The minimum GPA to do a Psychology thesis is 3.5. This GPA cutoff is designed to help faculty evaluate which students are likely to complete a thesis successfully. Students with lower GPAs may still apply, and petition for a special exemption to this rule when submitting their thesis application (due in the spring of your junior year).
Required Methods Courses
You are required to take a basic methods course and an advanced methods course by the end of your junior year in order to do a thesis. This requirement is designed to provide you with skills useful in doing actual psychological research:
- Basic methods course (Psychology 1900 or Statistics 101) no later than junior fall
Advanced methods course (Psychology 1901) no later than junior spring (Please note that PSY 1901 is ONLY offered in the spring)
Required Lab Courses
You are required to take at least one lab course by the end of your junior year (preferably sooner) in order to do a thesis. If you are even considering writing a thesis, you should take a lab course to hone your knowledge of research methods, become acquainted with faculty and potential thesis supervisors, and to narrow down potential areas of interest. If possible, it is a good idea to try to do a lab course in a lab where you might like to do a thesis, as you may become involved in research that could evolve into your own thesis study.
Lab courses generally involve:
- 10-12 hours of work per week in the lab.
- Attendance/ participation in lab meetings.
- A final academic product, generally a 10-page research paper or a presentation.
Some lab courses may have other requirements, including:
- Background reading or presentations.
- A full-year commitment (due to the time required to train each research assistant).
PSY 985 does not meet the lab course requirement, but does count against the lab limits for concentration requirements. Because of Harvard’s strict policy against getting credit for the same work twice, you should not enroll in PSY 985 and a lab course concurrently (unless you are working 10 hours or more on a different project and writing a separate paper for the lab course, and have cleared this with the UGO and your lab(s)). Therefore, we recommend that you complete your lab requirement before junior spring.