Major/Minor Requirements

The Major in Psychological & Brain Sciences

The field of psychology encompasses a large and diverse area of study that is empirical, theoretical and practical. As the science concerned with the study of behavior, psychology includes such areas as biological bases of behavior; brain-behavior interactions; learning; memory; cognition; motivation; emotion; sensation and perception; the study of social interactions, persuasion and attitudes; aging and development; personality; clinical, abnormal, and health psychology; and leisure and work experiences. Psychology is a multipurpose, valuable discipline in which to major. It has relevance for those considering careers in law, medicine, the health professions, education and business. In addition, it provides important skills and knowledge for those who may not be planning additional schooling.

Review the Undergraduate Guide for additional details

Required Courses

  • Psych 100B Introduction to Psychology is a prerequisite for all upper-level courses (numbered 300 and above). Exemption from Psych 100B is possible in the following circumstances:
    • Completion of an equivalent course transferred from another institution, if approved by the director of undergraduate studies.
    • An AP Psychology test score of 5 or IB score of 6 or 7. (N.B.: AP or IB earnsexemption from Psych 100B but no units of credit toward the major.)
  • Psych 300 Introduction to Psychological Statistics
    • Math 2200 or Math 3200 or both Marketing Statistics QBA 120 & QBA 121may substitute for Psych 300 but earn no units of credit toward the major. No advanced placement (AP) math course can substitute for Psych 300.
  • Psych 301 Experimental Psychology or Psych 3011 Experimental Psychology

Core Requirements

At least one course from each of the following five categories:

Social/Personality:

 
Code Title Units
Psych 315 Introduction to Social Psychology 3
Psych 353 Psychology of Personality 3

  Abnormal/Affective Psychology:

 
Code Title Units
Psych 3501 Psychotherapy: Introduction to Practice and Research 3
Psych 354 Abnormal Psychology 3
Psych 3645 Understanding Emotions 3

Biological/ Neurological Bases of Behavior:

 
Code Title Units
Psych 330 Sensation and Perception 3
Psych 3401 Biological Psychology 3
Psych 345 Genes, Environment, and Human Behavior 3
Psych 3604 Cognitive Neuroscience 3
Psych 374 Drugs, Brain and Behavior 3

 Behavior and Cognition:

 
Code Title Units
Psych 360 Cognitive Psychology 3
Psych 361 Psychology of Learning 3
Psych 380 Human Learning and Memory 3
Psych 433 Psychology of Language 3

Lifespan Development:

 
Code Title Units
Psych 321 Developmental Psychology 3
Psych 325 Psychology of Adolescence 3
Psych 326 Introduction to the Psychology of Aging 3
Psych 427 Social Gerontology 3

Elective Courses

An additional 9 units of course work

No more than 6 units from the following categories may be used to satisfy the minimum requirements for the psychological & brain sciences major:

  • 100-/200-level classes (other than Psych 100B)
  • Psych 333 Independent Study in Psychological and Brain Sciences
  • Psych 444C Independent Study for a Concentration in Psychological and Brain Sciences
  • Psych 498 Study for Honors and Psych 499 Study for Honors
  • University College-approved psychology classes
  • Cross-listed courses not home-based in Psychological & Brain Sciences
  • Transfer classes (students transferring from another college, please refer to the Transfer Credit section below)

Additional Information

Transfer Credit: If accepted by the College of Arts & Sciences, transfer credits will be evaluated by the director of undergraduate studies in the psychological & brain sciences department for their applicability toward the major.

Senior Honors: The primary goal of the Honors Program in psychological & brain sciences is to provide students who have achieved a superior academic record the opportunity to conduct a comprehensive empirical investigation under the direction of a faculty member.

