Honors Thesis for Psychology

The PSY Honors Thesis 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 for 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.)

2 Steps to Complete:

  1. Complete the UHP Thesis Proposal Form, keeping in mind key deadlines set by the University Honors Program. Consult your UHP Advisor when you have questions about that required documentation.
  2. Enroll in PSY Thesis credits (PSY 5993 or PSY 4993) following steps below: 

Enrollment in PSY Thesis Credits

Registration for PSY Thesis credits requires completion of the Department of Psychology Online Research Contract, which must be reviewed by a psychology advisor following the process below. This occurs prior to the distribution of a permission number allowing your registration. 

*NEW* - Complete the Psychology Undergraduate Research Contract. This Online form has a new section specifically for Honors Thesis registration.

To submit your thesis contract complete the following steps no more than 2 weeks after the start of the semester in which you first plan to enroll in PSY Thesis credits:

  1. 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.
    1. For all projects, identify two additional readers, one from within the Department of Psychology and one outside of the Department of Psychology. Consult with your primary mentor when identifying prospective readers. (Though the PSY Thesis grade is determined by the primary advisor, other readers provide project feedback and evaluation. Discuss your project ideas with prospective readers, incorporating their suggestions as appropriate).
  2. Articulate the final proposal on the contract, including practical issues such as the term of registration, credits to be earned (min. 3, max. 6), and evaluation procedures.
  3. Secure signature of approval from your primary advisor - this is completed through an online workflow process.
  4. The completed and signed contract will route to Psychology Advising for advisor review and approval. This approval will include the distribution of a permission number enabling your enrollment in the course (PSY 5993 or PSY 4993).

If you will plan to enroll in second term of credits, Psychology Advising will email you a permission number allowing you to register for a second semester of honors thesis credits. 

Grade Posting for Faculty (For Spring 2022 only)

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. After the end of the first term, you should request that your faculty mentor submit a temporary grade as a placeholder. The appropriate grade in this instance is ‘K’ for ‘continuing.’ An email reminder from Psychology Advising will be sent to students about this process.

Instructions: Faculty mentors should email the following grade posting information to psyadvis@umn.edu:

  • 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 Capstone (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