Psychology Honours Program

What is an Honours degree?

An Honours degree in Psychology may be obtained with either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree.  An Honours degree involves completing an Honours thesis, which is a paper written in the format specified by the Canadian Psychological Association.  Most theses report on a supervised independent research project (quantitative and/or qualitative), but other alternatives include: (a) a review paper that includes an original historical and theoretical overview of the topic, or (b) a critique of the theory, research, or practice of psychology.

Because of the extra course requirements and the extra time involved in the process of producing an Honours thesis, early planning is important. Although the Honours program is not just for students thinking of graduate school, an Honours degree is needed for admission into graduate programs in Psychology and many non-psychology as well. An Honours thesis is completed in either the fourth year (along with a few remaining courses) or in a fifth year after graduation.

Honours program requirements

Students must be a Psychology major, and will have met (or will be meeting in the upcoming academic year) all of the requirements for either a BA or BSc in Psychology. Students must include a copy of their official academic transcript with both the Pre-Honours Pool application and the Honours Research application (an unofficial transcript or degree audit will not be accepted.) Your overall academic average must be 70% or above, and your overall Psychology average must be 75% or above. You need to maintain averages above these minimal criteria to remain in the programme.

If accepted into the Honours program, all students must complete PSYC 4800 (Honours Literature Review), PSYC4810 (Origins and Contexts of Psychological Thought and Practice), and PSYC 4900 (Honours Research). PSYC 4810 is offered in the Fall semester only. Your supervisor will outline the specific requirements for PSYC 4800 and 4900 as they pertain to your thesis.

Applying to the Psychology Honours program

Application to the Psychology Honours program is a two-step process. First, students submit a “Pre-Honours Pool” application explaining why they wish to pursue an Honours degree, describing their area(s) of interest, and listing their top three (3) choices for supervisors among full-time Psychology faculty. Students must also include an official academic transcript with this application. Pre-Honours applications are due January 5.

Students qualifying for the pre-Honours pool are notified and directed to contact the Psychology faculty they selected to find out about potential research opportunities.  However, admission to the program will be competitive, and it is recommended that students make some preliminary inquiries before selecting a faculty member to find out about availability, areas of interest, and background courses the student might need. Since the demand for the program will likely exceed the resources, qualifying for the pre-Honours pool does not guarantee admittance into the Honours program

Students selected by a Psychology faculty member from the pre-Honours pool will then submit an “Honours research proposal” of 300–500 words, signed by their proposed supervisor, and an updated official academic transcript. This application is due May 15, and is reviewed by the department before final acceptance

Psychology Honours Program Application forms 

The Honours thesis defence

Honours Theses will be defended in an oral exam before the student's “Examining Committee”. This committee consists of the student's supervisor plus a second faculty member from the UPEI Department of Psychology, and a third member who might be:

  • from the UPEI Department of Psychology
  • an “external” from another department
  • a professional from the community.

In cases where a student is co-supervised, both supervisors will be on the committee but they will share one vote. The selection of the committee and when it is constituted will be determined by the supervisor in consultation with the student.

Details of the structure of the Honours defence may vary, but the general format includes: a brief presentation of the thesis by the student, followed by two or more rounds of questions. After all questions from the Examining Committee have been answered, the student is excused while the committee determines a number grade. The student is then informed of the result of the defence and of any revisions required before a grade (for PSYC 4900) is submitted.