Independent Research

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Psychology majors have many opportunities to gain valuable, varied research experience. Majors gain such experience by taking PSY 395, PSY 495/496, and/or PSY 499.
PSY 395 is independent work in Psychology, which is open to Psychology majors with at least a 3.0 GPA in psychology coursework, although exceptions are sometimes made to these prerequisites. In addition, students need to be sponsored by a faculty member (even if they are working primarily with a graduate student).
Most often it consists of working on the research project under faculty supervision. This pass-fail only course may be taken for 1 to 3 credits at a time, up to a maximum of 12 credits over majors’ undergraduate career. The duties associated with doing PSY 395 vary widely depending on the person with whom students work. When you are looking for a sponsor, you need to learn exactly what you will do for a 395 with that person. When majors find a sponsor, you and the sponsor will write a contract detailing your responsibilities and how you will be graded. So, the "requirements" of 395 are specific to the project you work on and sponsor you work with. Although it is not a prerequisite, it is useful to complete PSY 215 and PSY 216 before taking PSY 395.
Because the requirements for PSY 395 vary widely for different individuals, it is important that both the student and the faculty sponsor be very clear about their respective responsibilities. Therefore, each student and faculty sponsor state their responsibilities and the basis for determining a grade for the course in the form of a contract. Contracts can be found online here. Both the faculty member and the student sign the contract and copies are held by the student, the faculty member, and the department. If there is some dispute about the expectations of either the student or faculty member at a later point, the contract may be consulted.
Psychology majors interested in learning about psychological research first-hand are welcome and encouraged to take PSY 395. Any student with thoughts of applying to graduate school in psychology is STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to do PSY 395. There are several good reasons to do PSY 395 if anyone plans to go to graduate school in psychology. One is that a good PSY 395 experience will challenge majors and expose you to ways of thinking that you do not often encounter in a classroom. Another is that you will be required to do research in graduate school, so you need to be involved in research as an undergraduate. This will allow you to evaluate whether you really want to pursue graduate school and gain some important skills that will serve you well in graduate school. Yet, a third reason is a very practical one: you will need good letters of recommendation when you apply to graduate school. Faculty cannot write informative letters if they don't know you well. PSY 395 is a great opportunity for a faculty member to become well acquainted with you and your abilities.
This set of two courses is designed to give qualified psychology seniors a year-long research experience. Under guidance of a faculty sponsor, students will be expected to complete a thesis. To be qualified for the courses, students must be seniors majoring in psychology. Also, they must have: (1) at minimum a 3.60 GPA in psychology; (2) at least a B in PSY 215 and PSY 216; and (3) a faculty sponsor.
PSY 499
This senior capstone course offers psychology majors an opportunity to integrate classroom learning, theory, and practice in the context of a research or field-based experience in psychology. Students will spend at least nine hours weekly in the placement site and meet weekly as a group with the course instructor to discuss their progress toward their learning objectives. To enroll in the course, students must meet the following criteria: (1) declared major in psychology; (2) senior status; (3) consent of instructor; (4) completion of any advanced lecture /lab; and (5) learning contract with Psychology Department. Contact Dr. Sung Hee Kim (
Other Research Opportunities on Campus
Psychology majors who wish to seek other research opportunities on campus are encouraged to visit the following websites:
The Office of Undergraduate Research:
UK Research Centers, Core Facilities & Research Resources:


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