Honors Thesis for Psychology (PSY 5994)

The Psychology Honors Thesis (PSY 5994) 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, under the supervision of a Psychology department faculty mentor, during the final year of study. The student is responsible for securing the commitment of their primary Psychology faculty mentor, as well as two additional faculty committee members. 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. 

Getting Started 

PSY 4994V: Psychology Honors Research Practicum is the prerequisite course for the honors thesis. PSY 4994V is only offered in the Spring of your Junior Year and is designed to walk you through these next steps.

  • Identify an area of interest through Psychology 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 Psychology 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 UHP required documentation.
  2. Enroll in Psychology Thesis credits (PSY 5994) by following the steps below: 

Enrollment in Psychology Thesis Credits - PSY 5994

Registration for PSY 5994 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. This Online form has a section specifically for Honors Thesis registration and requires advanced discussion of expectations between student and faculty mentor.

To submit your thesis contract for PSY 5994 registration, complete the following steps no more than 2 weeks after the start of the semester in which you first plan to enroll in PSY 5994 Directed Research - Psy Honors Thesis:

  1. Discuss your area of interest with your faculty mentor and develop your project ideas. Write a summary of key proposal components, using the thesis contract as a guide.
    • For all projects, identify two additional faculty readers, one from within the Department of Psychology and one outside of the Department of Psychology. Consult with your primary mentor when identifying prospective faculty readers. (Though the primary mentor determines the Psychology Thesis grade, other faculty 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 (minimum 3, maximum 6), and evaluation procedures. Almost all students will enroll in 3 credits in Fall and 3 credits in Spring. Consult with Psychology Advising on any variations needed (e.g. for Financial Aid, degree completion, etc.).
  3. Secure a signature of approval from your primary thesis mentor. 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 you to enroll in the course (PSY 5994).

If you will plan to enroll in a 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 - Instructions for Faculty Mentor

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 5994 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 and faculty about this process.

Instructions: Faculty mentors for PSY 5994 will simply enter grades in MyU. Adjunct Faculty mentors for PSY 5994 should email the following grade posting information to psyadvis@umn.edu:

  • Student name
  • Student ID#
  • Course number (i.e., PSY 5994 - Honors Thesis)
  • Term(s) of registration
  • Grade

Presentation Ideas (Recommended and Required for Summa Level)

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

Options for psychology honors students include:

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