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Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Research Apprenticeship

Through PSY 308, students can gain research experience under the supervision of a faculty member. Many professors will allow you to assist with their research, and some professors may allow you to design and run your own research.  Students can gain experience in any and all phases of the research process, including literature searches, formulation of instruments, pilot studies, data collection, data coding, and computer analysis. Before a student can serve as an RA, they must complete PSY 331 and 332.  They must also be approved by the department and typically need to have completed at least 60 total credits.  RA’s are graded on a pass/fail basis and you can repeat the experience for up to 6 credits.  

Advice from faculty on how to become a research apprentice: 

“Take more than one class with the same professor so you can get to know him/her.  Attending Psi Chi & Psychology Club Faculty/Student social events in the fall and spring can also help with this.”

“Pay attention to which professors teach which classes, and ask around to learn about the research interests of various faculty members.  Just as important, use the psych. classes you pick to explore different aspects of psychology, so that you can get an idea of what interests you.” - More info. on faculty research interests here

“There’s no getting around it ---- At some point you’re going to have to ask a professor if they’re interested in taking on a new RA next semester, next year, etc.  The sooner you express interest, the better.”

“Offer to stay on for more than one semester.  Many faculty research projects won’t be completed in just four months; staying on will allow you to participate in more steps of the research process and it’s often easier on the professor.”

“Without a doubt, serving as an RA is one of the very best things you can do if you’re interested in going to graduate school.  A professor that you’ve worked with directly can write a pretty convincing letter of recommendation.”

2. Psychology Honors Program

The Honors Program is designed to give qualified students the opportunity to develop their understanding of and skills in psychological research.  The Honors Project is an extensive piece of research designed and conducted by the student under the supervision of a faculty advisor.  It is a nine credit program consisting of three credits in the honors seminar, concurrent enrollment in advanced research design, and three credits of independent work completed in subsequent semesters.

If you are accepted into the program, you will enroll for 489 and Psy420 in the Spring semester.  It is a seminar course that covers theory development, research design and proposal writing. At the end of the seminar, you will have completed a proposal for your project (Introduction and Methods sections) and have chosen an advisor for your project.  Currently, the Psychology Department strongly recommends that students work in pairs on their honors projects. The proposal is necessary for registration for the final credits of the program.  In the following fall and spring semesters you will enroll in another 3 credits of individual apprenticeship working with your advisor.  Most students will complete their projects in the Spring; although, it is possible to finish by fall.  All honors students are required to present their work in a formal forum of some sort (local or regional undergraduate research conferences are the most common) and all will be encouraged to submit proposals for funding.

More info. and a downloadable application for the program can be found here.

Current requirements for admission to the program:

Junior standing (during Honors Seminar-PSY 489)
2) Completion of PSY100, PSY331, MTH 145 or 250 before beginning Honors Seminar. PSY 420 before PSY 489 or concurrently with PSY 489
3) 3.25 cumulative grade point average in psychology courses
4) A cumulative overall grade point average of 3.00
5) Recommendation from two psychology department faculty
Completion of an application to the program
Selection into the honors program by the departmental honors program selection committee

Requirements for earning a degree with Honors in Psychology:

1) Completion of psychology major
3.50 cumulative grade point average in psychology courses*
3) A cumulative overall grade point average of 3.25*

4) Completion of Honors Seminar (PSY 489, three credits total)
Completion and presentation of Honors Project (PSY 482, three credits, of which at least one must be completed in the candidate’s last semester)
6) Exhibit continuous appropriate professional behavior as defined by departmental standards

*GPA computed the semester before a student graduates.