Neuroscience Honors

PSYC 91

Honors Neuroscience Research

Qualified students (usually seniors) majoring in neuroscience have the opportunity to carry out thesis research that provides individualized advanced instruction and research experience in neuroscience that has the potential to culminate in the awarding of Honors or High Honors in the neuroscience major.  Students must enroll in two terms of PSYC 91 while carrying out their thesis work.

To begin thesis work and to enroll in PSYC 91:

1)      Students must have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.30 in the major and 3.00 overall and have successfully completed PSYC 6 or BIOL 34, and PSYC 10 or BIOL 29.

2)      Students must identify a two-person thesis committee (one of which is the research advisor) that will evaluate the thesis.  The thesis committee must include a regular faculty member of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences (PBS).  The other individual must have an active academic appointment at Dartmouth.  The thesis committee must be approved by the Chair of the Neuroscience Steering Committee.  For 2018-19, the Chair of the Neuroscience Steering Committee is Professor Jeffrey Taube.

3)      Enrollment must take place by the end of the second week of the fall term of their senior year.  A completed PDF iconPermission Checklist for Enrolling in Neuroscience Thesis Research (PSYC 91) should be submitted to the PBS Department office.  The Neuroscience Steering Committee will evaluate and approve the application.  Instructor Permission to enroll in PSYC 91 will then be granted.

To be awarded Honors at graduation the student must fulfill the following requirements:

1)      Satisfactorily fulfill all course requirements of the major and maintain at least a 3.30 major GPA.

2)      By the last day of the fifth week of the Winter term preceding the completion of the thesis, the student must submit a prospectus of the thesis work to the Chair of the Neuroscience Steering Committee.  The prospectus should include a brief description of the rationale for the research, methods being used, analyses to be employed, and implications of the expected results.

3)      An acceptable thesis must be written based upon at least two terms of laboratory or field research that is carried out under the auspices of PSYC 91 and is under the supervision of a PBS department faculty member.  The thesis will entail an independent and individual project.  Furthermore, the thesis must be read by, orally defended to, and approved by the thesis committee.  The defense must be attended by at least one member of the Neuroscience Steering Committee.  The thesis committee will make a recommendation to the Neuroscience Steering Committee regarding the potential awarding of honors.

4)      Students will present their research to department faculty and interested others during the latter part of the Spring term of their senior year.

Finding funds and finding research advisors

The Office of Undergraduate Research provides information about how to find a research advisor and how to apply for funds to support your research.  Note that there are specific application deadlines for each term.

Honors Program Components

Quick Summary

Written Thesis

  • Due: Noon on the last day of classes of the spring term.
  • Format: Cover Page with places for signature, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, References
  • Two bound copies must be submitted to the PBS Admin Office.  These copies should already be signed by your advisor and second reader when they are turned in.
  • The department will reimburse you for two copies, if you want more you will have to pay for them either from your own funds or research funds you or your advisor have obtained. To be reimbursed, bring a receipt when you turn in your copies to the department.
  • Many students use Gnomon Copy on Main Street to produce their bound thesis.  Be warned they get very busy at the end of the term, do not wait until the last second.
  • Be aware that you may need to make corrections to your thesis after your oral defense, allow yourself enough time to do so.

Oral Defense

  • You will give a 15-20 minute overview of your research and then answer questions from committee members.  In total the defense usually lasts one and a half hours.
  • In attendance will be your thesis committee, comprised of your Primary Advisor, Secondary Reader, and a Neuroscience Committee Member. Other students are not permitted to attend.
  • You should submit your final drafted thesis to your committee at least one week prior to your oral defense.
  • Your oral defense must occur before the Poster Session.  It is advisable to bring a draft of your poster to your defense for feedback from your committee.
  • Once you have a date and time set with your committee, contact Michelle Powers to reserve a room.

Poster Session

  • Typically held on an afternoon during the week before the last week of classes of the spring term.
  • You will stand by your poster and should be able to summarize your project in 3-5 minutes.
  • Friends and family are welcome to attend.

Honors vs. High Honors

  • Recommendation of high honors is made by your thesis committee.
  • Must have a major GPA of 3.75 (excluding the two terms of PSYC 89 or 91).
  • No more than 50% of honors students will receive high honors.