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Senior Thesis

Students may choose to write a thesis during the senior year. In most cases, the thesis will involve original, empirical research, although theoretical papers will also be permitted. Students must obtain the consent of a faculty member to serve as their thesis advisor.

Junior Year

Those who are interested in writing a thesis are encouraged to participate in an Independent Study with a prospective thesis advisor during the junior year to develop a thesis proposal. Students who plan to write a thesis are advised to complete Introduction to Behavioral Statistics and Research I and II (PSYC1120 and PSYC1121) before their senior year.


The University requires a written, signed syllabus/contract between the instructor and student for all non-scheduled undergraduate courses, such as Independent Study, Senior Thesis, Senior Honors Thesis, and Scholars Project Research. Click here for a generic version of the contract (which instructors are free to modify): Syllabus/Contract for Individually Arranged and Non-scheduled Courses.

The form should be completed and signed by both instructor and student, and then the student should bring it to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for approval. The Psychology Office will keep these signed contracts on file.

Because such courses require the instructor’s permission, students must register for these courses in the Psychology Office. The signed syllabus/contract serves as permission of the instructor for the purpose of registering the student.

During registration for the fall, submit a syllabus/contract form for PSYC4490 Senior Thesis I and PSYC4491 Senior Thesis II. If your form covers both semesters of the thesis course, you will not need to submit a second contract during registration for the spring.

Senior Year

Seniors who are engaged in writing a thesis may enroll in PSYC4490 Senior Thesis I in the fall and/or PSYC4491 Senior Thesis II in the spring. Only one semester may count as an elective to fulfill your psychology major requirement.


Students whose theses are judged to be of exceptional merit will receive a letter that their Senior Thesis “approved with distinction.” This is recorded in the Psychology Department but not noted on transcripts. Download the Senior Thesis Approval Form for a thesis approved with distinction. The form is due to the Director of the Undergraduate Program by May 1.