Honors Program in Psychology

The honors program in Psychology offers students the opportunity to work independently and in depth on a project during the senior year. These projects usually involve 3 course credits, one in the fall semester and two in the spring. Most theses are empirical; however, there is also an option to write a "theoretical" thesis (a conceptual survey of empirical and/or theoretical work) or a "practical" thesis. The latter is a new option, and would involve one course credit of practical work, such as at a battered women's shelter or mental health hospital, and 2 course credits devoted to a conceptual survey of literature related to the practicum experience.

Information regarding the research interests of faculty members of the Psychology Department can be found here or on their individual web pages. During the spring semester, juniors will receive an information packet that will include more details about each faculty members areas of interest and expertise. 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. They will be asked to submit a list, specifying order of preference of possible thesis advisors, to the Department Chair. 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. The general criteria that the faculty uses in making its decisions are:

  • background in the area
  • ability to work independently
  • appropriate writing skills
  • high level of motivation
  • perseverance.

It is advantageous and sometimes necessary to have had a course with the professor in whose research area one is interested. Also note that a College-wide grade average of B+ or better is a prerequisite for being accepted into the Honors Program or permission by the department. 

Early in the spring semester junior student majors will be sent information about professor research interests and their availability for thesis supervision. Juniors will also receive instruction on how to sign-up for the honors thesis program for their senior year. 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.