Independent Research and Honors Options in Psychological Sciences

The Department of Psychological Sciences offers a number of options for students interested in earning course credit while conducting independent research under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Interested students should discuss these options with their advisor and with potential faculty mentors. With faculty agreement, each of the following options may be conducted under an Honors contract with advanced expectations, for students seeking Honors College credit:

  • PSY 39100 Readings in Psychology: In-depth reading on a specific topic in psychology under the guidance of a faculty member, often in preparation for PSY 49800 (see below).
  • PSY 39800 Independent Research in Psychology: Students will conduct an independent project related to research that is ongoing in the lab. Students will discuss theories and ideas related to the project and plan and execute a thesis. Duties may include data coding and entry; participating in the planning of the research and the development of research materials; and executing the research with responsibility for all aspects of data collection. Students are expected to be involved in the research project for an average of nine hours per week.
  • PSY 49800 Senior Research: Student conducts and writes a report on an individual research project under the guidance of a faculty member. 

Research-Focused Honors Program

The purpose of the Research-Focused Honors Program (RFHP) is to provide instruction and guidance to exceptional undergraduate psychology students on how to conduct an independent empirical project. Each project will be designed and carried out under the close supervision of a faculty member. You will write a senior honors thesis and will showcase your research in a departmental poster session. If you complete the RFHP and continue to satisfy the GPA requirement, you will receive a notation on your transcript that you have earned departmental honors in the Department of Psychological Sciences’ Research-Focused Honors Program.

The Research-Focused Honors Program is a competitive admissions program for which a cohort of no more than 15-20 students will be selected. The program is intended for students who are particularly interested in graduate programs or careers that involve empirical research in the psychological sciences. The cohort experience for the Research-Focused Honors Program is built on a model that requires extensive interaction and peer feedback. Students within the program are expected to attend and actively participate in meetings of the required cohort courses (PSY 40400H, PSY 40500H). Students are encouraged to talk with their advisor and with their faculty mentor to assess whether this project is a good fit for their long-term goals.

For students in the Honors College, the Research-Focused Honors Program fulfills the scholarly project requirement. You do not need to be a participant in the Honors College or any College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) honors program to participate in the Research-Focused Honors Program.

Students who are not admitted to the program are still eligible to conduct research projects under the supervision of a faculty mentor via the PSY 39100, PSY 39800 and PSY 49800 options outlined above. Such a project may be conducted under an honors contract for those seeking honors credit, or to fulfill the scholarly project requirements of the Honors College. Students who are not admitted to the program are eligible to present such work in the departmental poster session.

Requirements of the Research-Focused Honors Program

The program consists of 13 required credit hours of coursework and an optional one-credit course. For students graduating in May under a typical four-year degree plan the program is structured as follows:

Spring semester junior year:

  • PSY 40400 (Honors Research Seminar I), 3 credits
  • PSY 39100H (Readings in Psychology with faculty mentor), 1 credit

Fall semester senior year:

  • PSY 40500 (Honors Research Seminar II), 3 credits
  • PSY 49800H (Honors Thesis Research with faculty mentor), 3 credits

Spring semester senior year:

  • PSY 49800H (Honors Thesis Research with faculty mentor), 3 credits
  • Optional: PSY 39200H (Honors Research Seminar 3), 1 credit
  • Required: presentation of poster within departmental poster session

Eligibility and Application

Students applying for the 2024-25 cohort must identify a faculty member who will agree to be their mentor. Applicants must meet these prerequisites by the end of the Fall 2023 semester:

  1. Credit for PSY 12000, PSY 20100 and PSY 20300 (minimum grade of B in each course required, higher grades preferred)
  2. Credit for two other three-credit PSY courses (excluding PSY 39000 or PSY 39100; minimum grade of B in each course required, higher grades preferred)
  3. Psychology index of at least 3.5
  4. Graduation index of at least 3.5

Preference may be given to students who, at the time of applying have current or prior experience in PSY 39000, with additional preference for PSY 39000 experience in the same lab as the faculty mentor.

The application deadline is 12 p.m. EST Nov. 7. Instructions about how to complete the application are included within the application packet. The completed application should be emailed to Emily Iffert, undergraduate program coordinator for the department. Questions may be emailed to Colin William, the department’s director of undergraduate studies.

Application Packet

Faculty Mentors