Honors in the Major

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What Is the Honors Program? 

The Honors program is designed for highly motivated and exceptional Psychology majors who are considering postgraduate study. It consists of a three-semester progression of seminar courses and intensive research experience. Students collaborate with a faculty mentor to complete a research project that contributes to the body of knowledge in psychological science. The project culminates in a final written thesis, an oral research presentation, and a poster presentation. At least one semester of research experience is highly recommended before applying to the program.  

Benefits of the Program 

The Honors program offers an enriching and immersive experience for students who wish to challenge themselves. Students will interact closely with their faculty mentor, the Honors director, and fellow Honors program students. They will hone their critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills. In addition to the research experience, there is a focus on professional development and preparation for graduate school. Students who successfully complete the program will have an Honors in the Major designation on their diploma along with a Mason Impact designation on their transcript. 
Honors program alumni have been accepted to graduate programs at a variety of prestigious institutions. Several are now tenured/tenure-track faculty. Others have obtained positions in research, industry, government, and non-profit organizations.  

What Does the Program Involve?  

Accepted students will enroll in Honors I (PSYC 490) in the spring of their junior year. In this first semester, students finalize their project idea and begin a literature review. In the fall of their senior year, students enroll in Honors II (PSYC 491) and complete the thesis proposal. During the spring of senior year, students enroll in Honors III (PSYC 492), complete the final thesis, and present their research to faculty and fellow students. 
All three Honors courses are part of a Research and Scholarship Intensive Course sequence as approved by GMU’s Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR). Students in these courses can take advantage of the various opportunities offered through OSCAR such as Mason Impact MINI grants, the Celebration of Student Scholarship, and the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. 
To graduate with honors, students must earn a minimum GPA of 3.50 in each of the three Honors courses and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 and a minimum GPA of 3.40 in Psychology courses. 

Who Can Apply to the Honors Program? 

Students must meet the following criteria in order to be considered for admission:

  • Junior Standing
  • Completion of at least 50 credits (transfer credits included) 
  • Successful completion of Statistics in Psychology (PSYC 300) and Research Methods in Psychology (PSYC 301) or equivalent (OK if one of these is in progress at time of application)  
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 
  • Minimum Psychology GPA of 3.40 
  • At least one semester as a research assistant in a faculty lab is highly encouraged 

What do Students Say About the Program?

 “Honors has taken research and broken it into smaller, more digestible pieces for me, and I've found that I actually like it! In classes like research methods, the research papers that we read felt so unapproachable and different from all of the textbooks that I was used to reading that the thought of a career in research was uninteresting. But through my own Honors thesis and my lab experience, my love of research has increased exponentially.”  
"From day one of the Honors Program, I have been able to grow immensely as an individual and as a professional student. My writing and public speaking abilities, as well as the knowledge I have gained from my mentors while working on my thesis and in the lab have most definitely furthered my intellect and passion for psychology!"  
"For me, completing honors helped to confirm my decision to apply to a research intensive graduate program. Your honors thesis, and research in general, is about so much more than getting the results you anticipated. The critical reasoning skills, methodological training, and continually being challenged to think is what really helped to set me aside from other applicants when it became time to apply for graduate school. Well that, and LOTS of writing! "