Independent and Honors Research

Ayanna Thomas speaking with students at a table

Completing a year-long Senior Honors Thesis is one of the most rewarding, time-consuming and challenging endeavors a Psychology major can undertake. The process requires designing, executing, and analyzing the data from an original empirical research investigation, writing a comprehensive APA-format report, and presenting and defending this work before a committee of two faculty members (one of whom, the committee chair, must be from the Psychology Department). Because chairing a Senior Honors Thesis requires a great deal of time and effort on the part of faculty members, only a small number of seniors can complete a thesis in a given year. Students are therefore encouraged to contact potential thesis chairs no later than the end of their junior year, and preferably even earlier. Because of the high demand for thesis supervision, some faculty may only agree to supervise theses for students who have spent multiple previous semesters working in their lab.

Students interested in independent study (including Senior Honors Thesis) must find a supervising faculty member before registering for the course via SIS. Those registering for a Senior Honors Thesis (PSY 199) must also fill out and submit by early October the Thesis Honors Candidate form.

Undergraduate research assistants and students completing a senior honors thesis in all labs that are conducting human subjects research are required to take the Collaborative IRB Training Initiative (CITI). Please contact the faculty supervisor of the lab for more details.

Per Tufts policy, students must appear on the Dean's List for at least two semesters in order to be eligible to complete a thesis. As mentioned above, our faculty often have additional requirements for thesis students, including previous experience in their research lab (PSY 91/92 or PSY 191/192). For students already registered to complete a thesis, additional information regarding expectations for your project and the bases on which it will be evaluated are best obtained from your committee chair.

Students who complete an honors thesis receive a letter grade for their two semesters of work in PSY 199, as well as a determination of thesis honors. The letter grade is not assigned until the end of the second semester and is determined by the thesis chair; students are therefore encouraged to discuss their progress with their chair at various points during the year. This grade is intended to reflect a student's lab performance and consistency of effort over the course of seeing a research project through to completion. The thesis committee makes the determination of thesis honors, choosing from among the following designations: no honors, honors, high honors, and highest honors. This assessment is based on the final written product and oral defense, and is intended to reflect the quality, originality, independence, and potential impact of the work.

Review the departmental rubric for evaluating senior honors theses.