Research projects that lead to an honors thesis are usually carried out over a two-semester period by students working individually. (The student registers for Psychology 395 in each semester for a total of eight credits.) Each honors project is supervised by a committee of three faculty members, one of whom serves as the primary sponsor. Often two or more students work in the same general area or with the same faculty sponsor; this arrangement promotes valuable interaction among individuals with mutual interests. The department also offers Psychology 411-412, which is a one-credit, two-semester course for graduate students and potential honors students. Anyone contemplating honors is strongly advised to enroll in this course.
If the student and sponsor agree that the project may develop into an honors thesis, the student will prepare a thesis proposal, or prospectus, that will be reviewed by their Honors Committee. The thesis proposal describes the purpose or rationale for the project and includes a reasonably detailed description of the methods to be employed. The proposal will be read by at least one person who is not an expert in the area, so technical terms should be defined and the procedures clearly described. In some cases, pilot studies may be necessary to determine certain details of the procedure. If so, the student will describe the pilot studies and state how they will contribute to the final methodology. Guidelines for the preparation of the proposal and the honors thesis may be obtained in the department office.
An honors project involves all of the stages of professional research. Students wishing to do such a project should approach possible faculty sponsors no later than the spring of their junior year, if planning on carrying out the project during their senior year. Students should be aware that only a limited number of such projects are approved each year. The descriptions contained in the Faculty and Staff section of the Honors Guide Handbook (see link below) will provide students with clearer ideas as to the nature of faculty research interests. Included in this section are references to the faculty and staff's recent publications which students interested in independent research on any level should consider reading.