To be admitted into the honors program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Overall and psychological & brain sciences GPAs ≥ 3.65
  • Completion of both Psych 300 and Psych 301 (or Psych 3011)
  • An approved honors research adviser

The Major in Cognitive Neuroscience

How does the brain think? Cognitive neuroscience refers to the scientific study of the linkage between mental functions and the operation of the brain and nervous system. The goal of cognitive neuroscience is to provide an understanding of psychological processes, such as attention, memory, thinking and emotion, in terms of physical principles and biological components. At the same time, it aims to provide an understanding of the psychological constraints on how the brain functions, computes, and generates behavior. Students who pursue the undergraduate major in psychological & brain sciences: cognitive neuroscience will gain a strong foundation in how to study the brain and mind at various levels of analysis, including cellular biology, brain systems, cognitive and affective function, and neural computation. In addition, they will gain an appreciation of the relation between healthy cognitive and brain function and its breakdown in various disease states and disorders. A cognitive neuroscience degree provides excellent preparation for a career in health and medical professions, scientific research, computer fields, education and the law.

Total units required: 37 units/12 courses (plus prerequisites).

Prerequisites Outside of Psychological & Brain Sciences

 
Code Title Units
Math 132 Calculus II 3
Biol 2960 Principles of Biology I 4

Note: Each of these prerequisites has its own prerequisites — Math 132 requires Math 131, and Biol 2960 requires Chem 111A and Chem 112A (concurrently).

Note: These are Biology and Pre-Med prerequisites as well and are typically completed in a student's first year. They might alternatively be satisfied through AP or any other already-approved mechanism from the respective department or the college.

Core Requirements

Psych 100B Introduction to Psychology 3
Psych 300 Introduction to Psychological Statistics 3
Psych 301 Experimental Psychology 4
or Psych 3011 Experimental Psychology
Psych 3401 Biological Psychology 3
or Psych 344 Principles of the Nervous System
Psych 360 Cognitive Psychology 3
Psych 3604 Cognitive Neuroscience 3
Total Units 19

Note: The first three requirements (i.e., Psych 100B, 300, and 301/3011) are the same as those for the regular psychological & brain sciences major.

Note: L33 Psych 344 is home-based in Biology; students should register under the cross-listed Psych L33 course designation, not L41 Biol 3411.

Exemption from Psych 100B is possible in the following circumstances:

  • Completion of an equivalent course transferred from another institution, if approved by the director of undergraduate studies.
  • An AP Psychology test score of 5 or IB score of 6 or 7. (N.B.: AP or IB earns exemption from Psych 100B but no units of credit toward the major.)

Math 2200 or Math 3200 or both Marketing Statistics QBA 120 & QBA 121 may substitute for Psych 300 but earn no units of credit toward the major. No advanced placement (AP) math course can substitute for Psych 300.

Additional Biological & Cognitive Distributions

Choose one each from A & B:

Group A eligible courses:

Course List
Code Title Units
Psych 330 Sensation and Perception 3
Psych 361 Psychology of Learning 3
Psych 380 Human Learning and Memory 3

Group B eligible courses:

Course List
Code Title Units
Biol 3058 Physiological Control Systems 2
Biol 3151 Endocrinology 3
Biol 328 Principles in Human Physiology 4
Biol 3421 Introduction to Neuroethology 3
Physics 350 Physics of the Brain 3
Psych 345 Genes, Environment, and Human Behavior 3
Psych 374 Drugs, Brain and Behavior 3

Computation Requirement (1 course):

Course List
Code Title Units
CSE 131 Introduction to Computer Science 3
Psych 4175 Applied Statistical Analysis with R 3
Psych 5007 Statistics and Data Analysis in MATLAB 2

Or, with prior approval, another course involving a significant computational/programming component.

Capstone/Depth Requirements

Choose one each from A, B, & C:

(Note: None of these can be used to also fulfill any of the other requirements — i.e., no double counting.)

