on their individual web pages. In psychology, the focus of the thesis is developed collaboratively through discussions with the thesis advisor and typically centers on a topic within the advisor's area of expertise. It is advantageous and sometimes necessary to have had a course with the professor in whose research area one is interested. For some types of projects, it is important to have worked in a given faculty member’s lab prior to applying to pursue thesis work in that area.
Juniors will be sent information about each faculty member's research interests and availability for thesis supervision by February 10th. In some cases, specific research projects that a faculty member would like to see carried out are described, and specific course prerequisites necessary to pursue honors work in a given area are listed. Students should read the descriptions and talk with all faculty members whose research areas they find exciting.
Juniors who are interested in applying for Departmental Honors research must indicate their interest by filling out a form due in early March. The form asks for a ranked order of possible thesis advisers with whom you are interested in working and who have availability for supervising theses in the upcoming year. You must discuss your interests with one or more faculty members prior to the application deadline. The faculty meets as a group to make decisions about which students will be accepted into the honors program and who their advisor will be. Although every effort is made to accommodate student preferences, the number of advising slots for each faculty member is limited, so be sure to speak to several faculty members about potential thesis projects. If you list a faculty member you have not spoken with about potential thesis work, you risk failing to match at all.
The thesis project is both intensive and demanding but it is also rewarding and often filled with new learning experiences, therefore students should carefully consider their commitment to this year-long 3-course-credit experience. Due to limited availability, thesis enrollment cannot be guaranteed to all applicants in all years. The general criteria that the faculty uses in making its decisions about accepting students into the honors program are:
- background in the area
- ability to work independently
- appropriate writing skills
- high level of motivation