Specialized Honours BA/BSc

Are you considering graduate studies in Psychology or a related field? Would you like to complete an individually supervised thesis as part of your undergraduate program? Are you highly motivated to learn about conducting psychological research? If so, the Specialized Honours Psychology Program may be a good fit for you.

The Specialized Honours Psychology Program is a 120-credit degree program designed for students who intend to pursue postgraduate studies in Psychology or a related discipline. Students who graduate from this program will have demonstrated knowledge in a breadth of subdisciplines within Psychology and will be able to critically evaluate research results, theories, and opinions within this field.  In addition, students who graduate from this program will have specialist training in research methods, statistical analyses, scientific communication, and critical thinking. A requirement of this program is the completion of an Honour’s thesis under the direct supervision of a Psychology faculty member. This program is well suited for students who plan to pursue postgraduate studies in a research-intensive field.  Admission to the program is by Department permission.  Please note you can only apply to the Specialized Honours Psychology Program between May 1 and May 15 at https://spechon.apps01.yorku.ca.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Specialized Honours Program right for me?

The Specialized Honours Psychology Program (YUSHPP) is designed to provide advanced training in research methods, statistical analysis, scientific communication, and critical thinking. Students admitted to the program are required to complete a specific set of courses intended to develop breadth and depth of psychological knowledge and build strong research skills. This research training will culminate in the completion of a thesis supervised by a faculty member. Throughout the program you are mentored in the process of preparing for and then applying to graduate programs in psychology.

When can I apply to the program?

Applications will be accepted between May 1st and May 15th of each academic year.  You are eligible to apply for this program this year if you:

  1. Have completed (or will have completed by the end of the summer term) at least 54 credits,
  2. Have completed at least 12.0 credits of your General Education requirements
  3. Have at least a B+ (7.0 or higher) cumulative GPA
  4. Have completed (or will have completed by the end of the summer term) each of the following courses:
  • Psychology 2020: Statistical Methods I and II (or equivalent)
  • Psychology 2030: Introduction to Research Methods,
  • Psychology 2010: Writing in Psychology
  • at least 3.0 credits from Group 1 (2100 series) and
  • at least 3.0 credits from Group 2 (2200 series)

To remain in the program, and prior to enrolling in Psychology 4001: Specialized Honours Thesis Seminar, you must:

  1. Complete the prerequisites for Psychology 4001 (including Psychology 3000: Professionalism and Communication in Psychology, Psychology 3031: Intermediate Statistics Laboratory, and Psychology 3010: Intermediate Research Methods).  It is recommended that these courses be completed in third year (i.e., prior to completing 90 credits)
  2. Secure a thesis supervisor AND
  3. Maintain at least a B+ (7.0 or higher) cumulative GPA.

We will make every effort to help to guide you towards an appropriate thesis supervisor, but it is your responsibility to secure a supervisor.  Without a thesis supervisor, you will no longer be able to pursue the Specialized Honours Program, even if you have been received provisional acceptance into the program.  If you are facing difficulties findings a thesis supervisor, it is recommended that you contact the Specialized Honours Program Coordinator (Dr. Jennifer Steele; steeleje@yorku.ca) for additional guidance.

How do I apply?

The application period is between May 1 and May 15.  You start the application process by completing an online application, which can be found at: https://spechon.apps01.yorku.ca/

Your application will be reviewed and we will aim to render a decision by the end of May.

What is a Specialized Honours thesis and how to I enroll?

The Specialized Honours Thesis Seminar (PSYC 4001) course differs from other courses in several respects. First, although there are required lectures they are not help every week.  This is because this course consists primarily of research.  Through meetings between you and your thesis supervisor,  you with plan out each phase of a research project, from selecting a topic, designing your study, collecting your data, analyzing your data, to writing up your results.  The end product is the written document, the Honours Thesis, which typically consists of an several parts, including an introduction (literature review), method section, results section, and discussion.

These vary in length, but most undergraduate theses are around 30 pages. The length will vary depending on the nature of the project and the expectations of your supervisor. In the case of a thesis, bigger is not necessarily better. The thesis itself is similar to an M.A. thesis, but it is considerably less ambitious in scope.