Group A eligible courses:

Course List
Code Title Units
Psych 4046 Developmental Neuropsychology 3
Psych 4182 Perception, Thought and Action 3
Psych 4413 Advanced Cognitive Neuroscience (Writing Intensive) 3
Psych 4450 Functional Neuroimaging Methods 3
Psych 4746 Biological Pathways to Psychopathology: From Genes and the Environment to Brain and Behavior 3
Psych 4765 Inside the Disordered Brain: Biological Bases of the Major Mental Disorders 3
Psych 488 The Cognitive Neuroscience of Film 3

or an appropriate 400-level course from outside the department (with prior approval), for example:

Course List
Code Title Units
Biol 4030 Biological Clocks 3
Biol 404 Laboratory of Neurophysiology 4
Biol 4580 Principles of Human Anatomy and Development 3
L30 Phil 4212 Philosophy of Neuroscience 3

Group B eligible courses in capstone research/writing intensive experience:

Course List
Code Title Units
Psych 4046 Developmental Neuropsychology 3
Psych 4413 Advanced Cognitive Neuroscience (Writing Intensive) 3
Psych 444B Independent Study for the Major in P&BS: Cognitive Neuroscience 3
Psych 498 Study for Honors 3

Group C eligible courses: An additional 3 units from group A or group B or, by prior approval: MBB 300Psych 333 (N.B.: All 3 units must be completed in one semester, in one lab, to be considered for approval), or Psych 498/Psych 499.

Acceptance Requirements

Acceptance to the major is contingent on an application and then approval by the major committee. As part of this application, the student will meet with an appropriate adviser who will carefully review the requirements and oversee the student's progress. A brief one-page statement from the student on why they feel that the cognitive neuroscience major is appropriate for them will be requested as part of the application.

Washington University students will be considered for admission to the cognitive neuroscience major no sooner than in their third semester (sophomore year). Decisions are based upon the student's statement, academic record, and interview with the major adviser.

Rationale on requirements for the major

Prerequisites:  Math 132 (Calc II) indicates the level of mathematical competence that is needed for this major, and is on-par with all other natural science majors at WUSTL.   Bio 2960 (Bio I) indicates a requirement for fluency in basic cellular biology, and is required for most 300-level Bio classes. 

Core Requirements (6 courses):  The first 3 courses reflect the requirement for basic knowledge and methodological competencies in psychology required of all majors in the Psychological and Brain Sciences department (Intro, Stats, Experimental).  The additional 3 courses ensure a strong foundation in Cognitive Psychology, Biological Psychology/Neuroscience, and Cognitive Neuroscience. 

Distribution Requirements (2 courses).  This distribution ensures a good background in both Cognitive and Biological sub-areas. 

Computation Requirement (1 course).   This requirement ensures basic fluency in computational and programming skills that are essential to the major. Can be completed at any time during the major (although earlier rather than later would be preferred).  The requirement allows for flexibility in that students may opt out of CSE 131 (Intro to Computer Science) if an appropriate Psychology departmental alternative offering (R, MATLAB) is available, or if the student wants to petition to satisfy the requirement in a non-standard way.

Depth/Capstone Requirement (3 courses).  Similar to the goals of the Concentration within the general Psychological & Brain Sciences major, this requirement ensures that students are exposed to 400-level courses and participate in a research or writing-intensive experience within Cognitive Neuroscience.

Is the Cognitive Science Major right for you?

  • Do you want a broad foundation in Psychological & Brain Sciences that allows you to explore its many sub-areas and sub-fields?
    • If YES:  then the general major in Psychological & Brain Sciences is recommended (see above for details)
       
  • Do you want to also gain a bit more specialization in Cognitive Neuroscience?
    • If YES:  then the Cognitive Neuroscience concentration (within the general major) is recommended (see above for details)
       
  • Do you want a strong foundation in Biology, along with specialization in Neuroscience?
  • Do you want a strong foundation in Philosophy, along with specialization in Psychology and Neuroscience?
    • If YES:  then the PNP major is recommended
       
  • Do you want a deep and specialized foundation in Cognition and Neuroscience, along with a strong general science and psychology background?
    • If YES:  then the Cognitive Neuroscience major in Psychological & Brain Sciences is recommended

The Minor in Psychological & Brain Sciences

Minor Requirements

Units required: 15

Required course: Psych 100B Introduction to Psychology

Elective courses:

Four additional courses (i.e., a minimum of 12 units of additional course work) in Psychological & Brain Sciences, all of which must be at the 300 level or above.

