Research Opportunities

In addition to training in various areas of psychology, the Department is equally committed to encouraging sophisticated applied research. There are several ways for undergraduate students to become involved in research with psychology professors. These include:

  • Honors Thesis
  • Extracurricular research/volunteer
  • Independent Study or Research
  • External Research Opportunities

Honors Thesis

An Honors Thesis is a research project that you conduct largely on your own. Typically, you develop a research proposal, conduct a study, and write a research paper outlining the results. For samples of past students' Honors Thesis work, please click here. You work under the supervision or direction of an Honors Thesis committee. This committee must have at least two members. The committee members are Psychology faculty who are working in your area of interest or who are otherwise willing to serve on your committee. Application to undertake an Honor’s Thesis must be made to-and granted by-the Psychology Department before you begin. Many students take Independent Study credits the semester before they take Honor’s Thesis Credits to develop their research proposal.

Honors Thesis credits count as general upper division electives. They don’t count as the Psychology electives since they are

  1. Graded only on a Pass/Fail basis
  2. They don’t cover one specific area of Psychology. The only way to graduate with Honors in Psychology is by doing an Honors Thesis.

Your thesis advisor will supply documentation for this to appear on your transcripts/diploma.

Extracurricular research/volunteer

If you would like to check out psychology research on a limited basis, you can volunteer to help out on ongoing research, perhaps helping to collect data, prepare materials, assist a thesis student, etc. Many students volunteer when they are not able to commit large amounts or regular time to a research lab. It is also a great way to try different labs to ensure you enjoy the type and approach to research being implemented.

Independent Study or Research

Independent Research courses allow you to get involved in research more intensively but is not as involved as a thesis. Students work in close collaboration with a professor to review the literature, devise hypotheses, design, carry out, and write up a research project. This can be a good alternative to a thesis, if you are interested in the research but not the major writing and year-long commitment that a thesis involves. The Independent Study option requires that you study a topic that is not offered in the regular Psych curriculum, via library research, reading, writing, and discussion with the professor. Both types of Independent courses require scheduled weekly meetings with the professor and a significant amount of time and effort, equivalent to a regular 3000 or 4000-level course. Arrangements for Independent Study must be made with the professor before the semester starts and requires writing a proposal to outline. These course credits count as general upper division electives. They don’t count as the Psychology electives since they are 1) graded only on a Pass/Fail basis, 2) they don’t cover one specific area of Psychology.

External Research Opportunities

There are also numerous external research opportunities available to psychology students. Some are listed below.