Honors degree

How to earn an Honors Degree in Psychology or Neuroscience

To earn the Psychology or Neuroscience Honors Degree, a student must complete Honors Thesis Research (P499), which includes an independent laboratory research project and thesis.

Preparation. We strongly recommend students interested in earning an Honors Degree begin working in a PBS faculty member's research lab, enrolling in a Supervised Research course during their sophomore and junior year to choose a research sponsor and project area.

To prepare to complete an honors project, students also need to complete most of the requirements for their major before their senior year so they'll have in-depth understanding of an academic area and can develop an independent research project.

Admission. Application for admission to the honors program may be made during the sophomore or junior year. The requirement for admission into the program is that students must have a 3.3 GPA minimum and a faculty sponsor for research. Faculty sometimes recommend students for the Honors program, though students may also recommend themselves, and letters are sent to students who are eligible. Informational meetings are also held during the school year explaining what students can gain by honors, Psi Chi, the B.S. degree, etc.

Commitment. The nature of the honors project consists of twelve to eighteen months of laboratory research, sponsored by a faculty member. Students must write up research projects in a format similar to a master's thesis, give a poster presentation on their work, and successfully defend the thesis before a committee of three faculty members.

We recommend students begin their independent research project no later than spring of their junior year in order to allow adequate time for completion before graduation. Similarly, we recommend students enroll in P499 (a two-semester sequence course) by the spring of their junior year.

Funding. Most projects are financially supported by the sponsoring laboratory. All Indiana University Bloomington undergraduate students are eligible for Hutton Honors College Research Grants - you do not need to be a member of Hutton to receive a grant. The department of Psychological and Brain Sciences makes a number of small monetary awards at the end of the projects to those seniors who have achieved distinction in research such as the Excellence in Research Award and the Cheryl Burnham Buehler Award.


    • The advantages for students who pursue the honors degree, as compared to the regular degree, is that honors degree students are better known by the faculty since courses have small enrollments and more discussion.
    • Honors will appear on their transcript and degree. Competition for entry to many doctoral programs in psychology or neuroscience is very stiff, so any edge is very worthwhile.
    • This project shows the student is committed to the field and has some experience in the research, which is a plus for getting into graduate school.
    • Completing an honors project gives students an idea of the area they might want to pursue in graduate studies.
    • The individual research project gives the student a good background in research methodology (important for graduate admission), better time management, and, possibly, an opportunity to publish their results or present them at a conference.

The department honors committee, chaired by Dr. Dale Sengelaub, oversees the program. Dr. Sengelaub also teaches the P499 course, with individual research sponsors chosen by the student.

For more information, contact Academic Advising or Dr. Sengelaub: 

Dale R. Sengelaub
Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Phone: 812-855-9149
E-mail: Professor Sengelaub