Additional Information

Students may receive exemption from the Psych 100B requirement only if an AP Psych score of 5, or IB score of 6 or 7 is received. For exemption, no credit will be given; therefore, five applicable courses must be completed. No more than 3 units of an approved cross-listed course originating outside the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, an approved psychology course taken in University College, an approved psychology course taken at another university, or an independent study-type course (e.g., Psych 333) may count toward the minor. (Transfer students must complete at least 9 advanced units of home-based Psychological & Brain Sciences courses at Washington University.)

For those who have a broad or general interest in psychological and brain sciences, we recommend taking several courses from the five core areas (i.e., Social/Personality; Abnormal/Affective Psychology; Biological/Neurological Bases of Behavior; Behavior and Cognition; and Lifespan Development).

For those students who want to concentrate in a more specialized area, courses can reflect such specialization. For example, a student interested in the helping professions or counseling may wish to select from such courses as Psych 353Psychology of Personality, Psych 354 Abnormal Psychology, Psych 361 Psychology of Learning, and Psych 321 Developmental Psychology. A student wishing to pursue a specialization in experimental psychology/neuroscientific bases of behavior might select from such classes as Psych 3401 Biological Psychology, Psych 361 Psychology of Learning, Psych 330 Sensation and Perception, Psych 360Cognitive Psychology, and Psych 3604 Cognitive Neuroscience, and consider doing Independent Study (Psych 333).

Concentrations in Psychological & Brain Sciences

To augment the broadly based psychological & brain sciences major, the department offers concentrations for students who wish to engage more intensively with a specific area within the discipline. The concentrations are meant as an enrichment of the major, but the units for the concentrations may be part of the regular P&BS major requirements.

A concentration requires a minimum of 12 units, which include required and elective courses, one of which must be at the 400 level. In addition, to complete a concentration, students will have to undertake an approved research assistantship (Psych 444C Independent Study for a Concentration in Psychological and Brain Sciences), or an approved internship, practicum, or honors thesis.

A concentration will be a valuable experience for students planning on graduate study in psychology or related fields, or for those who have a particular interest or want to gain expertise in one of the approved concentrations. Each concentration will have a member of the faculty as the contact person to meet with and advise students in the concentration.

Courses taken for a concentration may be used to fulfill no more than one of the Core categories or distribution requirements of a psychological & brain sciences major. None of the units for a concentration can be counted for any other major or minor (i.e., there is no double counting). For those doing the psychological & brain sciences: cognitive neuroscience major, the cognitive neuroscience concentration is not an option.

Guide to Concentrations

Cognition in Children

Cognition in Children  This concentration allows students to acquire deeper knowledge of cognition and its development in the first few years of life. The courses for the concentration consider child development more generally and then explore in more depth the early development of cognitive, conceptual and social-cognitive abilities. Adviser/coordinator: Professor Lori Markson.

Course work required: Psych 321 Developmental Psychology

Electives (must include two classes, at least one of which is at the 400 level):   

Course List
Code Title Units
Psych 219 The Infant Mind 3
Psych 358 Language Acquisition 3
Psych 4046 Developmental Neuropsychology 3
Psych 4591 The Development of Social Cognition 3

Research mentorship: Prior approved research mentorship with a relevant faculty member and successful completion of a research paper. Relevant faculty: Pascal Boyer, Lori Markson, Rebecca Treiman, Desirée White.

