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 classroom semester hours distributed over the Junior (PSY 391, 392) and Senior (PSY 491, 492) years. Each student will also complete four semesters' worth of lab work, which may involve formal registration for Psychology 499 credit. 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 lab work, 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 gain invaluable research experience coupled with instructional guidance in the creation and formulation of independent research help 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

The Psychology Honors Program consists of two components: a research apprenticeship component and a classroom instruction component. Both components of the program are to be completed by each Honors student.

Research Apprenticeship Component: Honors students must apprentice with a mentor and complete lab work throughout the two year course of the program. Initial apprenticeships and lab placement will be established in advance of starting the first semester of the program, or at the latest during the first two weeks of students’ first semester in the program. The specific nature of each student’s lab apprenticeship will be worked out individually between the student and her/his mentor. Apprenticeships may, for example, involve an extensive research project for which the student takes primary responsibility, or they may involve experiences in which the student performs research that fits within the mentor’s ongoing projects. Whether students receive specific 499 credit for their lab apprenticeship (and how many credits) or just end up volunteering for a lab will also be worked out individually between student and mentor. Moving from one apprenticeship/lab to another over the course of the Honors program is permissible, so students need not remain with one mentor and lab for the entire course of the Honors program. The final product of the Research Apprenticeship component of the Honors Program is a poster describing research that the student has conducted/been involved with, to be presented on Research Day in their senior year of the program.

Classroom Instruction Component: Honors students must complete four consecutive semesters of Honors coursework. The first semester of Honors coursework teaches students about the philosophical and historical foundations of modern psychology. The second semester of Honors coursework teaches students about foundational methodological and analytic principles in the study of psychology. In the third and fourth semesters of their Honors coursework, students will be charged with creating and designing, though not necessarily conducting, an independent research proposal.

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 PSY 391, the first course in the four-semester sequence, include: either PSYC 2270 (PSY 260): Psychology of Learning and Memory or PSYC 2220 (PSY 265): Cognitive Psychology; PSYC 2510 (PSY 200): Statistical Principles; and PSY 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: May 15, 2020. Applications received after this date will be considered only if openings in the program still remain at that time. Application forms are available here for you to download to your computer.  Applications must electronically from your @unm.edu email address and 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: Psychology Honors Committee at psychonors@unm.edu -- please put Psychology Honors Application in the subject line.

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.