Independent Study Courses

The Psychology Department offers a number of undergraduate-level independent study courses. This provides an opportunity for students to receive course credit for the academic component of their work when they are:

  • Working in a research lab
  • Conducting their own research
  • Performing an in-depth study on a psychological topic
  • Participating in an internship or volunteer opportunity

When a particular area of psychology is not covered by a regular course offering, an independent study course provides students knowledge and experience in that area. Course content, assignments, meeting times and grade requirements are arranged with a psychology faculty member.

Things You Should Know About Independent Study Courses:

  • The student is responsible for finding a faculty research sponsor.
  • All independent study courses require permission of the instructor.
  • Courses eligible to count toward the major lab requirements and/or toward the major credits must be taken for at least 3 credits in one term for the Psychology major and at least 2 credits in one term for the BCN major.
  • Credit/No Credit courses can only be used toward categorical lab requirements; they cannot be used toward the required major credits.
  • Letter-graded courses can be used for both the lab requirement and will count toward the required credits toward the major requirements.
  • Guideline to determine how much time to work for each credit- you should spend at least 3 hours working each week for each credit hour (i.e. 3 credits = 9 hours a week and 4 credits = 12 hours a week working on the research project). For Spring or Summer half-terms, you will need to complete 6 hours of work per week for each credit hour.
  • Students should meet with an academic advisor to confirm how these courses will fulfill requirements. Course credit is not retroactive and must be pre-arranged.

If you have questions about independent study, contact the Psychology Student Academic Affairs Office by coming to 1343 East Hall, by email to psych.saa@umich.edu, or by calling 734.764.2580.

Directed Research Courses

PSYCH 200 Independent Study in Psychological Issues (1-4 credits)

This course allows a student to focus on a Psychological Issue of personal interest, under the supervision of a Psychology faculty member. Completion of an introductory psychology course or a first year seminar is recommended. This course will not count toward elective credits for the Psychology or BCN majors. This course cannot be used to fulfill the lab requirement for the Psychology and BCN majors. This course may be taken for a maximum of 4 credits. Letter graded (A-E).

PSYCH 322 Field Practicum in Research Techniques for Psychology (1-4 credits)

This course offers an opportunity to apply academic knowledge within the context of a psychological research setting. It is intended to be an introductory experience within a psychology research lab. Completion of an introductory psychology course and at least sophomore standing are recommended. The faculty member and the student develop an academic component (e.g. paper, reading list) that will pertain to the student's experience in the lab. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. Credit is granted for a combined total of six credits of 300-level Psychology research (Psych 322 & 326.  including old course numbers Psych 323 & 327). Students should contact a Psychology Advisor to determine if these courses will work in their major plan. LS&A Experiential. These courses are Mandatory graded Credit/No Credit.

PSYCH 326 Faculty Directed Early Research for Psychology (1-4 credits)

The student works with the instructor on various aspects of psychological research, completes readings, collects and analyzes data and produces a written report as directed by the instructor. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. A student may elect a combined maximum of 6 credits of 300-level Psychology research (Psych 322 & 326. including old course numbers Psych 323 & 327). Students should contact a Psychology Advisor to determine if these courses will work in their major. LS&A Independent. Letter graded (A-E).

PSYCH 422 Faculty Directed Advanced Research for Psychology as a Natural Science (1-4 credits)

Arrangements may be made for adequately prepared students to undertake individual research of their own design under the direction of a faculty member. These courses are intended for students who have completed either PSYCH 322, 323, 326 or 327 and/or have the equivalent research experience (e.g. PSYCH 331/332), are of at least junior standing and have completed at least one psychology breadth course. Please note that the student must have a proposal approved by both the faculty member and then reviewed by the Undergraduate Chair and/or the Committee for Undergraduate Studies before registering for these courses. Requires a final paper, a copy of which must be given to the Psychology Student Academic Affairs Office before the student's grade is issued. A maximum of 6 credits may be earned. Only one section of these courses may be taken within the same semester. Students should contact a Psychology Advisor to determine if these courses will work in their major. LS&A Independent. Letter graded (A-E).

422 Proposal Form (PDF file)

PSYCH 423 Faculty Directed Advanced Research for Psychology as a Social Science (1-4 credits)

Arrangements may be made for adequately prepared students to undertake individual research of their own design under the direction of a faculty member. These courses are intended for students who have completed either PSYCH 322, 323, 326 or 327 and/or have the equivalent research experience (e.g. PSYCH 331/332), are of at least junior standing and have completed at least one psychology breadth course. Please note that the student must have a proposal approved by both the faculty member and then reviewed by the Undergraduate Chair and/or the Committee for Undergraduate Studies before registering for these courses. Requires a final project, a copy of which must be given to the Psychology Student Academic Affairs Office before the student's grade is issued. A maximum of 6 credits may be earned. Only one section of these courses may be taken within the same semester. Psych 423 will fulfill the upper-level writing requirement, as well as the methods-based laboratory requirement (for psychology and BCN concentrators) and the research-laboratory requirement (for neuroscience concentrators). Students should contact a Psychology Advisor to determine how these courses will work in their major. LS&A Independent. Letter graded (A-E).

