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Psychology Honors Program

Are you considering graduate school or a professional program? Are you interested in conducting original research? If so, you should consider applying to the Psychology Honors Program. This program prepares you to work on your own research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor. 

Program Benefits

  • Conduct your own research project
  • Learn to manage a project from beginning to end
  • Build strong academic relationships with your advising faculty
  • Develop skills experience that may provide an advantage for admission and success in graduate school

The Psychology Honors Program is open to all Psychology majors and those who declared the Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) major under the Psychology Department.

This program, which students can apply for in fall of their junior year, offers a distinctive way to complete your psychology major. 

Psychology Honors Information Sessions

Please attend a Psychology Honors Information Session:

  • Wednesday, November 1st, 2023 at 1:00pm (Virtual via Zoom)
  • Friday, November 3rd, 2023 at 11:00am (Virtual via Zoom)
  • Wednesday, November 8th, 2023 at 4:00pm (Hybrid)
    • In-Person in Mandler Hall 1539
    • Virtual via Zoom
  • Tuesday, November 14th, 2023 at 4:30pm (Hybrid)
    • In-Person in Mandler Hall 1539
    • Virtual via Zoom

If you cannot attend an information session or have missed the information sessions, please watch the recorded presentation. It will answer many of your questions and provide thoughtful information to consider before applying for the Psychology Honors Program.

Requirements to Apply

Our Application Review Committee takes a holistic approach when reviewing applications. Academic, leadership, research, service, and work experiences are all taken into consideration as well as a recommendation from faculty.

Students are required to have the following completed by the end of the Fall quarter they apply:

  • PSYC 60: Introduction to Statistics (or equivalent)
  • PSYC 70: Introduction Research Methods (or equivalent)
  • At least Two Upper-Division (UD) PSYC courses (preferably at UCSD)
A few examples:
  • If a student is enrolled at UCSD in PSYC 70 (PSYC 60 is a prerequisite), PSYC 102, and PSYC 104 during Fall 2023, this will fulfill the course requirements to apply to the honors program.
  • If a student transfers in PSYC 60 (or equivalent such as COGS 14B, MATH 11, etc.) and PSYC 70 (or equivalent such as COGS 14A, etc.) and is enrolled in PSYC 100 and PSYC 105 during Fall 2023, this will fulfill the course requirements to apply to the honors program.

A strong application will have an overall UC San Diego GPA of 3.3 (or 3.5 transfer GPA for first-quarter transfer students) and completion (or close to) of all lower-division major courses. Though this is a common profile of a successful applicant, we have had Honors students with lower GPAs and more than two lower-division psych major courses left to complete provided other aspects of the application are strong.

Please watch the Psychology Honors information session to learn more about required course preparation.

Applying to Program

 The online application requires the following information:

  • Student information
  • Major GPA and course information
  • Personal Statement: Describe what interests you the most about the field of psychology.
  • Supplemental Questions, answer all four 
    • Briefly describe your reasons for applying to the psychology honors program.
    • What personal and academic strengths do you possess that will contribute to your success in the psychology honors program?
    • What challenges do you foresee yourself facing in the program and what steps will you take to overcome them?
    • What are your future plans/goals after you have completed your undergraduate degree?
    • The personal statement and supplemental questions are each limited to 1,000 words.
  • 2 References: at least one must be academic. You will list their name, job/teaching title, phone number, and email address. No letters of recommendation are needed for the application.
  • You must be logged into your UCSD email account on the browser you are using to access the application.
  • You must complete the application in one sitting (there is no "save and continue at a later time" feature).
  • You can submit one application; be sure it's complete and accurate before you hit "submit."
The Psychology Honors Program Application is currently closed. Applications for the 2023-2025 cohort were due by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 28, 2023. 

Applications will be reviewed by Psychology faculty and staff. Students will be contacted with the final decision on Friday, December 22, 2023.

Students should not wait to enroll in Winter 2024 quarter courses. If admitted into the Psychology Honors Program, students will change their class schedule to enroll in the psychology honors courses during Week 1 of the Winter 2024 quarter.

