Psychology Honors

PSYC 89

Honors Psychology Research

This course is designed to enable especially qualified students, usually seniors, to engage in independent laboratory or field research under the direction of a faculty member.  Two terms of this course are required of those who seek to graduate with Honors in Psychology.  No more than two terms of 88, 89, or a combination of 88s and 89s may count toward the eight required courses for the major. Beginning in 2017-18, this course may be used to fulfill the upper-level (60 or above) major requirement.  Students must declare their intent to pursue Honors Research before the end of the second week of the Fall term of their Senior year.

Enrolling in Honors Research

Students who meet the criteria outlined in the ORC for Honors should first identify a faculty member who will supervise their thesis research and discuss the planned work with that faculty member.  After this consultation, the Honors Research Permission Checklist will guide students through the application process, and the completed checklist will serve as their permission request to register for PSYC 89.  The application process includes forming a Thesis Committee (see Evaluation of Honors, below).

  • PSYC 1, 10 and 11 are prerequisites. A 60 level course is also strongly recommended. Students should check well in advance with their faculty advisor for additional prerequisites.
  • Students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.30 in the major and 3.0 overall to enroll.  Major GPA is calculated by averaging all of the currently-completed courses, numbered 10-87, that are a part of the major.
  • The permission checklist must be signed by the advisor, and then turned in to the PBS main office for approval by the Chair of the Undergraduate Committee (Professor Catherine Cramer for 2019-20).
  • For potential sources of funds for independent research visit the PBS Research Opportunities page and the Dartmouth Undergraduate Advising and Research site.

Evaluation of Honors

Honors theses will be evaluated by a two-person Thesis Committee approved by the Undergraduate Committee. Thesis Committee members must be identified prior to the student registering for PSYC 89. The Thesis Committee must include a regular member of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences faculty. The other individual, if not a regular member of PBS, must have an active academic appointment (e.g., Research Associate, Research Assistant Professor, Medical School Faculty, Faculty in other departments of the College, etc.). Either Committee member may serve as the primary advisor. The two members of the Thesis Committee may not be in the same laboratory.  In addition, all Honors students will present their work in a departmental symposium at the conclusion of the Spring term.

The Thesis Committee will read and evaluate the thesis and oral presentation, and make recommendations to the Undergraduate Committee regarding the awarding of Honors or High Honors.  The Undergraduate Committee considers both this recommendation and grades in the major in making a recommendation to the department faculty.  The Thesis Committee will also recommend in writing meritorious students to the Undergraduate Committee for consideration for the various departmental prizes, which are voted on by faculty who attend the Honors presentations and/or the year-end faculty meeting. 

Grades for PSYC 89 are assigned by the primary advisor.  It is common for faculty advisors to find it difficult to evaluate the thesis work until it is complete, and thus it is typical to assign a grade of ON (On-going) for the initial term of PSYC 89.  The "ON" grades must be changed to regular letter grades by the end of the Spring term, when the thesis is completed.