Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Psychology
How to Apply
If you are interested in gaining research experience by working with ECU Psychology faculty members, here are the steps to follow for your application:
A senior thesis or honors senior thesis in psychology allows students to conduct an original project under the mentorship of a faculty member. Successful completion of a senior thesis can also be used to satisfy the departmental requirement for a capstone course.
What does a senior thesis/honors thesis involve?
The thesis is designed to expose promising undergraduate psychology majors to some of the steps involved in conducting original research in psychology under the guidance of a faculty member. The steps in completing a thesis may include: searching and analyzing the published literature; identifying important and interesting research questions about thought and/or behavior; formulating testable hypotheses; selecting appropriate research methods and participants; securing ethical approval; piloting materials and procedures; collecting, entering, and analyzing data; and writing up research results. This process will help students develop their critical thinking skills, refine their skills in research design, implementation, and analysis, and improve their writing abilities. A thesis paper can be the basis for a public presentation at a local, state, or national conference, or it can be used as a writing sample for graduate or medical school.
Requirements for a Senior Thesis
To complete a senior thesis, a student must:
During the time students are working on their theses, they are required to be signed up for PSYC 4401 during their 1st semester and PSYC 4402 during their 2nd semester. Also, to enroll in PSYC 4402, students must meet the additional requirement of having taken at least 2 courses from the learning and cognition, biological bases, or general course groups.
Requirements for an Honors Senior Thesis
To complete an honor's senior thesis, a student must:
During the time students are working on the honors thesis, they are required to register for PSYC 4601 during the 1st semester and PSYC 4602 during their second semester of the thesis. Also, to enroll in PSYC 4602, students must meet the additional requirement of having taken at least 2 courses from the learning and cognition, biological bases, or general course groups.
A senior thesis does not necessarily follow a strict timetable. Many students who complete theses begin by gaining experience as undergraduate research assistants. With this in mind, below is a rough timeline for students considering theses.
Students should consider becoming involved with faculty research through an undergraduate research assistantship.
Students should begin to identify potential senior thesis advisors. For example:
Students must begin senior theses no later than the fall semester of the senior year and plan to spend both fall and spring semesters on their project. A departmental thesis research symposium is held at the end of the spring semester and the thesis is generally expected to be complete at the time of graduation.
Name: Sarah Best
Hometown: Rich Square, NC
Area of Research: Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Research Mentor: Dr. Lisa Baranik
"The OHP lab has truly been an amazing learning experience and has thoroughly prepared me for research, graduate school, and has offered knowledge that I can carry with me throughout my future endeavors."
Name: JoColl Burgess
Hometown: Clayton, NC
Area of research: Behavioral Neuroscience
Research mentor: Dr. Tuan Tran
"My senior thesis involves studying Alzheimer's Disease, using a triple transgenic (3xTg-AD) mouse model. We are investigating the neurobehavioral impairments exhibited during hippocampal-dependent learning in the Morris Water Maze (MWM) and non-spatial eyeblink classical conditioning (ECC) across the lifespan, thus allowing a better understanding of disease progression in humans."
Name: Tucker Jack Johnson
Hometown: Gatesville, NC
Area of research: Behavioral Neuroscience
Research Mentor: Dr. Tuan Tran
"I am researching the effects of complex learning on facilitating adult hippocampal neurogenesis in a triple transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's Disease."
Name: Caroline Mulhare
Hometown: Mount Airy, MD
Area of Research: Developmental Psychology
Research Mentor: Dr. Lori Curtindale
"I am currently working with Dr. Curtindale on a study that focuses on perceived mental demand in children ages six to nine."
Name: David Sager
Hometown: Rocky Mount, NC
Area of Research: Stress and Health
Research Mentor: Dr. Christyn Dolbier
“My senior thesis investigates relations of stress and stress management (SM) in medical students, as well as potential demographic (by sex, ethnicity, and training year) and SM technique differences. The study is also aimed at better understanding how these variables relate to SM opportunity receptivity and intent in medical students to address SM with future patients.”