Cognitive Neuroscience

This concentration allows students to acquire deeper knowledge of the relation between mind and brain. The courses for the concentration consider the neurobiological basis for psychological functions at a more general level, and then explore in greater depth specialized topics relating to how higher cognitive processes, such as memory, attention, perception and emotion, emerge from brain function. Adviser/coordinator: Professor Todd Braver.

Course work required: 

Course List
Code Title Units
Psych 3401 Biological Psychology 3
or Psych 344 Principles of the Nervous System

Electives (must include two classes, at least one of which is at the 400 level):

Course List
Code Title Units
Psych 3604 Cognitive Neuroscience 3
Psych 374 Drugs, Brain and Behavior 3
Psych 4046 Developmental Neuropsychology 3
Psych 4413 Advanced Cognitive Neuroscience (Writing Intensive) 3
Psych 4450 Functional Neuroimaging Methods 3
Psych 4746 Biological Pathways to Psychopathology: From Genes and the Environment to Brain and Behavior 3
Psych 4765 Inside the Disordered Brain: Biological Bases of the Major Mental Disorders 3
Psych 488 The Cognitive Neuroscience of Film 3

Research mentorship: Prior approved research mentorship with a relevant faculty member and successful completion of a research paper. Relevant faculty: Deanna Barch, Todd Braver, Ryan Bogdan, Ian Dobbins, Denise Head, Kathleen McDermott, Desirée White, Jeff Zacks.

Reading, Language, and Language Acquisition

This concentration provides students with a deep and broad knowledge of linguistic development. The courses look in-depth at the development of written and spoken language. Adviser/coordinator: Professor Rebecca Treiman.

Course work required: Ling 170D Introduction to Linguistics

Electives (must include two classes, at least one of which is at the 400 level):

Course List
Code Title Units
Psych 234 Introduction to Speech and Hearing Sciences and Disorders 3
Psych 358 Language Acquisition 3
or Psych 358W Language Acquisition
Psych 433 Psychology of Language 3
Psych 4351 Reading and Reading Development 3
or Psych 4352 Reading and Reading Development WI

Research mentorship: Prior approved research mentorship with a relevant faculty member and successful completion of a research paper. Relevant faculty: Rebecca Treiman, David Balota, Lori Markson, Mitchell Sommers.

Lifespan Development

Many introductory courses in developmental psychology focus on changes that occur from birth to adolescence. The supplemental concentration in lifespan development provides students with an understanding of the cognitive and physiological changes that occur over the lifespan, with a primary focus on older adulthood. A major goal of the concentration is to provide students with an understanding of the similarities and differences in development at different stages of the lifespan. Adviser/coordinator: Professor Mitchell Sommers.

Course work required:

Course List
Code Title Units
Psych 326
Psych 427
Introduction to the Psychology of Aging
and Social Gerontology
6

Electives (must include one of the following courses):

Course List
Code Title Units
Psych 321 Developmental Psychology 3
Psych 4301 Contemporary Topics in Cognitive Development 3

Research mentorship or internship experience: Students can complete this aspect of the concentration with either a prior approved research mentorship or an approved internship related to older adultsSuccessful completion of a paper is required in either case. Relevant faculty for research mentorship: Mitchell Sommers, David Balota, Brian Carpenter, Sandra Hale, Denise Head, Lori Markson. Possible internships: Work in an assisted-living facility or other community-based program designed to assist older adults. Other internships are available; contact Dr. Brian Carpenter for opportunities.

Experimental Psychopathology

This concentration allows students to acquire more advanced knowledge of the ways in which psychologists study mental disorders. Current research has demonstrated the importance of integrating psychological and biological variables in understanding the classification, etiology and treatment of a wide variety of mental disorders, including schizophrenia, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders and eating disorders. Students who pursue this concentration will develop a broadly-based appreciation for conceptual and methodological issues that are central to research in psychopathology. Adviser/coordinator: Professor Deanna Barch.

