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Independent Study and Course Applications

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.

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.

How to Find a Research Mentor or Faculty Sponsor

To learn more about getting involved in research, visit the Research page

To find a Psychology faculty sponsor for Directed Reading or Field Practicum courses, use these helpful resources:

  • Faculty Research Interests: This website will allow you to search for faculty who are doing research with your topic of interest. If a list of faculty appears after your search, check their research and teaching interests description on their profile. Contact the faculty if you want to know more about their research project or want to ask for opportunities to work in their lab.

What if my Mentor/Sponsor is not in the Psychology Department?

There must be a faculty member affiliated with Psychology involved in your project/research for you to be able to receive credit through the Psychology Department. If your primary mentor/sponsor is not affiliated with the Psychology Department, you will need to find a co-mentor/co-sponsor within Psychology. Your co-mentor/co-sponsor should be someone with experience with the topic you are planning to research, and should verify that your project is Psychology-related. The Psychology faculty member would be responsible for entering your electronic course permission request (if applicable), entering your grade, and answering Psych-specific questions (ex. APA formatting, etc.). You should coordinate with your primary mentor/sponsor and your co-mentor/co-sponsor to make sure you are all aware of the work to be submitted, how you will be graded, and how you will keep in touch to review your progress. To find a co-mentor/co-sponsor, use the resources posted above under "How to find a Research Mentor of Faculty Sponsor."

How to Determine the Number of Credits to Register For

It is up to your mentor/lab to keep track of your hours and make sure you are fulfilling this requirement. You may work more hours some weeks and fewer others, as long as it balances out. Another way to view this requirement is that you must complete 45 hours over the course of the semester per credit earned, regardless of whether it is a full or half-term.

During a full term (Fall, Winter, or Spring/Summer semesters), this averages to at least 3 hours working on the project/research each week for each credit hour (i.e. 3 credits = 9 hours a week and 4 credits = 12 hours a week). For Spring or Summer half-terms, this averages to at least 6 hours of work per week for each credit hour. 

Independent Study Class Options

Psych 331: Research Methods in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science

Psych 331 is a research lab immersion experience that also provides a formal lab course experience.  

  • It is the recommended entry lab course for students who want to join a professor’s research lab in Biopsychology or Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience areas. 
  • It satisfies the upper-level LS&A writing requirement (ULWR)
  • It also satisfies the Group 1 lab requirement (course-based lab) for Biopsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience (BCN) majors, Psychology majors, or Neuroscience majors.   Alternatively, Psych 331 can be used to satisfy the Group 2 lab requirement (independent lab or second lab) for students in those majors if you will satisfy your Group 1 requirement with a different lab course.
  • It involves about 10 hours per week of biopsychology-related research in a professor’s lab, a once-a-week 2-hr class meeting, and a rigorous amount of writing in order to fulfill the LS&A ULWR. 

The purpose of this course is three-fold:

  1. Provide students with opportunities to gain in-depth practical laboratory experience by assisting in the research lab of an individual faculty member in the Biopsychology or Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience Program.
  2. Introduce students to selected general methods and techniques used in the field of biopsychology and cognitive neuroscience.
  3. Provide practical knowledge about research design, quantification of behavior, scientific writing, the use of animals in research, and miscellaneous techniques used in biopsychology and cognitive neuroscience research.

Intended Audience: Students majoring in either Biopsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience (BCN) or in Neuroscience who are interested in gaining actual research  experience while fulfilling their major’s lab requirement and LS&A ULWR are encouraged to apply.   You must apply to the professor whose lab you wish to join.

PSYCH 331 APPLICATION

Submit a completed 331 application form directly to the professor whose lab you are applying to work in (go to application link for detailed instructions). Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until all available positions have been filled. The application describes the available PSYCH 331 lab sections. Make sure to follow up with the professor. Once the student is accepted into a PSYCH 331 lab section, the faculty member will contact the Psychology SAA Office, and an override will be given.

Class Format: Students will attend the PSYCH 331 lecture 2 hours/week and are expected to work 10 hours/week in a faculty member's PSYCH 331 lab.

Directed Research Courses (Psych 200, 322, 326, 422 & 423)

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).

How to Register for Psych 200: Once you have found a faculty member to work with, the faculty member will need to enter a permission for you to enroll in their section of Psych 200. Once the permission is processed, you will receive an email indicating that you are eligible to register in Wolverine Access. You will choose your credit hours when registering. 

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. This course is mandatory graded Credit/No Credit and while the course can fulfill the research/experiential lab requirements for the Psych or BCN major, they do not count towards a student's overall 32 credits.

How to Register for Psych 322: Once you have found a faculty member to do research with, the faculty member will need to enter a permission for you to enroll in their section of Psych 326. Once the permission is processed, you will receive an email indicating that you are eligible to register in Wolverine Access. You will choose your credit hours when registering.

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). Can fulfill the research/experiential lab requirements for the Psych or BCN major; students should contact a Psychology Advisor or consult their major worksheet. LS&A Independent. Letter graded (A-E).

How to Register for Psych 326: Once you have found a faculty member to do research with, the faculty member will need to enter a permission for you to enroll in their section of Psych 326. Once the permission is processed, you will receive an email indicating that you are eligible to register in Wolverine Access. You will choose your credit hours when registering. 

PSYCH 422 Faculty Directed Advanced Research for Psychology (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. Psych 422 will fulfill the methods-based or research-based laboratory requirement (for both Psychology and BCN majors).  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. It is not ULWR eligible - students seeking to fulfill their ULWR should enroll in Psych 423 (see below). A maximum of 6 credits may be earned. Only one section of these courses may be taken within the same semester. Can fulfill the research/experiential lab OR methods lab requirements for the Psych or BCN major; students should contact a Psychology Advisor or consult their major worksheet. LS&A Independent. Letter graded (A-E).

