||HONORS PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
Honors Research Program for Concentrators in Psychology or Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. Those interested in Neuroscience Honors, should visit the Neuroscience page for more information.
Concentrators are encouraged to consider participating in research early in their studies. Then, the Honors Program allows advanced students to collaborate directly with a faculty mentor to complete an original research project. Results from honors projects have been reported in scientific journals and presented at professional conferences. The honors research program includes two terms of independent study courses with the mentor, culminating in a written thesis report and a poster presentation. Successful program participants are awarded an honors designation at graduation (B.A. or B.S. degree “with honors”). For students with strong academic records and an interest in research, the honors program can serve as a capstone for their undergraduate studies, and as important preparation for graduate studies.
As a first step, explore your interests in research. Find out about ongoing research projects at UM by:
- Attending research talks by departmental graduate students and faculty (see the Event Calendar on this website for a schedule
- Reviewing research opportunities listed by faculty
- Reading research reports published by Michigan researchers (available on-line through MIRLYN in the PSYCHINFO database)
- Joining student organizations, such as Psi Chi (National Honor Society in Psychology); the Undergraduate Psychological Society; Students for the Advancement of Neuroscience, or the College’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).
- Review the Suggested Timeline for additional details
Once you have identified an area of interest, gain some experience in conducting research through a faculty-directed research project (Psych 322, 326, 422) or by enrolling in a specialized research methods-based course (Psych 303, 331, 341, 351, 361, 371 (372), 381, 391). You may decide to gain experience with more than one project before discovering a research area for your own potential honors project. By active participation in research, you can determine whether you want to conduct your own major project, and identify potential research mentors.
The next step in pursuing an honors research experience is to identify a Michigan faculty researcher who is conducting research of interest to you. You may also wish to consult with concentration advisors, instructors, current students, and the Honors Program Director for assistance. Once identified, you can arrange to meet with the faculty member to discuss collaborating on a project of mutual interest. Successful partnerships often result from projects that extend ongoing research by the faculty mentor. For the honors project, the student and the faculty member agree to work as a team to design and complete an empirical study. Then, the student and the faculty mentor apply together for admission to the Honors Program. In the application, you must outline the project and provide a time-line for its completion. To qualify for admission to the honors program, students must maintain a GPA greater than 3.4 (as required by the College of LSA; effective September 1, 2004). As a first step, explore your interests in research: What courses have you enjoyed the most, which readings grabbed your attention, and what problems in psychology are the most compelling to you? Then, investigate the wide range of ongoing research projects on campus that are related to your concentration studies. To do this, you might:
- Read highlights of recent research by faculty on this website and on the University News Service website.
- Explore faculty research interests in their individual profiles and through the University’s Faculty Experts Guide. Be sure to investigate other units at the university where psychology-related research takes place.
- Talk to others about their research experiences. Ask other undergraduates in your concentration about their research activities, and try to learn what types of tasks their work involves. Explore research options with the instructors and Graduate Student Instructors you know from courses by asking them about research projects they are involved in or know about in their area. Get involved in student groups to meet other students interested in your field, and ask about their recommendations. You can also see copies of past honors theses in the Psychology Student Academic Affairs Office, 1343 East Hall.
As the next step, follow up on the faculty researchers you are interested in by looking at their recent research publications. This will tell you in more detail about the type of work they are doing, help you see what a collaborative project might involve, and provide a model for the type of research paper you might write as your thesis. You can look up journal articles published by Michigan faculty members on-line through MIRLYN, under the index catalog called “PsychInfo.” Before you approach a potential faculty mentor, make sure you have a good grasp of their work, and that you are truly interested in working on a project with them. The research mentor is typically a regularly appointed faculty member at UM. The mentor does not have to be a psychologist, nor have a main appointment in the Department of Psychology. The most important requirement is that the mentor’s current research activities will provide a project of interest to you, and that the mentor will commit to working with you throughout the project. If you want to work with a faculty member who does not have an appointment in the Department of Psychology, first, see if they have a colleague in Psychology who would be willing to act as a co-sponsor on the project. If the mentor does not have a colleague in the Department of Psychology, the student will need to search through the Psychology directory/bios to determine which faculty would be appropriate to inquire whether she/he would be willing to act as a co-sponsor. How to Search for Faculty Research Mentors: Find out about research going on, and see where you’re most interested in getting involved.