Course work required: Psych 354 Abnormal Psychology

Electives (must include two classes, at least one of which is at the 400 level):

Course List
Code Title Units
Psych 345 Genes, Environment, and Human Behavior 3
Psych 374 Drugs, Brain and Behavior 3
Psych 4541 Personality and Psychopathology 3
Psych 4557 Biopsychosocial Aspects of Eating Disorders and Obesity 3
Psych 4746 Biological Pathways to Psychopathology: From Genes and the Environment to Brain and Behavior 3
Psych 4765 Inside the Disordered Brain: Biological Bases of the Major Mental Disorders 3

Research mentorship: Prior approved research mentorship with a relevant faculty member and successful completion of a research paper. Relevant faculty: Deanna Barch, Ryan Bogdan, Josh Jackson, Tom Oltmanns, Tom Rodebaugh, Renee Thompson, Denise Wilfley.

Personality and Individual Differences

This concentration allows students to acquire deeper knowledge of how and why individuals differ from one another and the ways in which individual (e.g., personality, self) and group differences (e.g., gender) influence behavior, emotion, experience, identity and psychopathology. The core course for the concentration (Psych 353) considers personality more generally. The seminars explore in depth specific aspects of personality and individual differences, including biological bases of individual differences (i.e., genetics), the interpersonal processes associated with personality and personality judgment, individual differences in self and identity, group differences and personality pathology. Adviser/coordinator: Professor Tammy English.

Course work required: Psych 353 Psychology of Personality

Electives (must include two classes, at least one of which is at the 400 level):

Course List
Code Title Units
Psych 345 Genes, Environment, and Human Behavior 3
Psych 3645 Understanding Emotions 3
Psych 367 Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness 3
Psych 413 Contemporary Topics in Social Psychology 3
Psych 4541 Personality and Psychopathology 3
Psych 4555 Emotion Regulation 3

Research mentorship: Prior approved research mentorship with a relevant faculty member and successful completion of a research paper. Relevant faculty: Tammy English, Josh Jackson, Randy Larsen, Tom Oltmanns, Michael Strube, Renee Thompson, Heike Winterheld.

Honors

The Honors Program in the department of Psychological & Brain Sciences (P&BS) is a two-semester program undertaken during the student’s senior year. The primary goal of the Honors Program in P&BS is to provide students with an opportunity to conduct and complete a comprehensive empirical investigation under the direction of a faculty member, who serves as the student's Honors advisor. It is important to note that the Honors Program is not restricted to students who plan to pursue graduate study in Psychology. In fact, a majority of students in the Honors Program do not plan to continue their studies in Psychology.

The Honors Program serves as a capstone experience to a student's career as a P&BS major at Washington University. It is expected that the student will participate in all aspects of the planned investigation, including developing the research question, designing the appropriate methodology, collecting and analyzing data, and completing the written thesis. To graduate with Latin Honors, the student must successfully complete the Honors Program and have the required minimum GPA.

Requirements

To be accepted into the Honors Program, the student must have both an overall GPA and a Psychology GPA of 3.65 or higher. The program requires that Experimental Psychology (Psych 301/3011) be completed prior to entering the Honors Program. The student also must have obtained an Honors advisor, a faculty member who agrees to serve as the research mentor for the Honors project. (The Honors advisor generally is not the student’s major academic advisor.) Registration for Honors requires that the prospective Honors student meet with the Coordinator of the Honors Program (Dr. Mitchell Sommers) to discuss the proposed project.

The principal requirement for successfully completing the Honors Program is writing the Honors Thesis. The thesis must relate to an empirical study that was conducted specifically for completing the Honors project. Literature reviews or other projects that would not be considered empirical research cannot be used for completing the Honors thesis in P&BS. A project started as part of either independent study or experimental psychology may be used for the Honors thesis, but it must present new or extended aspects of the original project. The thesis must provide a comprehensive report of the Honors project including a critical review of the literature, a description of methods and results, and a discussion of the importance of the findings.

