Psychology Department

Honors in the Major

Are you eager to get research experience?

Do you enjoy reading about psychological research? Do you wonder what it might be like to work with an expert on a real psychological study? Are you interested in exploring survey technology and data analyses? Can you imagine writing a research report and presenting your project at a research colloquium?

Honors Colloquium
Emily Hall presenting her project at the Spring 2019 Honors Colloquium.
Photo credit: Ryan McCasland

If so, consider applying to the Honors Program in Psychology!

The Honors Program is a 2-semester program, in which each student works with a faculty mentor on an original piece of research, typically in the faculty mentor’s area of expertise. With guidance from your mentor (and the course instructor Dr. Marie Lippmann), you will conceptualize, implement, conduct, analyze, interpret, write up, and present an authentic psychological study at a university-wide colloquium.

Who would be your faculty mentor?

This depends on a number of factors, and your course instructor (Dr. Marie Lippmann) will assist you in finding the right mentor for you once you are accepted into the program. We ask you to keep an open mind for working with faculty mentors you might not yet know, and be flexible in your research interests. If you are already talking to a faculty mentor about an Honors project at the time of your application, you are welcome to add a letter of recommendation from that faculty mentor to your application, and we will take this information into account. However, a letter of recommendation is not required.

Are you ready to commit?

The Honors Program is a yearlong commitment and both semesters it is run as a course. The class meets on Wednesdays from 2-4:50 pm in person on campus, so carefully consider the need to be in Chico on Wednesday afternoons when you apply for the program. During the fall semester, Honors students complete PSYC 399HW (3 units), which can be an elective for the major in psychology. In the fall, with guidance from your research mentor, you will define a problem area, review relevant literature, design methodology, select appropriate measures, write an introduction and methods section, and prepare the Institutional Review Board (IRB) application for the study. In the spring semester, you will complete PSYC 499H (3 units). This class takes the place of PSYC 401 (Capstone Seminar in Psychology). During this semester, you will collect and analyze the data. You will then write the results and discussion section, and prepare the project for written and oral presentation. Successful completion of each semester with a grade of B or better will result in “Honors in the Major” appearing on graduation transcripts.

Schedule Summary
Fall - 399HWSpring - 499H
  • Secure faculty mentor
  • Formulate research question
  • Read relevant literature
  • Develop hypothesis/hypotheses
  • Develop research methodology
  • Obtain IRB approval
  • Collect pilot data / test methodology
  • Write Introduction and Methods section
  • Recruit participants
  • Collect data
  • Prepare data for analysis
  • Analyze data
  • Interpret data
  • Present project at Honors Colloquium
  • Write Results and Discussion section

To get an idea of the type of Honors projects that have been developed in prior years, check out the Virtual Honors Colloquium website.


The CSU, Chico catalog lists the campus-wide requirements for the Honors in the Major program. For the Psychology Honors program, the specific requirements are:

  • Must have declared Psychology as your major.
  • Cumulative GPA and Psychology GPA should both be at least 3.5.
  • Must have completed PSYC 261 - Research Methods in Psychology.
  • Must have completed PSYC 364 - Statistical Methods in Psychology.
  • Must have completed at least 9 units of upper-division Psychology courses, in addition to PSYC 364.

For the 2023-2024 academic year, the applications have already closed. For the 2024-2025 academic year, applications will open early March 2024 and will be due late April 2024. Check back in March 2024 for detailed instructions and an application. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Marie Lippmann at

Below, you will find the link to the application form. In the application, you will be asked to provide your name, phone number, and email address. As prerequisites for the Honors Program, you must have completed PSYC 261 (Research Methods in Psychology) and PSYC 364 (Statistical Methods in Psychology). You will be asked whether you have successfully completed these courses, and indicate the grades you achieved. As prerequisites for the Honors Program, you must also have successfully completed three upper division content courses in psychology. You will be asked to indicate the course numbers and grades of the three upper division content courses in psychology that you have successfully completed. You will also be asked for your unofficial transcripts, which you can download from your student center. To qualify for the Honors program, your GPA needs to be at least 3.5. If you do not meet all prerequisites, but you have a strong interest in applying to the Honors program, reach out to Dr. Marie Lippmann at prior to the application deadline.

For the Psychology Honors program, we are looking for students who enjoy reading and thinking about research. To give the selection committee a good impression of your desire to carefully think about research, you will be asked to read a short research article and answer five questions about it in short essay format (100-500 words per question). To prepare for submitting your application, you can find the article and questions here:

  • Research article for application
  • Instructions for research article questions

    When you fill out the application, you will see the instructions below. You may use these instructions to prepare your responses ahead of time. You will be asked to enter your responses when you are filling out the application.

    Read the article “Very happy people” by Diener and Seligman (2002)

    Answer the following questions in short essay format, using your own words. Copying answers out of the article is not acceptable for this task. The expected length of each of your answers is one paragraph (i.e., 100-300 words).

    1. How does Diener and Seligman’s approach to understanding “normal” processes differ from the clinical approach?
    2. What are differences between a variable that is sufficient for happiness and a variable that is necessary for happiness, and what kind of variable were Diener and Seligman interested in for the study described in the article?
    3. What did you learn about the characteristics of very happy people in the result section?
    4. Did Diener and Seligman find a variable that in and of itself was sufficient in explaining happiness?
    5. The sample for this study was 222 college students at the University of Illinois. Do you think conducting the same study with 222 elderly adults in an assisted living facility would have yielded the same results? Why or why not?

Finally, you have the option of providing two additional types of materials for your application. First, you will have the option of submitting a letter of reference from a potential faculty mentor if you are already talking to a faculty about conducting an Honors project together, but remember that this is optional and not required for your application. Second, you will have the option to provide a statement, describing your motives and interests for participating in the Psychology Honors program.

Applications are due by 5pm, April 26th

If you have read and understood the information above, you may complete the application to the Honors Program(opens in new window). The application link will remain available until the application deadline April 26th, 2024. The committee will meet and review applications, and you will be notified with our decision right around May 10, prior to the end of the registration period for the fall semester (May 17th). If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Marie Lippmann at