The purpose of a thesis is to make a contribution, however small, to the existing body of knowledge in the field of psychology. Consequently, it is quite different from the kind of course paper that is just a summary of published research, designed to show that the students have done their work. The goal of a thesis is to add some new finding or new insight to what is already known.  The topic of the thesis is often decided on in close collaboration with your thesis supervisor.

How do I enrol?

Your first step will be to find a thesis supervisor.  You will be provided with guidance about how to do this in PSYC 3000 - Professionalism and Communication in Psychology, a required course in the Specialized Honours program.  Once you have a thesis supervisor, you should:

  • Confirm you have completed all 4001 prerequisites:
    • Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 1010 6.00) with a minimum grade of C
    • Writing in Psychology (PSYC 2010 3.00)
    • Introduction to Research Methods (PSYC 2030 3.00)
    • Statistics I & II (PSYC 2020 6.00)
    • Professionalism and Communication in Psychology (PSYC 3000 3.0)
    • Intermediate Research Methods (PSYC 3010 3.00)
    • Intermediate Statistics Laboratory (PSYC 3031 3.00)
  • Obtain a 4001 thesis contract from the Specialized Honours website (under Forms and Documents: Specialized Honours Thesis (PSYC 4001 6.00) guideline &contract) or the Undergraduate Office
  • Complete and sign the contract with your supervisor
  • Make a photocopy for yourself and your supervisor
  • Leave a copy of the signed contract in 291 BSB (the undergraduate office) for approval (i.e. confirmation that prerequisites have been completed)
  • You will be notified when permission for you to enrol has been mounted

What are the degree program requirements for the BA program?

Students entering the Specialized Honours program will follow the new program requirements.  These are pasted below and are also available through the current academic calendar.

Psychology (Specialized Honours BA Program): 120 Credits

Admission: Admission to this program is by permission of the department. To apply, students must be currently enrolled in an Honours program in Psychology, with a minimum overall cumulative grade point average of 7.00 (B+), and must have completed HH/PSYC 1010 6.00 (with a minimum grade of C), HH/PSYC 2010 3.00, HH/PSYC 2020 6.00 and HH/PSYC 2030 3.00 or equivalent. The application process, and all necessary forms, are available online at http://psychdev.info.yorku.ca/, or through the Department of Psychology Undergraduate Office.

Continuing: to continue in the Specialized Honours program, students must maintain an overall cumulative grade point average of at least 7.00 (B+).

Residency requirement: a minimum of 30 course credits and at least half (50 per cent) of the course credits required in each undergraduate degree program major/minor must be taken at York University.

Graduation requirement: all graduates must complete a total of at least 120 credits with a minimum overall cumulative grade point average of 7.00 (B+).

General education: a minimum of 18 credits as follows:

  • six credits at the 1000 level in approved Faculty of Health general education or humanities categories approved by the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • six credits at the 1000 level in approved Faculty of Health general education or social science categories approved by the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • six credits at the 1000 level in natural science (NATS) offered by the Faculty of Science

Note 1: it is required that students complete the general education requirements above within their first 54 credits.

Note 2: students may complete a maximum of 30 credits in general education, any additional credits not being used to fulfill general education may count toward electives.

Note 3: general education requirements are satisfied by taking natural science courses, approved humanities or social science categories courses and Faculty of Health general education courses. For further information please visit http://health.info.yorku.ca/current-student-information/general-education-requirements/.

Major credits: students must complete a minimum of 60 credits in psychology, including at least 12 credits at the 4000 level.

Psychology courses must include:

At least six credits chosen from Group 1 (2100 series):

At least six credits chosen from Group 2 (2200 series):

At least six additional credits in psychology (PSYC) at the 3000 level.

At least six additional credits in psychology (PSYC) at the 4000 level.

Note 1: to be eligible to enroll in 3000-level psychology courses, students must have: at least 54 credits,HH/PSYC 1010 6.00 with a minimum grade of C and all additional course prerequisites.

