PSY 495/496: Senior Thesis Research
What is it? The senior honors thesis program is a two-semester capstone course in psychology, designed for senior majors who are considering going on to graduate school in psychology. The student works closely with a faculty mentor on an individual research project.
During the Fall semester the students are required to develop a research study, write up the introduction and method of their proposal, and do an oral presentation of their proposed study to faculty and students during finals week.
During the Spring semester students are required to collect the data for their study, analyze and write up the results, and then present a poster of their study to faculty and students during Psychology Day, usually the last day of the Spring semester.
PSY495/496 Class: During both semesters the students in the class meet one hour per week with the class instructor. During the class time students discuss research issues (e.g., how to write an introduction, how to plan their analyses), professional issues (e.g., how to get into graduate school, how to interview for graduate school), and present their projects for feedback to their fellow students.
Course requirements: The academic requirements for the class include: a Psychology GPA of at least 3.6, at least a grade of B in both PSY 215 and 216, and senior standing. The most important requirement is to have a faculty sponsor. This is usually accomplished by doing one or two 395 sections with a faculty member so that he/she can assess your motivation and academic potential for the 495/496 classes. Most faculty sponsor at most only one student a year, so it is important that students have developed a good working relationship with the faculty.
Other information: It is important that students hit the ground running at the beginning of the Fall semester. Many students and faculty find that it is helpful to actually start the research project (e.g., reading articles, collecting data) during the summer preceding the senior year. The university offers a limited number of fellowships to support undergraduate students during the summer, and this possibility can be discussed with your faculty sponsor.
The Senior Honors Thesis Program is the single best preparation for graduate school that is offered in the Department of Psychology.
Students must commit to participate in both semesters. Even if you plan to graduate in December of your senior year it is worth staying around for another semester to be able to participate in the program. We even have had students participate in the program after they have graduated because they feel they did not get sufficient preparation for graduate school during their undergraduate years.