HONORS PROGRAM


Qualified students may apply to the honors program during pre-registration in the spring semester of their junior year. Qualified Psychology majors at Rice University may participate in the Psychology Honors Program. The Honors Program provides individualized and advanced instruction and experience in psychological research. The program generally takes two semesters to complete and is usually undertaken in the senior year. Students interested in participating in the Psychology Honors Program must work with a member of the psychology department faculty who can serve as their primary advisor. The student must submit a research proposal, signed by the advisor, and a copy of their transcripts, to the Psychology Department Undergraduate Committee for approval (see Requirements and Procedures, below). The student should also enroll in PSYC 499 Honors Thesis, which requires a special registration form; the head of the Honors Program--not the student's primary advisor--signs as the Course Instructor. As of Fall 2012, students may register for PSYC 499 prior to approval of their proposal, in order to meet the Registrar's no-fee add/drop deadline; this policy is subject to change in the future. 

The student must prepare a progress report on the research project and submit this to the Undergraduate Committee on or before the last day of classes of the first semester of PSYC 499 enrollment. The student must receive approval of the Undergraduate Committee to enroll in the second semester PSYC 499, Honors Thesis. If approval is not granted, the student may enroll for a second semester of PSYC 499 and complete the research project for course credit, but the project will not be eligible for departmental honors. The completed project must be presented as formal written research report in proper APA format to the undergraduate committee for acceptance. The student must also present the results in a public poster and/or oral presentation, at a time and location to be determined by the Undergraduate Committee. Upon completion of the requirements and acceptance of the research report by the Undergraduate Committee, the student will be awarded Psychology Department Honors.

Students can receive both Psychology departmental honors and Rice University honors (RUSP) for the same project, but they cannot receive double course credit for the same work. Thus if you choose to enroll in RUSP (HONS470/471), you should not enroll in PSYC 499. If you elect that alternative, you may still receive departmental honors if you follow all the other requirements for psychology honors. Note that acceptance of a project by RUSP does not guarantee acceptance by the Psychology Undergraduate Committee for an honors project, nor does successful completion of a RUSP project guarantee departmental honors. You may turn in the same thesis for both Rice and Psychology honors, but you may have to make separate presentations of your thesis for RUSP and Psychology honors. Note, however, that the Psychology Honors thesis must be in recognized APA format, which will generally be acceptable as the RUSP final presentation.

Prerequisites

1. Minimum overall GPA of 3.5; Psychology GPA of 3.7.
2. Completion of 18 hours of Psychology Department degree requirements.
3. Completion of PSYC 339 Statistical Methods.
4. Completion or concurrent enrollment in PSYC 340 Research Methods

Requirements

1. Commitment for a faculty member to sponsor the project, signified by their signature on the proposal.
2. Submission of a completed, signed proposal (see Procedures below), list of psychology courses taken and grades received, and an unofficial transcript to the Undergraduate Committee by the no-fee add/drop deadline of the first semester of PSYC 499 enrollment (end of the second week of classes).
3. Submission of a progress report (see below) to the Undergraduate Committee by the last day of classes of the first semester of PSYC 499 enrollment. The student will not be allowed to register for a second semester of PSYC 499 enrollment without the approval of the committee.
4. Submission of a final formal written presentation of the research project to the Undergraduate Committee 1 week (7 days) before the last day of classes of the last semester of PSYC 499 enrollment. *Note: Prior to Spring 2013, a draft was due 4 weeks before the last day of classes, with a revised version due two weeks later; the new deadline allows students more time to prepare the final version while still allowing time for the Undergraduate Committee to review submissions and make recommendations if any changes are necessary prior to the oral defense.
5. Public presentation of the research project and findings in an oral defense and/or poster session at a venue to be determined by the Undergraduate Committee.

Procedures

1. The student must secure a member of the Psychology Department faculty to serve as an advisor. Under the advisor’s supervision, the student must develop a research topic and plan.

2. The student must then write up the plan as a research proposal. The proposal should consist of:

  • cover page
  • abstract
  • literature review
  • specific hypotheses of how predictor variables should relate to the dependent measures or how the dependent measure should vary under the experimental conditions
  • how these specific hypotheses support the theory presented in the literature review
  • study design and method
  • estimated number of subjects to be run
  • materials needed
  • listing or description of predictor and/or dependent measure(s)
  • proposed analysis
  • reference list

3. This proposal must be signed by the student and the advisor and submitted to the Undergraduate Committee by the end of the second week of classes (free add/drop deadline) of the first semester of participation in the Honors Program.

The Undergraduate Committee may accept the proposal, reject it, or request modifications. If the committee requests modifications, it will set a deadline for submission of those modifications. Continuation in the honors program for a second semester is contingent upon satisfactory progress in the first semester. By the end of the first semester, the student must prepare a written progress report detailing the steps underway and completed in the research plan (e.g. surveys prepared, experiments coded, subjects run, preliminary results). This report must be submitted to the Undergraduate Committee and the committee must approve the report in order for the student to enroll in a second semester in the Honors Program.

Successful completion of the project requires the acceptance of the formal APA style written report of the project by the Undergraduate Committee and a public presentation of the project. The committee can accept, reject, or request revisions of the written report. The public presentation may be a poster presentation, an oral presentation, or both, at the discretion of the committee, and at a forum to be named by the committee (e.g. an oral defense open to the public, a talk given to the psychology department faculty and students, a psychology department poster day, etc.). A student whose written report has been accepted by the Undergraduate Committee and who has made the public presentation(s) of his or her project requested by the Committee will have completed the requirements of the Honors Program and will graduate with Psychology Department Honors.

Deadlines

1. Submission of proposal: First semester free add/drop deadline
2. Progress report: First semester last day of classes
3. Written thesis: Due one week before the last day of classes of the second semester
4. Public presentation: To be determined by the Undergraduate committee, usually during finals

Notes on the Deadlines

A progress report is required by the end of the first semester in order to be sure that the student is making timely progress towards completion of the project. This allows the committee to voice concerns and for the student to take corrective measures in their experiment design or implementation. The last thing anyone wants is for a student to reach the end of his or her senior year at Rice with a project that can’t be finished on time. We want you to leave here with a success. We require a completed draft of the project one week before the end of the semester for the same reason: to allow the committee to review the manuscript and identify weaknesses that can be corrected by the student before the public presentation.

Some of the greatest benefits from an honors project are its inclusion in applications for post-graduate education, presentation at meetings outside of Rice, and submission for various awards that may be available. Deadlines for most of these submissions are quite early, some as early as November, most before March. Thus a project that is not at least nearing completion well before the formal project deadline will not be eligible for these submissions. Though procrastination to the last possible deadline is a very human characteristic, the above may provide an incentive for getting things done ahead of schedule.