423 Proposal Form (PDF file)

Directed Reading Courses

PSYCH 420 Faculty Directed Advanced Tutorial Reading for Psychology as a Natural Science (1-4 credits)

PSYCH 421 Faculty Directed Advanced Tutorial Reading for Psychology as a Social Science (1-4 credits)

Arrangements may be made for adequately prepared students to further explore a topic of interest in psychology as a natural (420) / social (421) science under the direction of a faculty member. It is recommended that the student be of at least junior standing and have completed one psychology breadth course. Please note that the student must have a proposal approved by the faculty member and then reviewed by the Undergraduate Chair and/or the Committee for Undergraduate Studies before registering for these courses. Requires a final project, a copy of which must be given to the Psychology Student Academic Affairs Office before the student's grade is issued. For credit hour specifications, see the top of page 1 (*). May be repeated for up to 6 credits total. Only one section of these courses may be taken within the same semester. Students should contact a Psychology Advisor to determine if these courses will work in their major. LS&A Independent. Letter graded (A-E).

420/421 Proposal form (PDF file)

Field Practicum Courses

PSYCH 404 Field Practicum (1-4 credits)

PSYCH 405 Field Practicum in a University Setting (1-4 credits)

Students may make arrangements to work in an agency where psychological principles may be observed and utilized. This is often an internship or volunteer opportunity. Students must arrange the placement and contact a faculty member with interests in that area to be an advisor. For credit hour specifications, see the top of page 1 (*). The faculty member and the student develop an academic component (e.g. paper, reading list) that will pertain to the student's placement. The faculty member and the student will have regular contact to monitor progress. It is recommended that the student have already completed at least one psychology breadth course. PSYCH 404 may be repeated for a total of 8 credits; PSYCH 405 may be repeated for a total of 4 credits. These courses may not count towards either the BBCS or Neuroscience concentrations. Students should contact a Psychology Advisor to determine if these courses will work in the Psychology major. LS&A Experiential. These courses are Mandatory graded Credit/No Credit.

404/405 Proposal Form (PDF file)

Honors Program Research Courses

PSYCH 424 Senior Honors Research I for Psychology as a Natural Science (2-4 credits)

Requires a U–M cumulative 3.4 or higher gpa, also an application and acceptance into the program.

The primary focus of Senior Honors I is to begin research according to the plan set forth in the application. Students must arrange for a faculty sponsor, attend an Honors Program Informational Session and be accepted into the Psychology Honors Program before registering for these courses. Students will be expected to participate in two semesters of academic course work (conducting and analyzing research), submit a final thesis, as well as present their findings at the Annual Research Forum (poster presentation). Application forms are available on the Psychology Departmental website in the Prospective Student section of Honors. It is recommended that the student have already completed STATS 250, PSYCH 322 or 326 AND a Methods Lab and/or have extensive experience with research. May not be repeated for credit. Letter graded (A-E).

PSYCH 426 Senior Honors Research II for Psychology as a Natural Science (2-4 credits)

The primary focus in Senior Honors II is the continued implementation of a student's honors research design culminating in the final acceptable honors thesis and poster preparation for the year-end poster session. Students should meet with the honors advisor to ensure that they are meeting all the concentration requirements. Students must have completed PSYCH 424 and be in good standing with the Psychology Honors Program maintaining a 3.4 overall GPA. May not be repeated for credit. Letter graded (A-E).

Senior Thesis Directed Research Courses

PSYCH 428 Senior Thesis: Research in Psychology as a Natural Science (2-4 credits)
Requires a concentration GPA of 3.5 or better, also an application and acceptance into the program.

The primary focus of the Senior Thesis is the development of a research plan in collaboration with a sponsoring faculty member. This will include the writing of an extensive literature review on the topic, culminating in an acceptable research proposal that is approved by both the faculty member and then reviewed by a member of the Committee for Undergraduate Studies before registering for these courses. Students will be expected to participate in two semesters of academic course work (conducting and analyzing research), submit a final thesis, as well as present their findings at the Annual Research Forum (poster presentation).

It is expected that the student have already completed STATS 250(350), PSYCH 322, 323, 326 or 327 AND PSYCH 422 or 423 and/or have extensive research experience. Students must indicate a second reader. These courses may count towards concentration credit but students will need to speak with a Psychology Department Advisor to make this assessment. LSA Independent. Letter graded (A-E). 

Note: This is not the Psychology Departmental Honors Thesis Program .

Senior Thesis 428 Proposal Form