Application

Prospective thesis students must apply to the thesis track. For May graduates, the primary consideration deadline for thesis applications is usually the Friday before spring break of your junior year (see calendar for exact dates). Early applications are always welcome for students who are ready and want to get a head start. Late applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Applications include an application form, a proposal, an unofficial transcript, and any other additional petitions or forms (see below). The full application must be submitted as a hard copy to the Undergraduate Office. Instructions will also be given for submitting the proposal electronically (This will usually be done through the PSY 985 course website, but if you have any questions, please contact the 985 instructor or the Undergraduate Office).

 

Instructions for Application Form

The thesis application form can be found here. Here is a detailed breakdown of how to fill it out...

  • Thesis Topic: This may be a tentative, working title.
  • Thesis Committee (click for rules on eligibility)List the name and contact information for each of your committee members. You must include a supervisor who must sign the form. It's strongly recommended that you also include a Reader, but you must first be certain that they have agreed to act in this capacity. If you do not yet have an agreed Reader, you may list some suggestions, but you should continue to actively try to find a Reader and immediately notify the UGO. If you cannot find a Reader for yourself, the department will assign one to you.
  • Signatures: Do not wait until the last minute to get signatures of your thesis Supervisor(s) and Concentration Advisor. If your thesis supervisor is not available to sign the application form, an electronic consent can be accepted in some cases; check with UGO about proper procedure. You do not need the signature of your Reader, but do not list anyone as an Agreed Reader unless you are sure.
  • SubmissionPlease be sure to submit a complete application. If your application is incomplete, we will be unable to review it, and your thesis approval risks being significantly delayed.
     

Required Attachments


Your application must include... 

  1. Research Proposal: All applications must include an attached project proposal. Proposals do not have to be final; your project may evolve over time. Proposals should indicate your current plans and be detailed enough to allow the department to evaluate if you have a topic that is appropriate for a thesis and feasible given the time and resources of a thesis. Proposals should be brief (roughly 2-5 pages) but should clearly state your thesis topic and general method. You should submit your proposal to your Supervisor(s) in advance to obtain feedback and approval.
  2. Student Record: All applications must include an attached unofficial transcript.

In addition to these, your application may include...
 

Petition for GPA Exemption

Students with a GPA below 3.5 are generally not eligible to do a thesis. Students who wish to do a thesis but do not meet this requirement must petition for an exemption by attaching a statement explaining why you feel that you are able to do a thesis and your GPA is not an accurate reflection of your ability.

In considering your request, we may reach out to your supervisor(s) to discuss your ability to do a thesis and their lab’s ability to support any extra needs you may have. We will also pay special attention to your research proposal; students requesting a GPA waiver should produce an exceptional research proposal to demonstrate their ability to complete a thesis.


Petition for Non-Departmental Co-Supervisor

Eligible departmental researchers and all members of the Board of Honors Tutors can act as Co-supervisor without a petition. If you are working with a non-departmental researcher who is not on the Board of Honors Tutors, you can petition to have them serve as a Co-supervisor on your committee.

To do this, you must attach a statement in which you explain why this person is appropriate to supervise your research. You must note the person’s title(s) and affiliation(s) (e.g., Professor of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School), provide contact information, and include a current CV or resume. (Before applying, please review the rules on committee eligibility, and consult the UGO if you have any questions.)

If you are requesting any other exemptions to the rules and prerequisites for Psychology theses, please attach a statement explaining the request and the reason.


Submitting Your Application

At every step of the thesis process, you must turn items in both digitally and physically. We do this because the Undergraduate Office keeps both digital and physical records of all thesis material for university archival purposes. To submit your application, please bring a physical copy to the Undergraduate Office in William James Hall 218, and also e-mail a copy to psychology@wjh.harvard.edu (or follow other instructions as given by the 985 instructor or UGO staff)..


Reviewing Your Application

Congratulations - you've submitted your thesis proposal! Your application will now be reviewed by the Department's Committee on Undergraduate Instruction (CUI). Because your thesis committee and course record will be an important part of this review, it is important that you have completed the application material correctly and completely. After the CUI has reviewed your application, you will be e-mailed information about its decision. If there were any special petitions in your application, the committee may require extra time to consult with your prospective committee and consider your special request(s).

In some cases, there will be a delay after you have submitted your application. (This may be because of a delay in scheduling the CUI meeting and/or a delay in consulting about any special requests.) Please note that you cannot hold your prospectus meeting until your application has been approved, but you can work on funding applications, IRB applications, and your prospectus. You can also schedule your prospectus meeting, but you should check with the undergraduate office about when you are likely to hear a decision about your application (to make sure you don’t have to reschedule if you do not have a decision yet in time for your scheduled meeting).

Approved theses will be posted to this page (under "Current Approved Thesis Proposals").
 

Changing Your Approved Application

Once the application is approved, any changes in your committee or thesis topic must be approved by the Department. Notify the UGO by email (psychology@wjh.harvard.edu) of any changes to your reader or topic; you may be asked to submit a new application and/or proposal. Any changes to your supervisor(s) will require a new signed application form and a petition to request the change. If in doubt about what is necessary, consult with the UGO!