In addition, students are required to present the findings from their investigation at the P&BS Honors Poster Session and at the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium (in the spring). Students must also complete both semesters of the Honors seminar, Study for Honors (Psych 498 and 499). As part of the seminar requirement, students will be asked to turn in a completed draft of the Introduction and Method sections of their thesis by the end of the first semester of Honors.

General Timetable for Honors Projects

Junior Year

By the end of their junior year, students who want to participate in the Honors Program should have an advisor who has agreed to supervise their Honors project. Students should meet with their Honors advisor to identify potential research questions and to obtain necessary background reading. The goal of these initial meetings is to identify the general research question that will serve as the basis for the student's Honors thesis. Please note that a faculty member will likely supervise only one, or at most two, theses. Therefore, the student needs to contact a potential Honors advisor as early as possible.

Special note: If you are planning to study abroad during the second semester of your junior year, it is critical that you contact potential advisors and develop research ideas before going abroad. If you wait until you return from study abroad, it is most likely that you will be unable to find an advisor for your Honors thesis and/or complete the thesis on time.

Reminder: Students must meet with Dr. Sommers before the first Honors class to discuss their projects.

Summer between Junior and Senior Years

It certainly is advisable to maintain contact with your Honors advisor during the summer to continue preparations for your investigation. In fact, for a number of research projects it may be necessary to collect pilot data and/or to begin your Honors research during the summer. This also is the time for you to be reading intensively the research literature related to your project. At the very least, in addition to the reading, you need to determine how you will conduct the research (i.e., the procedures).

Special note: Before any research can commence, you must have completed the necessary forms and received approval from the relevant Human Subjects Review Committee or Animal Studies Committee. Be sure to check with your advisor about completing these forms. This is particularly important for students planning on working with non-traditional populations (e.g., children or clinical populations) because human subjects approval in these cases can take 3-4 months.

September-October

At the beginning of their senior year, students should meet regularly with their advisor to finalize details of the investigation. The goal should be to have everything in place (including approval from the Human Subjects Review Committee or Animal Studies Committee) so that data collection, if it has not already started, can begin no later than the beginning of October.

November-December

Students should have most of their data collected by the end of the first semester. In addition, students will need to complete a draft of their Introduction and Method sections.

January-February

Students should aim to have data collection and analysis completed by the middle of February. Students should attempt to have a complete draft of their thesis to their advisor NO LATER THAN THE END OF FEBRUARY.

March

Recommendations for Honors are generally due in the Dean's office by the third week of March. As noted, students should submit a completed draft of their thesis to their advisors by the end of February. Once your advisor provides feedback on this initial draft, you should revise your thesis at least once (but typically more than once) based on the comments you receive. The version that you hand in to your advisor in March will be part of the final Honors recommendations. Therefore, the thesis should be in “as close to final form" as possible by the time the Honors recommendation is due.

April

During April, you should continue to fine-tune your thesis. Your advisor will provide feedback on the drafts that you submit, and you should revise your thesis accordingly. You must turn in a final version of your thesis to your advisor as well as to the Honors Coordinator by the last day of classes for the spring semester.

Special note: Students are also required to present their research at the P&BS Honors Poster Session and at the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium. You will receive instruction on how to design and print a poster. The P&BS Honors Poster Session is usually held on the first or second day of the reading period and the Arts and Sciences symposium is generally held the weekend before that. You should begin working on your poster no later than the second week of April, as you will need to revise it several times based on comments from your advisor

Registering for Honors

Study for Honors is a two-semester program (see Requirements). In the first semester, you will be enrolled for Psych 498; the second semester you will be enrolled for Psych 499. Before registering for Honors, however, you must submit a Petition for Permission to Enroll form to the Coordinator of the P&BS Honors Program, Dr. Mitchell Sommers. (Forms are available from the office of the Undergraduate Coordinator, room 207B.) The form must be signed both by you and by your Honors advisor, and must be filed each semester. Only after handing in the signed Petition form to, and obtaining approval from Dr. Sommers, can you then be registered for Honors (Psych 498/499).

