Honors Thesis for Psychology

PSY 4902V: Honors Project is the capstone experience for honors students pursuing BS or BA degrees in psychology. The thesis project is typically a year-long project undertaken independently, in consultation with a faculty mentor, during your final year of study. The project typically consists of an original research project and report. The nature and scope of the project are determined in consultation with the faculty project advisor. The honors project consists of scholarly work culminating in a written research report and an oral presentation. Occasionally, an honors student completes a comprehensive critical literature review instead.

Getting Started 

Note: PSY 4994V, the prerequisite course to the honors thesis, is designed to walk you through these steps.

  • Identify an area of interest through coursework, reading in journals and texts, the Honors Research Practicum course, and discussion with instructors, faculty and/or psychology advisors 
  • Secure a Department of Psychology faculty or adjunct faculty member to serve as your advisor
  • Plan to spend two semesters working on your psychology thesis, which is the typical time frame for psychology honors students (It is strongly recommended that you complete the majority of your psychology courses prior to starting on the project, so be sure you are planning a realistic time frame.)

Enrollment

Registration for PSY 4902V credits requires completion of the Department of Psychology Honors Thesis Contract, which must be reviewed by a psychology advisor during drop-in hours prior to distribution of a permission number. Copies of this form are available in N108 Elliott Hall, Psychology Undergraduate Advising.

To complete your thesis contract: 

  • Discuss your area of interest with your faculty advisor and develop your project ideas. Write a summary of key proposal components, using the thesis contract as a guide.
  • For summa projects: identify two additional readers, typically one from within the Department of Psychology and one outside. Consult with your primary mentor when identifying prospective readers. (Though the PSY 4902V grade is determined by the primary advisor, other readers provide project feedback and evaluation. Discuss your project ideas with prospective readers, incorporating suggestions as appropriate).
  • Articulate the final proposal on the thesis contract, including practical issues such as term of registration, credits to be earned (min. 3, max. 6), and evaluation procedures.
  • Secure signatures of approval from your primary advisor and, for summa projects, the two additional readers.
  • Bring the completed, signed contract to Psychology Advising for advisor review and approval. This approval will include distribution of a permission number enabling your enrollment in the course.*

*To register for the second semester credits of your Honors Thesis, simply email psyadvis@umn.edu to request a permission number. 

Grade Posting

Students registered across two semesters will not receive a grade until the final project is completed and evaluated. A single grade will then be posted for both Psy 4902V registrations. Until the project is complete, there are two options:

  • The grade may remain blank for a term until you complete your thesis.
  • You may request that your faculty mentor submit a temporary grade as a placeholder. The appropriate grade in this instance is ‘K’ for ‘continuing.’

Instructions: Faculty mentors should email the following grade posting information to Rachel Goeller:

  • Student name
  • Student ID#
  • Course number (i.e., PSY 4902V)
  • Term(s) of registration
  • Grade

Presentation Options

Review the University Honors Program Thesis guidelines. Summa candidates are required to complete a public thesis presentation.

Options for psychology honors students include:

  • Joining the Psychology Major Project (PSY 3901W, 3902W & 3903W) Elliott Hall poster presentation, held at the end of each term
  • Presenting at a faculty mentor’s laboratory meeting
  • Participating in the campus Undergraduate Research Symposium, held in April each year
  • Presenting at a regional or national undergraduate conference
  • Presenting at a professional conference in psychology or a related discipline