How to Register for Psych 422: Once you have found a faculty member to do research with, complete the application below. The faculty member will be electronically notified to approve your application, and then it will be reviewed by the Psychology SAA Office. Once approved, you will receive an email indicating that you are eligible to register in Wolverine Access. You will choose your credit hours when registering. 

422 Proposal Form (PDF file)

PSYCH 423 Faculty Directed Advanced Research for Psychology - ULWR (3-4 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 or research-based laboratory requirement (for both Psychology and BCN concentrators). Requires a minimum 25 page paper to meet ULWR standards - page count may include cover page, references, appendices, etc. Can fulfill the research/experiential lab OR methods lab requirements for the Psych or BCN major; students should contact a Psychology Advisor or consult their major worksheet. LS&A Independent. Letter graded (A-E).

How to Register for Psych 423: Once you have found a faculty member to do research with, complete the application below. The faculty member will be electronically notified to approve your application, and then it will be reviewed by the Psychology SAA Office. Once approved, you will receive an email indicating that you are eligible to register in Wolverine Access. You will choose your credit hours when registering. 

423 Proposal Form (PDF file)

Directed Reading Courses (Psych 420 & 421)

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.

Psych 420 and 421 can count as upper-level electives for the Psych major, but CANNOT be the student's only 400-level course. 

Psych 420 can count as an advanced course fot the BCN major, but CANNOT be the student's only 400-level course. Psych 421 does not count for BCN. 

Students should contact a Psychology Advisor or consult their major worksheet. LS&A Independent. Letter graded (A-E).

How to Register for Psych 420/421: Once you have found a faculty member to work with, complete the application below. The faculty member will be electronically notified to approve your application, and then it will be reviewed by the Psychology SAA Office. Once approved, you will receive an email indicating that you are eligible to register in Wolverine Access. You will choose your credit hours when registering. 

420/421 Proposal form (PDF file)

Field Practicum Courses (Psych 404 & 405)

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 organization where psychological principles may be observed and utilized. Students must arrange the placement and contact a faculty member with interests in that area to be an advisor. Students are expected to work 45 hours per credit enrolled. The faculty member and student develop an academic component (e.g. paper, reading list, journal entries, PowerPoint, etc) 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. Students should contact a Psychology Advisor to determine if these courses will satisfy Psychology or BCN major requirements. LS&A Experiential. These courses are mandatory graded Credit/No Credit.

How to Register for Psych 404/405: Once you have found a faculty member to work with, complete the application below. The faculty member will be electronically notified to approve your application, and then it will be reviewed by the Psychology SAA Office. Once approved, you will receive an email indicating that you are eligible to register in Wolverine Access. You will choose your credit hours when registering. 

404/405 Proposal Form (PDF file)

Honors Program Research Courses (Psych 424 & 426)

The Honors sequence is a 2-semester commitment (the student's final 2 semesters). Students must have at least a 3.4 GPA and APPLY to the Psychology Honors program before permission will be granted to enroll in Psych 424. Visit the Prospective Honors Students page for more information.

PSYCH 424 Senior Honors Research I for Psychology (2-4 credits)

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 (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 Research Courses (Psych 428 & 429)

Requires a major GPA (Psych or BCN) of 3.5 or higher. Students with an overall GPA of 3.4 or higher should apply for the Honors thesis (see above). Students completing a Senior Thesis have the same expectations and requirements as Honors thesis students - the only difference is the GPA requirement. Therefore, Senior Thesis applicants may find the information on the "Prospective Honors Students" website helpful, particularly the sections on "Preparing for the Program" and "Finding a Research Project/Mentor."

Overrides into Psych 428 can only be granted once a student completes the application and is accepted into the program. The senior thesis sequence is a 2-semester commitment (the student's final 2 semesters). 

PSYCH 428 Senior Thesis: Research in Psychology I (2-4 credits)

  • May fulfill experiential lab rquirement for Psych majors
  • May fulfill research lab reqiurement for BCN majors 

PSYCH 429 Senior Thesis: Research in Psychology II (2-4 credits)

  • May fulfill methods lab OR experiential lab for Psych majors; meets ULWR
  • May fulfill methods lab OR research lab for BCN majors; meets ULWR

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 the Theis Program Director. Students will be expected to participate in two semesters of academic course work (conducting and analyzing research; attending approximately bi-weekly class meetings), 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, 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). 

Application Process

Students are expected to submit their Senior Thesis application by one of the deadlines set yearly (June and August) to begin during Fall term. Students who wish to begin Winter term have one deadline to submit their application in December. 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 the summer after junior year to receive acceptance for their senior year.

When applying to the program, students should submit the following:

  1. An online Psychology Thesis Program Application
  2. Your application must include your research proposal.

Application Deadline

The Psych & BCN Thesis program has set deadlines each academic year. Students have the opportunity to apply at two different times before the Fall term begins. All deadlines are weighed the same; it does not help or harm you to apply by a specific deadline.

Students beginning the Thesis/Psych 428 FA-18 have the following deadlines:

  • 1st deadline: Weds. June 13th; students will find out their application status by June 22nd
  • 2nd deadline: Weds. August 15th; students will find out their application status by August 24th
  • LATE deadline: Fri. September 7th; students will find out their application status by Thurs. Sept. 13th. 

***There is no penalty against students who apply by the Sept. 7th (late) deadline, but in order to give ample review time, all students are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible.***

The first class meeting for all Thesis students in Fall 2018 will be Fri. September 14th at 10am in B844 East Hall.

Students beginning the Thesis/Psych 428 WI-19 have the following deadline: Mon. December 10th; students will find out their application status by Wed. December 19th

No applications will be accepted after the above deadlines.

** No Exceptions **

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