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Curricular Options

Each of the following represents an academic opportunity that may be chosen to accompany a major in psychology. Click on a selection for more information.


Independent Study

Through independent study, the psychology program provides motivated and capable students the opportunity to conduct their own advanced work with the guidance of a faculty member. A 3.0 GPA in psychology is required. If more than one independent study is undertaken, or if an internship also is completed, a 3.5 GPA in psychology is required. Independent Study is strongly recommended for students who plan to apply for graduate study in psychology.

An independent study is...

  1. initiated by and the responsibility of the student.
  2. an in-depth exploration of a topic not covered in courses, an extension of a topic covered in a course taken previously, or a student initiated research project.
  3. time-consuming (i.e., 3 credits = 100 hours of work).
  4. conducted for reasons of intellectual advancement and curiosity.

An independent study is not...

  1. the responsibility of the faculty member.
  2. an easy 3 credits.
  3. done for the sake of scheduling convenience or for any reason other than the interest and ambition of the student.

Procedure for Implementing an Independent Study:

  1. Prior to the semester in which the independent study is to be conducted, the student should develop a topic, seek out a faculty member with pertinent expertise to serve as an advisor, and obtain the provisional approval from this person. Those steps should be completed before the preregistration period.
  2. The student subsequently should engage in preliminary research on the topic(i.e., library research) which leads to a specific definition of the Independent Study proposal.
  3. At the beginning of the semester in which the Independent Study project is conducted, the student should complete the Independent Study Proposal Form. This proposal includes:
    1. A statement of the topic area
    2. The issues to be investigated, and the means of the investigation
    3. The objectives of the independent study
    4. The nature of the independent study product (in most cases, a paper will be required.)
    5. A bibliography (preferably annotated)
    6. Means for faculty evaluation of the Independent Study.
  4. Request a meeting with the faculty advisor to discuss the proposal. Any modifications or clarifications resulting from this meeting should be incorporated in a revised Independent Study Proposal Form. Eventually, the student should obtain final approval from his/her faculty advisor. If this is to be an honors thesis, the following are also required.
  5. A meeting consisting of the student, faculty advisor, and the Psychology Independent Study Committee should then be scheduled. At this meeting the proposal will be evaluated in terms of the following criteria:
    1. The extent to which the proposal justifies honor status
    2. Student's ability and motivation to complete the proposal
    3. The proposal's educational value for the student.
  6. A public presentation of the results of your independent study upon its completion

Note: Steps 3, 4 and 5 are to be completed within the first three weeks of the semester.

Honors Program

Advanced, ambitious, and capable students may choose to participate in the Psychology Honors Program.


  1. A psychology grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 and an overall GPA of 3.0.
  2. Completion of an Honors Independent Study research project in the junior year or first semester of the senior year.
  3. Presentation of the Independent Study work in a departmental colloquium or at a psychology conference.
  4. Taking both Psy 442 (History of Psychology) and Psy 444 (Senior Seminar).

The Independent Study project should be of a caliber commensurate with honors status. That is, the work should be an original contribution to the literature, ideally an empirical investigation, and potentially publishable (see Independent Studies description for procedural details). The study should be near completion by the end of the Fall semester in the student's senior year and the student should enroll in Senior Seminar and in the History of Psychology in the following Spring semester. The departmental colloquium typically takes place during this semester. Qualified students who intend to pursue graduate work in psychology are strongly encouraged to participate in this program. Evidence of advanced undergraduate research is viewed very positively by graduate school admissions committees.

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