Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York


Nature of a Senior Thesis in Psychology

The Senior Honors Thesis is conceived of as either a) a piece of original work, or b) some unique aspect of the Mentor's ongoing research. Empirical projects are recommended strongly. Theses are to be written up in article format (but with more amplification than is typical of journal manuscripts), in accordance with the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.


There appears to be a sizable pool of academically sound undergraduate psychology majors who opt not to (or are not invited to) join the Fordham College Honors Program, but who still are motivated to gain experience conducting independent research. For these students, the opportunity to complete a senior thesis may serve as a useful learning experience, and augment their credentials for acceptance into a high-quality graduate program.

Relation to Fordham College Honors Program

Only students not already enrolled in the Fordham College Honors Program are invited to participate in the departmental program.

Procedure for Invitation

Students begin participation in the spring semester of their junior year. Students are informed via announcements in undergraduate psychology classes, the Psychology Club, and Psi Chi, that an information/orientation meeting is to be held at a designated time early in spring semester. Interested juniors are urged to attend, but freshmen and sophomores may come, also. At the meeting, students are provided with a rationale for completing a thesis, a set of requirements, a timetable, and a written list of psychology faculty, along with descriptions of their research interests and current projects. In addition, many psychology professors may be present to provide brief oral summaries of their research.


Psychology majors who a) can meet all graduation requirements without spring semester of thesis, by end of senior year b) by the end of junior year, have completed both Statistics and Research Methods I and II, and c) have cumulative grade-point indices of a at least 3.25, and a psychology index of at least 3.3, would be eligible. (Students who meet all requirements but have grade-point indices slightly below the cut-off might be eligible, based upon a written letter of endorsement from the mentor to the Program Coordinator).

Timetable and Courses

Prior to Computer-Assisted Pre-registration (CAP)

Preliminary discussion(s) take place between the Student and Mentor for a topic, and realistic plans for implementing the senior thesis. The plans may involve bibliographic and/or other work during the summer, and would include appropriate goals for work to be concluded during the following Fall and Spring semesters.

Submission of application including an unofficial transcript, Mentor's name (with signature), and proposed thesis title, description (preferably with preliminary hypotheses), and timetable with respect to completion of specific components (literature review, data collection, analyses, submission of first draft) to Program Coordinator.

Students register for the fall course (see immediately below) in CAP. (Exceptions could be made during the summer to write these. Such students could register for the fall course at September drop-add, if the mentor agreed.)

Fall semester

Students enroll in Honors Thesis in Psychology I, and reach a goal previously agreed upon with the mentor. Students typically are assigned grades of "IP" (in progress), as they are in the Fordham College Honors Program, and not given academic credit at that time. In addition, two readers, at least one of whom is a full-time faculty member in the psychology department, are chosen and invited to participate in the final oral. Written verification, including readers' signatures, is submitted to the Program Coordinator.

Spring Semester

Students enroll in Honors Thesis in Psychology II, which will involve completion of the thesis, and culminate in an oral presentation ("defense"). Reasonable target dates are as follows:

First draft completed: March 1; second draft completed: April 1; final revisions and submission to readers: April 25; Oral examination: during reading week. (Allowing for some flexibility, moving much beyond these dates might present problems vis a vis graduation.) The final grade will be determined by the mentor, in collaboration with the readers. This applies to 8 academic credits, for both Honors Thesis I and II. Four of the eight credits may be applied toward the Psychology Major requirements.

Students who successfully completed theses graduate "with honors in psychology," which would be designated on their transcripts. A student who does not finish the thesis for any reason will be given a grade of "P" (pass) for the first semester's work.

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