Note 2: to be eligible to enrol in 4000-level psychology courses, students must be enrolled in an Honours program and must have: at least 84 credits, HH/PSYC 1010 6.00 with a minimum grade of C and all additional course prerequisites.

Upper-level credits: a minimum of 36 credits must be taken at the 3000 or 4000 level, including at least 18 credits at the 4000 level.

Credits outside the major: a minimum of 18 credits outside the major. Credits outside the major may be used to fulfill upper-level credits.

What are the degree program requirements for the BSc program?

Students entering the Specialized Honours program will follow the new program requirements.  These are pasted below and are also available through the current academic calendar.

Psychology (Specialized Honours BSc Program): 120 Credits

Admission: Admission to this program is by permission of the department. To apply, students must be currently enrolled in an Honours program in Psychology, with a minimum overall cumulative grade point average of 7.00 (B+), and must have completed HH/PSYC 1010 6.00 (with a minimum grade of C), HH/PSYC 2010 3.00, HH/PSYC 2020 6.00 and HH/PSYC 2030 3.00 or equivalent. The application process, and all necessary forms, are available online at http://psychdev.info.yorku.ca/, or through the Department of Psychology Undergraduate Office.

Continuing: to continue in the Specialized Honours program, students must maintain an overall cumulative grade point average of at least 7.00 (B+).

Residency requirement: a minimum of 30 course credits and at least half (50 per cent) of the course credits required in each undergraduate degree program major/minor must be taken at York University.

Graduation requirement: all graduates must complete a total of at least 120 credits with a minimum overall cumulative grade point average of 7.00 (B+).

General education requirement: a minimum of 18 credits as follows:

  • six credits at the 1000 level in approved Faculty of Health general education or humanities categories approved by the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • six credits at the 1000 level in approved Faculty of Health general education or social science categories approved by the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • six credits at the 1000 level in approved Faculty of Health general education or humanities or social science categories approved by the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

Note 1: it is required that students complete the general education requirements above within their first 54 credits.

Note 2: students may complete a maximum of 30 credits in general education, any additional credits not being used to fulfill general education may count toward electives.

Note 3: general education requirements are satisfied by taking approved humanities or social science categories courses and Faculty of Health general education courses. For further information please visit http://health.info.yorku.ca/current-student-information/general-education-requirements/.

Basic science requirement: a minimum of 15 credits as follows:

Note: Psychology students are strongly recommended to take LE/EECS 1570 3.00.

Major credits: students must complete a minimum of 60 credits in psychology.

Psychology courses must include:

At least six credits chosen from Group 1 (2100 series):

At least six credits chosen from Group 2 (2200 series):

At least six additional credits from psychology (PSYC) at the 3000 level.

At least six additional credits from psychology (PSYC) at the 4000 level.

Note 1: to be eligible to enroll in 3000-level psychology courses, students must have: at least 54 credits, HH/PSYC 1010 6.00 with a minimum grade of C and all additional course prerequisites.

Note 2: to be eligible to enrol in 4000-level psychology courses, students must be enrolled in an Honours program and must have: at least 84 credits, HH/PSYC 1010 6.00 with a minimum grade of C and all additional course prerequisites.

Upper-level credits: a minimum of 42 credits at the 3000 level or 4000 level, including 18 credits at the 3000 or 4000 level in the major with 12 credits at the 4000 level.

Required science credits outside the major: A minimum of nine credits in science disciplines outside the major, of which three credits must be at the 2000-level or above. Required science credits outside the major can be selected from the following:

Electives: additional elective credits as required for an overall total of at least 120 credits. Elective credits may be used to fulfill science and upper-level credits.

Will I gain research experience through the Specialized Honours Program?

The Specialized Honours Thesis Seminar (Psyc 4001) course provides a rich, experiential research experience.  In addition, students who are interested in pursuing graduate studies in Psychology and who are interesting in completing a thesis are strongly encouraged to gain some research experience in a lab first (please visit the Research Opportunities link on our website for more information).

