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Laying the groundwork for thesis eligbility:
In most cases, faculty are reluctant to take on thesis supervision unless someone has been working in their lab for at least a semester or two. Thus you should ideally be in a lab, learning the skills, and laying the groundwork for your project by your junior year, if not before. Unfortunately, finding a research position can be challenging right now, as many labs are still not running at full capacity as we come back from the pandemic. If you are not able to find a position in Psychology, you may wish to try Psychiatry, the MADRC, or other units where faculty do not have as much exposure to undergraduates and the field may be less crowded. If you still aren't able to find a position now, you might talk to the labs you are interested in to see if you can attend their lab meetings, or if there are skills you can work on to make you a good candidate when a position does open up. The STAR Scholars YouTube presentation on finding a research position - and what to do if you can't this year - may also be helpful.
- Apply for research opportunities in the Psych Dept.
- What to do if your primary research mentor is outside of the Psych Dept. (see the applicable section)
- Explore the STAR Scholars Program
Good luck with your search!
-Dr. Cindy Lustig, Thesis Program Director
Thesis Info Session (PDF)
For a comprehensive overview of the thesis program, including the timeline, application, requirements, curriculum and more, please review our VIRTUAL INFO SESSION.
REQUIRED TRAINING for All Undergraduates Engaged in Research
All students engaged in research are required to complete Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship (RCRS) training. This certification is valid for 3 years. If you've already completed the training, please ensure that your certification is still valid. If your certification expires before the end of the current semester, you will need to retake the RCRS training. Click here to check the expiration date for your existing certification. Students who do not complete the required training within 30 days of beginning research may be dropped from their independent study credit. For more information about the RCRS requirement, visit the Research Ethics and Compliance website.
Honors Program Requirements
Students admitted to the Honors Research Program must meet these requirements in order to be awarded the “honors” designation in the major for the college B.A. or B.S. degree.
- Meet all major requirements for graduation — To complete your Senior Major Release make an appointment with the Psychology Honors Coordinator, EH 1343.
- Maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.4 (effective September 1, 2006) through graduation. (This is a requirement set by the College of LSA for honors degrees)
- Participate in two terms of honors research independent study listed below — These courses are 2-4 credits per term, are graded, and may count towards the required major credits.
- Psychology 424: Senior Honors Research I
- Psychology 426: Senior Honors Research II
- Participate in the Annual Research Forum — All Psychology Honors students present their research at the Psychology Research Forum in April. The Research Forum provides a great opportunity for you to give a professional presentation of your thesis research. All Honors students are required to present a poster at the Research Forum, as your work represents some of the best undergraduate research projects in our department!
- Complete a thesis describing an original empirical project in collaboration with a faculty mentor — Theses typically report a single empirical study, and are written in a style appropriate for submission to a scientific journal. The thesis is typically 30-40 double spaced pages, and must conform to standard American Psychological Association (APA) format. An electronic copy of the thesis must be submitted by one of the submission dates (April 1, August 1 or December 1). Past theses are bound and are available for viewing in the Psychology Student Academic Affairs Office, 1343 East Hall. Also see Past Thesis Topics.
- Meet the submission deadline for graduation — Students must meet a submission deadline of April 1, August 1 or December 1, during the term of graduation. You MUST meet this deadline in order to be reviewed for graduation in the term. If you cannot meet it, you may postpone the date of graduation until the following term in order to allow the honors evaluation to be completed and included with your degree. An honors designation cannot be added to a degree already awarded by the college.
LSA Honors - Changing Your Graduation Date
- Receive a final thesis evaluation of “honors” from the faculty review committee.
Theses are evaluated by three faculty readers: the mentor, an outside reader (a faculty member not involved in the research project), and a faculty representative of the Honors Program. The vast majority of theses result in a designation of "with honors" and only 1% "with highest honors." You will be notified by email when the evaluation is completed and reported to the College.
Preparing for the Program
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 302, 303, 331, 341, 351, 361, 371, 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.
Finding a Research Mentor/Project
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 Psychology advisors, instructors, current students, and the Honors Program Director for assistance.
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?
How to Search for Faculty Research Mentors
- Find out about faculty research in cognitive, social, clinical, developmental, organizational, personality, and biopsychology through area websites.
- Search through psychology’s in-house research labs.
- Attend research talks (“brown bags”) by psychology graduate students and faculty (listed on department Events Calendar)
- Review research opportunity listings for undergraduates in the psychology department (“want ads” from faculty members) through Departmental Research Opportunities, or in the College’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).
- Browse web pages for research groups related to psychology on campus, such as:
- The Institute for Social Research
- Research Center for Group Dynamics
- Survey Research Center
- Inter-University Consortium on Political & Social Research
- Center for Human Growth and Development
- The Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute (MBNI)
- the Institute for Research on Women and Gender
- the Medical School
- UM Transportation Research Institute
- Kresge Hearing Research Institute
- Institute of Gerontology
- Addiction Research Center
- UM Substance Abuse Research Center
- Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center
- Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture, and Health
- School of Social Work
- Ross School of Business
- School of Education
- School of Public Health
- Environmental Psychology
- Do some searches on the UM home site for keywords on your research interests
- Talk to other undergraduates who are working on research! Join student interest groups, such as Psi Chi (National Honor Society in Psychology) or the Undergraduate Psychological Society; 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)
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. 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. If you want to work with a faculty member who does not have an appointment in the Department of Psychology, you must find a Department of Psychology faculty member who would be willing to act as a co-sponsor.
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!
The Application Process and Deadline
Students are expected to submit their 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 complete the following:
- Email Thesis Program Coordinator Rachel Watson at email@example.com for application link and instructions
- Prepare your research proposal with guidance from your faculty mentor to attach to the application form.
Students have the opportunity to apply at three 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 their thesis in Fall 2023 have the following deadlines:
- 1st deadline: Weds. June 7, 2023; students will find out their application status by June 21
- 2nd deadline: Weds. August 2, 2023; students will find out their application status by August 16
- LATE deadline: Fri. September 1, 2023; students will find out their application status by September 7.
***There is no penalty against students who apply by the Sept. 1 (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 2023 is tentatively planned for Friday, Sept. 8, 2023.
Students beginning their thesis in Winter 2023 have the following deadline: Mon. December 5, 2022; students will find out their application status by December 14.
No applications will be accepted after the above deadlines.
** No Exceptions **
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Honors Program courses
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 mandatory to assist you as you complete your project. Please consult the Honors Canvas page 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
Completing the Upper-Level Writing and Lab Requirements
Honors research students enroll in two terms of independent research with their faculty mentor in both Psychology 424 and 426 for both majors. These courses are 2-4 credits per term, are graded, and could possibly count towards the required major credits. You must be admitted to the honors program in order to enroll in these courses.
Participation in the Honors Seminar may satisfy:
Psych 424: Experiential Lab
Psych 426: Methods Lab or Experiential Lab; meets ULWR
Psych 424: Research Lab
Psych 426: Methods Lab or Research Lab; meets ULWR
Graduating with an Honors Degree
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.