- Find out about faculty research in cognitive, social, clinical, developmental, organizational, personality, and biopsychology through department web pages.
- Search through psychology’s in-house research labs.
- Attend research talks (“brown bags”) by psychology graduate students and faculty (listed on department web pages)
- Review research opportunity listings for undergraduates in the psychology department (“want ads” from faculty members) on the psychology department web pages, or in the College’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).
- Browse web pages for research groups related to psychology on campus, such as:
Do some searches on the UM home site for keywords on your research interests!
Then, when you have a few specific projects identified, approach the faculty researcher to find out how to get involved in their research. Be sure to tell them in your email that you have seen their articles, and are familiar with their work. You can ask to meet with them to discuss working with them on an independent study or an honors project!
- Talk to other undergraduates who are working on research! Join student interest groups, such as Psi Chi (National Honor Society in Psychology); the Undergraduate Psychological Society; Students for the Advancement of Neuroscience; and meet with Psychology Peer Advisors.
- Read psychology research reports published by faculty (available on-line through the Library’s MIRLYN in the PSYCHINFO database)
The Psychology Undergraduate Office offers two advising options.
The Psychology Honors Director offers walk-in advising (fall and winter terms). Times for the upcoming terms will be announced. The director will make the final decisions regarding any special exceptions.
The Psychology Honors Coordinator will schedule appointments with either prospective or current program students. The honors coordinator is available to answer general questions about the concentration and the honors thesis project. Interested students should call the Psychology Student Academic Affairs Office (764-2580) to make an appointment or click here to schedule an appointment online. The honors coordinator also handles senior concentration releases for psychology honors program students. Students should schedule an appointment for a concentration release the term before they plan to graduate (by October for April grads, April for August grads, or June for December grads).
To contact either the Honors Director or Honors Coordinator please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The LSA Honors Program also offers advising for honors students. Honors students in LSA should direct degree questions to their 1330 Mason Hall office.
Concentrators in the Psychology Honors Research Program are eligible to apply for Department of Psychology Awards to help defray the expenses associated with conducting research. The Psychology Student Academic Affairs Office will send emails to all concentrators as specific deadlines are announced. Additional information about Department of Psychology awards can be found by going to the Psychology Student Academic Affairs Office, 1343 East Hall.
Department of Psychology Awards:
Psychology Honors students are also eligible to apply for awards from the LSA Honors College. Examples of LSA Awards are:
- The Otto Graf Scholarship and Prizes are awarded to junior Honors scholars.
- The Virginia Voss Award for writing is awarded to senior Honors women.
- LSA Honors Grants are awarded to cover expenses related to research, travel, etc.
The Department of Psychology provides statistical consultants to help students with data management and analysis. These consultants are available only in the Fall and Winter academic terms. The hours of availability are listed on the Statistics Consulting page of this website.
The Center for Statistical Consultation and Research provides free consultations to enrolled students for up to one hour per week, as described on their webpage.
Students are expected to submit their Honors application by one of the three deadlines set yearly (March, June, and August) to begin during Fall term or two weeks before the Winter or Summer term to begin then. It is in the best interest of the student to turn in their completed application at least 3 weeks before registration begins for their first term of the Honors sequence. Students interested in the program should keep in mind that the program is ideally completed in conjunction with the final two terms of a student’s UM career. We recommend that students apply towards the end of their junior year to receive acceptance for their senior year. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis. Students needing an exception are encouraged to start thinking of an honors project early and should discuss possible options with the Psychology Honors Director.
When applying to the program, students should submit the following*:
*Note: As of Sept. 1, 2006, the Honors GPA requirement is a UM cumulative 3.4.
- An online Psychology Honors Application
- A UM cumulative gpa of a 3.4 or higher to apply and graduate with "Honors."
- A copy of the student’s unofficial transcript.
Prior to graduation, honors program students complete an original research report on their project in collaboration with their faculty advisor. The thesis is formatted as a standard research journal submission, averaging 30 pages in the American Psychological Association (APA) style. Each submitted thesis is evaluated by three readers: the faculty mentor, an independent faculty reader, and a representative of the honors program. More information on writing the thesis is available on the Honors CTools page.
Completed honors theses are accepted three times a year: April 1, August 1 or December 1.
Delayed submission of a senior honors thesis will delay a student’s graduation. The College of LSA will not retroactively award an honors degree. Students who need to delay the completion of their thesis will have to delay graduation if they wish to graduate with an “honors” designation.
