Honours in Psychology
Because of the extra course requirements and the extra time consumed by the process of producing an Honours Thesis, early planning is important. Students may be required to pay part or all of the expenses to produce the Honours Thesis. The Department of Psychology intends to provide some financial support for students, but the amount will depend on (a) the funding the Department receives, and (b) the number of students in the program.
Seminar and Thesis
The Honours Thesis will consist of a paper written in an APA (American Psychological Association) format. Most theses typically report on a supervised independent research project (quantitative and/or qualitative), but other alternatives include:
- a review paper that includes an original historical and/or theoretical overview of the topic, or
- a critique of the theory, research, and/or practice of psychology.
Honours students are required to present their thesis proposals and completed thesis research in a "Proposal" and "Thesis" Seminar. Proposal seminars will typically be held in early January, while theses at or near completion will usually be presented in April (the exact dates will vary from year to year).
Other Honours seminars will be led by faculty members on various topics pertinent to writing an honours thesis, such as "Research Ethics in Psychology," "Conducting a Literature Review," and "Proposal Writing." Faculty may also present their own research, providing students with an understanding of how various types of research are conducted. These seminars are intended to help the student not only with their thesis, but to serve as guidance for future career plans and goals. Honours student are expected to attend all seminars.
Honours Theses will be defended in an oral exam to the student's supervisory committee. This committee will normally consist of the student's supervisor plus two other faculty members, or one other faculty member and a professional from the community. After the defence, the committee will assign the thesis one of the following grades: Failed, Passed, or Passed with Distinction.
The "Honours Process": Starting and Finishing an Honours Degree
There are three "entry points" into the Honours Program (i.e., due dates for submitting applications): May 1, September 1, or January 4. Because of the extra course requirements and the extra time consumed by 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 most graduate programs (including non-psychology). Those interested in this path are advised to complete their Honours thesis in their fourth year, and should consider the following time-line:
- 3rd year (1st term): Consider options after graduation; identify area(s) of interest; discuss with academic advisor.
- 3rd year (2nd term): Contact the Honours Co-ordinator or a professor who is conducting research in an area of interest, and who is accepting Honours students the following year.
- Starting the program: Pending an agreement with a professor, students should submit their application to enter the Honours Program in either the beginning of the summer (May 1) or fall (September 1) semesters (i.e., between 3rd and 4th or beginning of 4th year).
- Other Important Points about the Honours Program
Admission to the program will be competitive, and because the demand for the program will likely exceed the resources, not all applicants who meet the formal requirements will be accepted. Students may be required to produce their theses largely at their own expense. The Department of Psychology is able to provide some financial support in the form of an Honours Thesis account, but the amount will depend on the funding the Department receives, and the number of students in the program.