Overview of Program

The Psychology Honors Program is a 2-year commitment comprised of the honors courses PSYC 110, PSYC 111A/B, PSYC 194A/B/C. Psych honors courses cannot be removed or condensed nor can courses be moved to different quarters as students move through the program as a cohort unit.

The Psychology Honors Program is not required to graduate from UCSD with a psychology major. It is optional. Therefore, students who apply and commit to this program should be prepared to dedicate substantial time and energy to their coursework and research project. Students will be asked to make numerous revisions to course papers and their thesis. The PSYC 111 courses require significant time outside the classroom to prepare for class, study for exams, and complete assignments. Students must be ready to devote extensive time to their research and faculty mentor to ensure they can complete their honors research project and thesis on time for graduation.

Junior year

Winter quarter courses:

  • PSYC 110: Junior Honors Research Seminar
  • PSYC 111A: Advanced Statistics and Research Methods I

Spring quarter course:

  • PSYC 111B: Advanced Statistics and Research Methods II

Senior year

PSYC 194A/B/C: Honors Thesis Courses (FA, WI, SP). A year-long independent research project under the mentorship of a faculty advisor. This research culminates in a thesis and a poster presentation during the Spring quarter.

NOTE for those considering the PSYC 116 series: Students should make a choice between taking the PSYC 116 series or the Psych Honors program. Both of these programs have demanding workloads, require a faculty mentor's extensive time, and there is a strong possibility that class meeting times will overlap. It is highly unlikely a student would be approved for both programs. Since both programs offer an intensive research experience, the goal is to offer more psychology majors the opportunity to experience one of these programs.

Psychology Honors Courses

All Psychology Honors courses must be taken for a letter grade. Also, all Psychology Honors courses will be used in calculating your Psychology major and cumulative GPAs.


PSYC 110: Honors Seminar (4 units)

This is a series of lectures where faculty members present their research. Students in PSYC 110 prepare themselves for each lecture by reading articles published by the various faculty members. These articles are made available in the form of a reader. The course will allow personal contact with faculty and enable students to discuss their future senior thesis projects with potential supervisors. The grade for PSYC 110 is based on participation and several short papers. Students should expect to complete multiple revisions of their papers.

PSYC 111A: Advanced Research Methods I (6 units)

This course provides training in applying advanced statistical methods to experimental design. Emphasis will be placed on the developing skills in statistical problem-solving, using computer applications, and writing scientific reports.

PSYC 111B: Advanced Research Methods II (6 units)

This course builds upon the material of PSYC 111A. Students will participate in data collection, data organization, statistical analysis, and graphical analysis, with emphasis placed on developing scientific report writing, presentations and critical thinking about experimental methods. 

PSYC 194 A/B/C: Honors Thesis Courses (4 units each)

It is important to identify a thesis advisor during or after PSYC 110. It is possible to do the project outside UC San Diego, i.e., in the VA or Children Hospital, etc. The sponsor, in this case, would be the program coordinator. In the introductory meeting, the program coordinator will give guidance regarding the whole procedure of PSYC 194 A/B/C.

Briefly, the first quarter is reserved for setting up the research project and writing of the research proposal. The proposal must be handed in at the end of the quarter and will be graded with a letter grade. The second quarter is dedicated to data collection and analysis. The grade for this course will be WIP (work in progress). It will change to a letter grade upon completion of the project at the end of the third quarter. The thesis will be read by the student's advisor, an outside faculty member, and the program coordinator. The staff coordinator will assist students with setting up the poster session at the end of the spring quarter, to which students' instructors, friends, and families are invited. At this session, students will answer questions regarding their research project.

Please attend or watch the Psychology Honors information session to learn more about how the Psychology Honors courses may apply to your psych major.

Graduating with Psychology Honors

Successful completion of the Psychology Honors program requires the following:

  • Grade of at least an A- in the PSYC 194 series
  • Minimum GPA of 3.5 in the upper-division courses taken for the major
  • 12 units of supervised research (PSYC 194 A/B/C)
  • Public presentation of Honors project (Psychology Honors Poster Session)
  • Submission of a final thesis that is considered “honors worthy” by Faculty Mentor and Honors Faculty Coordinator
Honors Faculty Coordinator: Gail Heyman, PhD
Honors Staff Coordinator: Kristi MacKenzie