When submitting the finished thesis, students need to bring the following to the Psychology Student Academic Affairs Office, 1343 East Hall:
Psychology Honors Theses are evaluated by the honors mentor and two outside readers that are not affiliated with the project. Students and mentors can suggest second readers when submitting their application, however, students and mentors should not be contacting possible readers themselves. The program director will make all decisions on second readers.
- One copy of the Thesis Submission Form. The thesis submission form should be filled out with the student’s mentor and should be signed by both the mentor and student.
- One hard copy of the thesis, please leave un-stapled so that it may be used for binding purposes.
- One electronic copy of the thesis, emailed to email@example.com.
Evaluation forms and copies of the theses are sent out by the Honors Program Coordinator.
If you are unable to complete your thesis as planned, there are two options available to you.
- You may decide to apply for your degree without the honors designation (without penalty).
- You may seek an extension of the deadline so that you can complete the thesis and graduate at a later time. You may even be able to walk through graduation with your class, but complete the actual degree later. There are several steps you need to take to document your status:
- Meet with your thesis mentor to agree on the project's status and a new timeline.
- File an (email) letter of intent with the Honors Program Director and Honors Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating your new timeline for completing the thesis and your graduation.
- Meet with an Honors Advisor from the LSA Honors Program.
- Keep in close contact with your mentor regarding your progress.
- In order to graduate “with honors,” you need to complete the program requirements before you apply to graduate. Honors cannot be awarded retroactively once the degree has been conferred.
The Honors Research Program is committed to helping you through each step of the project, and finding ways to make this the best possible experience for both you and your mentor. We will be in contact with you at each step to make sure you are on course, and to work with you on any problems that arise. Our track record of successful honors graduates also shows that our mentors succeed in developing great collaborations with honors students. The earlier we are made aware of possible problems, the more able we will be to help you resolve the problem and come up with possible alternatives.
With the agreement of your current mentor, you may decide to switch projects, or even mentors. However, the project time frame of two terms is very short; therefore, you need to prepare for the project well in advance of the first term of research, and have a definite plan for its content and completion date. The time to “shop around” is before committing to a specific mentor.
Honors research students enroll in two terms of independent research with their faculty mentor in both Psychology 424 and 426 for all concentrators. These courses are 2-4 credits per term, are graded, and could possibly count towards the required concentration hours. You must be admitted to the honors program in order to enroll in these courses.
Participation in the Honors Seminar may satisfy the methods-based lab requirement, experiental-based lab requirement, and/or count toward upper level psychology electives for the Psychology concentration. For the Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience Concentration, the sequence may fulfill the methods lab requirement, research-based lab requirement, and/or count as an advanced course.
Honors students may also fulfill the LSA Upper Level Writing Requirement through their thesis. The Upper-Level Writing Requirement may only be fulfilled by taking Psychology 426.
The independent research courses are just that: you and your mentor agree on when to meet, and how to spend your time during the project.
In the fall and winter terms there will be large-group meetings on topics such as writing and statistics. The meetings are offered on a voluntary basis to assist you as you complete your project. Please consult the Honors CTools website for a list of meeting times.
Completing an honors research project requires a commitment of at least two terms working in an independent study format with a faculty mentor. You must apply for, and be accepted into, the honors program before enrolling in the Senior Honors Research sequence. Honors program participants have the opportunity to meet with the Honors Program Director several times during the fall and winter terms to receive ongoing assistance and support for their research project.
Senior Honors Research Sequence courses:
PSYCH 424—Senior Honors Research I
PSYCH 426—Senior Honors Research II
Successful theses result in the awarding of an “honors” designation on the college transcript and diploma. Students admitted to the program after September 1, 2006, must have a cumulative UM GPA of 3.4 in order to graduate with an “honors” designation.
In addition to the LSA Honors College graduation events, the Department of Psychology hosts an annual graduation ceremony prior to the Spring Commencement activities to celebrate the accomplishments of the honors program students.
Once admitted to the honors concentration program, you are admitted to the LS&A Honors Program, located in 1330 Mason Hall. They maintain official student files, provide individual advising, and offer special opportunities and programs available only to honors students.
The “honors” designation on your college degree is awarded within a designated concentration. You may apply to more than one honors concentration program. However, each concentration has separate requirements for completing their specific honors program. See the program director for more information on this option.