Honors in the Major

Psychology Department Honors Policy

Revised and Approved, Fall 2017

Honors are granted to graduating seniors who demonstrate excellence in developing and conducting publishable-quality empirical research in psychology. Students wishing to stand for departmental honors typically begin during the junior year to develop plans in consultation with one or more faculty members. Their work must be endorsed for honors by the Committee on behalf of the department, be presented publicly no later than the week of final exams, and a final corrected version of the paper must be filed with the Dickinson College Library prior to Commencement.

Honors are granted to graduating seniors who fulfill these requirements:

  1. Normally, conversations regarding the pursuit of honors will be initiated during the student’s junior year. The student should identify a general research topic area and request a faculty member to Chair (i.e., serve as primary supervisor for) the Honors Committee. Students should then work with the Honors Committee Chair to outline their plan for pursuing honors.
  2. By the beginning of the senior year, the student must have completed at least 6 courses in Psychology (at Dickinson or elsewhere). The student must earn a GPA of at least 3.6 in all of the Psychology courses taken (including courses taken abroad), and 3.25 in all other courses taken at the College. By the end of the first week of classes, the student will enroll in a PSYC 500-level course with the faculty member who will chair the Honors Committee; the title of the PSYC 500-level course should describe the project and should not include the word "honors."
  3. By no later than one week following Roll Call during the student's first semester of the senior year, the student must finalize an Honors Committee composed of three psychology faculty. Additional faculty from within or outside the psychology department may also serve on the Committee. The student will provide the Committee with the general topic of research—the Committee will approve the topic, and will approve the student’s plan to earn one PSYC 500-level credit for each of the Fall and Spring semesters of the senior year.
  4. The student will submit a proposal to the Honors Committee at some point in the Fall semester; the proposal meeting should occur before the last week of Fall classes. Typically, the proposal will include the research questions, rationale for the study, proposed method, and a data analysis plan. Honors theses may be conducted with pre-existing/previously collected data. In approving the proposal, the student's Honors Committee is expressing the view that a successfully completed project will demonstrate the student's excellence in developing and conducting empirical research on the selected topic. If the Committee does not give approval, the student will complete a final paper in fulfillment of the requirements for the PSYC 500-level course (to be determined by the supervising faculty member).
  5. Before initiating the second semester of the honors project, the student will present a progress report to the Honors Committee and receive its approval to proceed. This approval will normally be granted before the end of the add/drop period in the Spring semester of the student’s senior year.
  6. By the end of the first week of classes in the Spring semester, the student will enroll in a PSYC 500-level course with the faculty member who is chairing the Honors Committee; the title of the PSYC 500-level course should describe the project and should not include the word "honors."
  7. Before initiating data analysis, the student will present to the Honors Committee a revised data analysis plan (if plans have changed since the proposal was submitted) and receive its approval to proceed.
  8. At least 14 days prior to the last day of classes, the student will provide the Honors Committee with the final research project report. In approving the paper, the student’s Honors Committee is expressing the view that the student may proceed to an oral presentation. However, it is likely that the Committee will require revisions to the paper prior to step 8. Students should be aware that the Committee’s approval at this stage does not imply the awarding of honors; this determination is made after the presentation (in step 10).
    If the paper is not approved, the student will not stand for honors but will have the opportunity to revise the research project report as the final paper for the PSYC 500-level course.
  9. In the last week of classes, copies of the final research paper should be made available to Psychology faculty. The student will send electronic copies to the departmental faculty at least one week before the scheduled date for the public presentation.
  10. During the week of final exams, the student will give an oral project presentation, including a question-and-answer period. The Psychology Department Chair schedules the presentation in consultation with the psychology faculty.
  11. The Honors Committee will vote on the written and oral presentation of the project and the Honors Committee Chair is responsible for communicating the outcome of the vote with the student. Upon a favorable vote, any departmental faculty member may suggest changes intended to strengthen the paper; these changes may be suggested during the oral presentation (in question-and-answer session), during the confidential deliberation period, or in writing on the paper itself. The chair of the Honors Committee is responsible for making note of all the suggested changes and (in consultation with other members of the Committee) will then determine which suggested changes are required. 
  12. Following the oral presentation, the honors student will incorporate the mandatory changes into the final paper, and the paper will be reviewed by the chair of the Honors Committee for final approval. The Honors Committee Chair will notify the Psychology Department Chair and the Registrar about the student’s successful completion of departmental honors by the Monday before Commencement.
  13. Once final approval of the paper has been obtained from the chair of the Honors Committee, the student will create an archival version of the paper, following these specifications:
    • The top, bottom, and right hand margins should be one inch, and the left margin should be one and one quarter inches.
    • The paper should be fully paginated, including any forwards, prefaces, appendices, and bibliographies. Page numbers should be centered approximately one half inch from the bottom of each page.
    • The title page of the paper should include the full title, author, date of submission, department for which the paper is being submitted, the name of the project supervisor, and the other members of the Committee.

The student who has been awarded honors will provide this electronic archival version of the paper to the Psychology Department Coordinator, Amy McMurdy (mcmurdya@dickinson.edu). An electronic copy will be retained in the department’s electronic files, and a printed version will be bound and catalogued to be housed in the Archives and Special Collections Department of the Dickinson College Library. The Psychology Department Coordinator will process the printing and binding, and will arrange for the final product to be sent to the Archives. The Department will pay for the printing and Archives will pay for the binding for the library’s copy. 

If the student wishes to have any additional copies of the paper bound for personal use, Amy must be notified when submitting the electronic archival version. Students will be responsible for the cost of printing and binding those copies.