Honors Program in Psychology

The honors program in Psychology permits majors of unusual academic ability to explore topics in greater depth than the curriculum normally allows.  Under faculty supervision, a student normally spends the first semester of the senior year doing library research, learning the appropriate methodology, designing an empirical research project, and preparing a written proposal and oral presentation of that project (PSYC 391).  In the second semester the proposal is implemented, culminating in a written honors thesis and oral presentation (PSYC 392).

To join the program a set of prerequisites must be met and these are listed below. If you are interested and believe the prerequisites have been met you should contact the Honors Program Coordinator in the Psychology Department to review this and to admit you to the program. In this meeting you will also discuss potential advising mentors (which you can begin to consider on your own based on knowledge of your own research interests and the department faculty research interests). This meeting can be done by scheduling an appointment or over email (see the contact information at the bottom of the page).

Because the program lasts throughout the entire final year of your academic program at Lehigh, the ideal time to join is prior to registration in Spring of your junior year. That allows you to plan your Fall schedule around the program. However, if you do not do this, there is still time to decide to join up until the end of the drop/add period in the Fall semester of your final year.
 

Prerequisites

  • Psychology major
  • Completed or enrolled in PSYC 210: Experimental Research Methods and Lab
  • Overall GPA of 3.5 or higher
  • Students who do not meet the eligibility requirements for the honors program should discuss with their advisor the feasibility of completing a senior project (without honors).

PSYC 391 (4 credits):  Honors Thesis Requirements for First Semester

Selecting Advisors:

  • Students must choose a primary advisor. The primary advisor overseeing the student’s research must have a full-time or joint appointment in the Department of Psychology.  Students interested in working with faculty outside the psychology department can do so in a co-advising situation as long as they have a primary advisor inside the department. A statement indicating the student’s supervising faculty member must be on file with the Honors Program Coordinator by the end of the second week of the semester (the Add/Drop Deadline).
  • A second faculty reader for the project must be chosen in consultation with the primary advisor. The responsibility of the second reader is to be a resource for the student as he or she works on the proposal and to read and provide feedback on full drafts of both the proposal and the finished thesis.  Second readers do not need to have a full-time appointment in the Department of Psychology. A statement indicating the student’s second reader must be on file with the Honors Program Coordinator by the end of the sixth week of the semester.

Developing the Thesis Proposal:

  • During the course of the first semester, students will develop a thesis proposal in collaboration with their primary advisor. This typically includes developing a research question, engaging in a thorough review of the relevant literature, and designing a study to examine the research question.
  • Before Pacing Break, students must produce a one-page pre-proposal describing their intended research topic/question and their current thinking about how to approach that topic/question in their thesis project. Students must submit this pre-proposal to their primary advisor, second reader, and the Honors Program Coordinator before Pacing Break. At this point some students may already have a specific experiment in mind. Others may still be delving into the literature and working to hone in on a particular question. In either case, the pre-proposal should reflect the student’s current thinking about the direction of the project. The expectation is that students will work with their advisor to prepare this document and share it with the second reader so that he or she can provide suggestions and/or feedback. The student should meet with the second reader (alone or with the advisor) to talk about the project.
  • Throughout the first semester, students will prepare a written research proposal (including a literature review and description of the data collection methods that will be used). Students are encouraged to get feedback from their primary advisor on this proposal throughout the semester.
  • A complete proposal must be finished prior to the oral presentations (which take place on the first Monday following the last day of classes) so that it can be shared with the primary advisor and second reader before the presentation.

Attending Honors Program Meetings:

  • During the first semester, students will attend and participate in regular (roughly twice per month) meetings with the other honors students and the Honors Program Coordinator. These meetings are designed to assist students in navigating the steps of the thesis process, to provide opportunities for students to share their ideas, get feedback, and practice talking about their projects, and to create a sense of community among honors students.

Submitting and Presenting the Thesis Proposal:

  • Oral presentations of the proposal will be made to the faculty immediately following the end of classes (on the first Monday following the last day of classes). These presentations should be 10 to 12 minutes in length.
  • A final written research proposal must be given to the primary advisor, second reader, and Honors Program Coordinator four days following the oral presentations (Friday of the first week of finals).

Decisions Regarding Continued Eligibility for Departmental Honors

  • Students will be informed by the Honors Program Coordinator during the semester break (prior to the first day of classes) of the faculty decision regarding their continued eligibility for departmental honors.  This decision will be based on the quality of the student's work in PSYC 391 and the recommendation of the student’s primary advisor and second reader.

 

PSYC 392 (3 credits):  Honors Thesis Requirements for Second Semester

Conducting the Proposed Research and Writing the Thesis:

  • In most cases, during the second semester students will collect the data for their project and conduct data analyses. Students and advisors need to be mindful of Institutional Review Board (IRB) deadlines as they plan their project.
  • Students will prepare an American Psychological Association (APA)-style research report (thesis) combining revised introduction, hypothesis, and method sections (from the proposal) with results and discussion sections. Students are encouraged to get feedback from their primary advisor on this document throughout the semester.
  • The complete draft of the thesis must be finished prior to the oral presentations (which take place on the first Monday following the last day of classes) so that it can be shared with the primary advisor and second reader before the presentation.

Attending Honors Program Meetings:

  • During the course of the second semester, students will attend and participate in occasional (roughly 3 total) meetings with the other honors students and the Honors Program Coordinator.

Submitting and Presenting the Thesis:

  • Students are expected to present their work at the Lehigh Valley Undergraduate Psychol­o­gy Conference (LVAIC) or an equivalent event during the spring semester.
  • Oral presentations of the final project will be made to the faculty immediately following the end of classes (on the first Monday following the last day of classes). These presentations should be 12 to 15 minutes in length.
  • A complete draft of the thesis must be turned in to the committee prior to the final oral presentations.
  • After taking the committee's comments and sugges­tions into consideration, the student must submit a final version of the thesis to the primary advisor, second reader, and honor program coordinator four days following the oral presentations (Friday of the first week of finals). Honors cannot be awarded unless this has been submitted.

Final Decisions in Awarding Departmental Honors

  • The student's committee (primary advisor and second reader) is assigned the responsibility of deciding whether the student's work merits departmental honors.  If the committee is not able to agree, the primary advisor will request that a third faculty member review the student's work.
  • Students who meet the eligibility requirements and have the positive recommendation of their committee will be awarded “Departmental Honors.”

Please contact the Honors Program Coordinator (Prof. Brandone - acb210@lehigh.edu) with any questions or concerns.