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I consider conducting an Honors project?

The primary reason for conducting an Honors project is to learn more about an area that is of interest to you. The Honors project will provide an opportunity for you to obtain in-depth knowledge about a particular area. It will also provide you with a strong background in evaluating research -- a skill that is important for almost any career. Finally, the Honors project will allow you to work one-on-one with a faculty member who is an expert in your area of interest. You should NOT conduct an Honors project simply because you think it will improve your chances of getting into graduate school or will "look good" on your transcript.

When should I start thinking about conducting an Honors project?

There are several reasons why students should begin thinking about whether they might want to conduct an Honors project during their sophomore year. First, if you are planning to go abroad for a semester of your junior year, you will need to have completed Experimental Psychology (Psych 301/3011). This means that you likely will need to complete statistics (Psych 300) in your sophomore year. Because space in Experimental Psychology is limited, it is advisable to take statistics no later than your second semester sophomore year and Experimental in the junior year. If you are going abroad for the full year, then Experimental Psychology will need to be completed in your sophomore year. Second, if you are considering an Honors project, it is highly advisable to gain research experience through independent study in Psychology (Psych 333). Approximately half of the Honors projects in any given year are follow-up investigations to projects that were started as part of independent study in P&BS. Psych 333 provides an opportunity for you to identify potential research areas that may be of interest to you as well as to identify potential Honors advisors. The P&BS Department holds an informational session for those interested in Honors sometime near the middle of the spring semester. It is recommended that you attend this session as early as possible in your career – even if you are only considering the possibility of doing an Honors project.

How should I find an advisor/research project?

There are a number of ways to identify potential advisors for your Honors project. As noted, one way is to conduct a follow-up study on a project on which you participated as part of an independent study in Psychology. Another way to identify potential advisors is to look at our brochure, Listing of Psychological Research Opportunities, in which faculty and their research interests are noted. (You may pick up a copy of this brochure from Shelley Kohlman, room 207B) Students are often hesitant about contacting faculty to serve as Honors advisors. However, if you contact potential advisors early enough, most will welcome the opportunity to discuss potential projects with you.

How are final recommendations for Honors determined?

Upon certification by the department that the Honors Program has been satisfactorily completed, the student may be awarded the A.B. cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude according to the following proportions: the top 15 percent in overall grade point average of all Latin honors candidates in the college of Arts and Sciences who complete the necessary requirements of their major departments will graduate summa cum laude; the next 35 percent magna cum laude; the next 50 percent cum laude.

Special note: To graduate with Latin Honors from the College (i.e., summa cum laude, magna cum laude, or cum laude) you must successfully complete the Honors Program (that is, have the required minimum GPA, complete an approved honors thesis, complete both Psych 498 and 499, present at the poster sessions – see Requirements).

What kind of course load should I take in addition to the Honors project?

Conducting an outstanding Honors project is extremely time demanding. As a consequence, depending on your constraints and interests, it is advisable that you not enroll in more than 12 units of classes in addition to the Honors course. You should also NOT register for any other research class (e.g., Psych 333) while you are enrolled in Honors.

What do we do in the Honors seminar?

The Honors seminar is designed to provide exposure to a wide range of research projects and to help in the design and implementation of your project. Psych 498 and 499 meet once a week for two hours. Each student is required to give a 30-45 minute presentation about his or her research project. Because most projects will be in the initial stages during the first semester (Psych 498) of Honors (i.e., most will not have any data collected), the talks will center on the background and design of the research project. One of the main goals of the presentations is to get feedback from the class regarding your project. Often, other people in the Honors Honors Program - 7 Program provide suggestions that significantly improve the design or other aspects of the project.

Whom should I contact if I have other questions about the Honors Program?

Professor Sommers is the coordinator for the Honors Program. If you have questions, you can contact him at 935-6561, or by e-mail (msommers@wustl.edu).