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Psychology Honors Program

Each year a small number of qualified psychology majors are admitted to the department's Honors program. The Honors program is designed to provide intensive and personal instruction for selected students who intend to pursue graduate or professional study. All students acquire advanced knowledge and skills in psychology and conduct their own research projects.

For over twenty years the Psychology Department has offered an Honors Program in Psychology for qualified Psychology majors. It is our goal that all potentially interested and qualified students are made aware of the existence of the Honors Program so that they may consider whether they would like to apply for entrance into the program. The program involves a total of 12 semester hours distributed over the Junior (Psychology 391, 392) and Senior (491, 492) years. In the senior year each student works with an individual faculty advisor to design and complete an individual research project. Upon completion of the program and recommendation by the Psychology faculty, students will graduate with Honors in Psychology. Based on work in the Honors courses and the individual research project students are selected to graduate from UNM with honors: Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude.

The Honors major is especially, but not uniquely, attractive to those who plan to pursue graduate work in Psychology. For them, the opportunity to work on a person-to-person basis with a member of the faculty helps to clarify their commitment to the field and their qualifications for further study. The program is also invaluable for those who plan to go into other professional training, such as medicine, teaching, and the law. Hands-on familiarity with the nature of behavioral research enhances their ability to utilize psychological knowledge in such contexts.

Content of the Honors Program

In the junior year, the focus of the program is essentially fourfold:

  • To provide students with an overview of the historical background and philosophical underpinnings of the major schools of psychology,
  • To provide exposure to the various content areas of psychology and to assist students in preparing for graduate study,
  • To provide students with practice in both written and oral communication about various theoretical and research issues in psychology, and
  • To provide an introduction to research design and basic statistical analysis of experiments.


In the first semester the student is introduced to philosophy of science and the history of psychology through a variety of materials including excerpts from original sources. Several faculty also serve as guest speakers and present the students with a description of their theoretical positions and research. In addition, students are required to give class presentations, e.g., a short description of an area of interest to the student or a research proposal, and to write position papers on issues within psychology. The second semester is devoted to discussion of research design and methods of statistical analyses. In addition, students are again required to give a class presentation and to write a term paper. These will concern an actual proposal of research that the student anticipates carrying out as a senior thesis project. Grades are determined primarily on the basis of written assignments, overall class participation, and oral presentations.

In the senior year the major focus of the Honors Program is the completion of an individual research project. During the fall semester the student finalizes the plan for the senior thesis in conjunction with a faculty sponsor who is selected by the student to direct the research project. The student is free to work with any member of the faculty and pursue any research topic within psychology. Class meetings during the fall semester involve discussions of research interest of the students, issues of design and methodology, careers in psychology, and information regarding graduate training in psychology. In the spring semester we focus more on individual projects with students giving oral presentation s of their proposed and completed projects. At the conclusion of spring semester the honors students are required to turn in a written report of their completed research project. A Psychology faculty committee reads the paper and Honors are awarded on the basis of these reports in conjunction with the student's performance in class over the junior and senior years. Grades are based on class participation and your written report.

Selection into the Honors Program

The goals of the Honors Program require a limited class size to facilitate discussion in a seminar-type setting. Thus, admission cannot be open, but must involve some kind of selection process. The primary basis for selection of students for the program is past academic performance and the personal statement describing interests in psychology and commitment to advanced training (whether it be in psychology or some other area). Other factors such as unique background, training, or research involvement will also be considered. Pre- or co-requisites for Psych 391, the first course in the four-semester sequence, include either Psych 260: Psychology of learning and Memory or Psych 265: Cognitive Psychology; Psych 200: Statistical Principles; and Psych 302: Psychological Research Techniques.

In order to ensure that students with unusual records are not eliminated from consideration, our minimum requirements for selection are kept flexible. In general, students entering the program will have a GPA of 3.0 or better, and in fact the mean GPA of admitted students in recent years has been 3.4 or above. We will, however, consider applications from students with lower GPAs who are interested in the program. Students enter the program in the fall, typically having the status of first-semester Junior at that time, and having accumulated nearly 20 credit hours of Psychology courses.

Application to the Psychology Honors Program

Students interested in the Psychology Honors Program should apply during the spring semester preceding their junior year. Application Deadline: April 1. Applications received after this date will be considered only if openings in the program still remain at that time. Application forms are available in the Psychology Department office, Logan 180. Applications must include: a copy of all grade transcripts, a statement of the applicant's interests in Psychology, plans for graduate study, if any, and your career plans. Please forward application materials to:

The University of New Mexico
Director of Psychology Honors Program
Department of Psychology
Albuquerque, NM 87131-1161

Your application should include a current phone number and address so that you can be notified of the department's admission decision. If you have any further questions regarding the program, do not hesitate to contact the Department of Psychology, 277-4121.