Senior Thesis

Doing a senior thesis is the ideal way to put your course work to use, but it is up to the student to find a faculty member to supervise his or her thesis. Some theses are based on hypotheses that undergraduates develop from course work or other readings but more often they are based on other research taking place in a faculty member's lab. Because research is time consuming, students should plan on thesis research and writing taking at least 2 semesters.


A faculty member nominates a student to do a senior thesis by filling out the Senior Thesis Nomination form (download for fillable form) and turning it in to the Undergraduate Coordinator. This does not preclude a student from initiating this process by approaching a faculty member and asking the faculty member if he or she is willing to supervise a thesis. The nomination form must be signed by the nominator – who presumably will be the supervisor of the thesis – as well as a second reader. The nomination should take place the semester before the student would take Psyc 4601 (Senior Thesis).

A faculty member can withdraw his or her nomination prior to the semester in which Psyc 4601 would begin if the nominator believes the student is not prepared to carry out the thesis. A student may also elect to drop Psyc 4601.

Readers of Senior Thesis

There must be two readers of a senior thesis; the first reader must be the supervisor of the thesis. The supervisor and second reader must be regular or adjunct faculty in the School of Psychology. The grade for Psyc 4601 is determined by the supervisor of the thesis as long as the second reader agrees that the thesis deserves at least a "D."

The second reader must be given the thesis document at least two weeks prior to the end of the term (in which the student is taking Psyc 4601) to read the thesis and provide feedback for possible revisions that would need to be completed before the end of the term.

Credit Hours for Senior Thesis

Students are advised to make their senior thesis a two-semester sequence.

For the first (typically, Fall) semester, the student would register for 3 hours of Psyc 4600 (Senior Thesis). The product of Psyc 4600 is a research proposal for the work to be completed in Psyc 4601 (Senior Thesis II).

For the second (typically, Spring) semester, the student would register for 4 hours of Psyc 4601 (Senior Thesis).

This approach would recognize the reality of the time involved in preparing and carrying out a senior thesis. It would also allow for the possibility that a student might be assigned an incomplete or a failing grade for Psyc 4601 (for example, for not completing the thesis) while still receiving credit that recognizes the preparatory work (by presumably receiving a passing grade in Psyc 4600).

Thesis Content and Format

A senior thesis will ordinarily be an empirical study although in certain cases it can be an integrative review paper. Theses must be written in APA format.

Collecting Senior Theses

A PDF copy of the thesis must be given (e.g., via e-mail) to the Undergraduate Coordinator. The PDF copy will be uploaded to the School of Psychology web page and will become part of the repository of senior theses that can be accessed by interested people – especially psychology majors and their advisors – who wish to get a sense of what might constitute a reasonable senior thesis.

Certificate of Approval

A Certificate of Senior Thesis Approval form must be completed by the student and signed by the two readers of the thesis and the Undergraduate Coordinator.

The readers will not sign the form until both are satisfied with the thesis document. The Undergraduate Coordinator will sign the form after the form has been signed by the readers and the Undergraduate Coordinator has received a PDF copy of the final version of the thesis. The original signed form is kept by the supervisor of the thesis and a copy is kept by the Undergraduate Coordinator.

A grade will be turned in for Psyc 4601 (by the supervisor of the thesis) when the approval form has been signed by both readers and the Undergraduate Coordinator.