Honors Program Policy and Guidelines

Objectives of the honors program in psychology

Through the honors program, the Psychology Department hopes to provide an opportunity for seniors to engage in in-depth analysis of a topic in the discipline of psychology.  Typically, the project will include the collection and analysis of empirical data, but successful projects might also focus on the analysis and synthesis of a significant amount of literature related to some topic.  Copies of recently completed honors projects are available in the library and in the Department.

Criteria for participation

Consistent with college policy, students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 to participate in the Honors program.  Please note, however, that the vast majority of Honors students have GPAs far in excess of this minimum.  The average cumulative GPA of students who have completed an honors project during the past five years is approximately 3.7.

Proposals from students who qualify for honors will be examined carefully for overall quality and goodness of fit with available faculty.  Meeting the requirements for honors and submitting a proposal by the deadline do not guarantee that your project will be approved for honors.  We urge students to discuss their topic with a faculty member before they submit a proposal.  The department will assign successful applicants to work with a specific faculty member; students should not assume that they will work with their first-choice professor. In general, faculty members will not take on more than two honors projects per academic year.

The following guidelines specify both the minimum requirements for honors and qualities of candidates and proposals that are characteristic of successful proposals and projects.

Minimum requirements for Honors

  • Senior standing
  • Overall GPA equal to or greater than 3.3
  • A written proposal  (approximately 1 page single-spaced) submitted by April 1.  The proposal should identify three faculty whose expertise matches, at least in part, the proposed project.

Favorable qualities for candidates

  • High academic achievement, especially within psychology (well above the minimum requirement).
  • High achievement in Directed Research
  • A record of working well independently (e.g., meeting deadlines)

Favorable characteristics of the research proposal

  • Proposed research that overlaps with ongoing faculty research or interests; projects that support faculty research will be the most competitive.
  • Probability that the research will result in data presentable at a professional conference.
  • A clear, well-written proposal.

Independent study credit

Honors students are encouraged to register for independent study credit during the terms in which they are working on their projects.  Typically, this will mean six semester credit hours distributed among fall, January, and spring terms.  Only under exceptional circumstances will students earn more than six credits for work associated with their Honors projects.

Timeline for applying for Honors

Students must submit an application to the Department chair no later than April 1 of their junior year and will be notified of the departmental decision regarding their application before registration for the next fall semester. Students who expect to graduate in December should submit their application by December 1 of the year before their graduation.


All students will present a progress report on their projects to the department faculty in early December (early May for December graduates).  In early April (early December for December graduates), an oral examination of the honors project will be conducted by a committee of three faculty members.  No more than two of the committee members will be members of the Psychology Department and one committee member may be a faculty member at another college or university.  Each committee member must read the entire thesis (and thus must have a full draft at least one week in advance). At the conclusion of the oral examination, committee members will decide whether or not the student will receive honors recognition for the project.  If the conclusion is positive, an appropriate document will be signed by all committee members.

Honors Projects

You can read these honors projects on Digital Commons.