Faculty members often accept volunteer and sometimes paid research assistants into their labs, provided students are willing to devote between 5 and 10 hours per week (depending on the research lab) helping with ongoing research projects.  This is a valuable learning opportunity as students get to learn more about the research process in a way that is very hands-on and often quite collaborative.  These positions also allow students to get to know graduate students and faculty members who can answer questions about graduate school, provide valuable training opportunities, and ultimately provide letters of recommendation for graduate programs.  Students are encouraged to start getting involved in research by their second or third year in the program.  In Professionalism and Communication in Psychology (Psyc 3000), students have the opportunity to connect with a research lab (if they have not already) as part of the course requirement.  Finally, as noted above, through Specialized Honours Thesis Seminar (Psyc 4001), students have the opportunity to complete a research project under the direct supervision of a faculty member.

What happens if my GPA drops below 7.0 or I fail to complete one of the required courses?

If you do not meet the requirements of the program, you will continue your program as a regular Honours Psychology student. Depending on the circumstances you may or may not be re-instated if your GPA reaches 7.0 (B+) by the time you graduate and you have completed all of the required courses in the Specialized Honours program.

Once I am accepted in to the program what will I need to do to complete the requirements?

  • Maintain an overall cumulative grade point average of at least 7.00 (B+).
  • Complete all of the degree requirements for the Specialized Honours BA or BSc (120 credit) degree.  Please see the academic calendar for more information.

Where can I find help with my Thesis?

You will learn more about thesis support in the Specialized Honours Thesis Seminar (Psyc 4001).  These include:

Finding research articles: The Scott Library provides workshops geared at conducting literature searches and finding relevant research articles.

Sample Theses and other resources: Also, the Psychology Resource Center - Hebb Lab provides sample undergraduate theses and a computer lab.  Please see the website for more information.

Analyzing data: The Statistical Consulting Service ( SCS ) at York University offers workshops and drop-in statistical consulting exclusively for 4th year students enrolled in PSYC 4000, 4001, 4170 and 4175.

Writing Support: To get help with writing in general see the etutoring or workshops available through the writing department (located at s329 Ross Building).

In addition, there are a number of online resources available to you to help you to write your thesis following APA formatting and style as outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2009). There is succinct information on APA style punctuation, information about the main sections of a manuscript, an APA Style and formatting guide updated with 6th edition APA manual information at the OWL website which describes general APA writing guidelines and where if you look under Research and Citation you can find the most up to date way for citing your sources.

The information from the APA manual has been summarized in a writing handout based on the 6th edition APA manual that also describes some useful information for writing your thesis. Given that the manual is over 400 pages in length, there is a lot of information not covered in the aforementioned resources. Therefore, the ultimate authority is the APA pubication manual. In order to truly understand and learn the APA style of writing you should look at and perhaps even purchase a copy of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association because it will be a good reference book for graduate school. There are about 7 copies of the 6th edition of the manual available in the libraries on campus, some of which have been placed on reserve.

Note that if your thesis is outstanding you should consider submitting it to the Yale Review of Undergraduate Research in Psychology (in consultation with your supervisor who might be considering other outlets).  This is an annual journal that showcases the best and most original research in psychology conducted by undergraduates from around the world. They provide a platform for undergraduate scientists to share their findings, and aim to bring together a community of young psychologists from both the United States and abroad. Published undergraduate theses are now available for your perusal - one of which is from our 2008/9 thesis student cohort (see the one authored by S. Luca). Deadline for submissions are usually around mid April. See their website for details about submission guidelines.

You will also learn more about the Annual Ontario Psychology Undergraduate Thesis Conference which typically takes place in May.  You are encouraged to submit and present your research findings.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

Please contact the undergraduate office and be sure to look for workshops that can provide more information on the Specialized Honours program.

 

The video below provides more information about our program.  Please note that while we make every effort to help ensure that students accepted into the Specialized Honours Program will find a thesis supervisor, this is not guaranteed

Can't find what you're looking for?  Feel free to take a look at our old Specialized Honours webpage located here:  http://yushpp.apps01.yorku.ca/