Senior Research Seminar (Thesis)

Are you interested in doing a senior thesis?

Start planning in your Junior year!

PSYC BC3591, 3592 Senior Research Seminar, is one option for Psychology majors planning to fulfill their Senior Requirement.

The Senior Research Seminar involves conducting a year long research project that is sponsored by a member of the Psychology Department or a researcher from another institution. In addition to working closely with a sponsor, students enroll in the PSYC BC3591 and 3592 during their Senior year. The purpose of the seminar is to assist students in designing, implementing, writing-up and presenting their year-long research project.

During the fall semester, each student conducts a literature review, designs a project, and begins their data collection. In the early spring, data collection is completed and the rest of the semester devoted to analyzing the data, writing the thesis, and creating a professional presentation. 

Because of the nature of scientific research, each project will be different in terms of its timing and emphasis on particular aspects of the research process. Each student must complete her project by the end the Spring term and deliver the finished research project in two forms: a written thesis and an oral presentation. The thesis is to be written in APA style which is the standard format for a research paper submitted for publication to a journal. The only difference between writing the thesis and writing a paper to submit to a journal is that the thesis is written with more details. In the thesis, enough background information must be provided so that a non-specialist can understand why the work is important, what was done, and what was found. In the literature review, the thesis should be placed in a broad intellectual context and return to the broader context in the discussion.

Finding a sponsor

Students are responsible for finding their sponsor, preferably during their upper junior year. Students who have already done an Independent Study project (BC3601-3608) may be better prepared for the Senior Thesis experience, as they have established a relationship with a faculty member and are familiar with his or her research. Students who have worked with outside mentors and established a working relationship may ask that person to be their sponsor.

Working with sponsors outside of Barnard

Often a student may be conducting psychological research with a researcher outside of Barnard as part of an internship. It may be possible to use this experience as the Senior thesis. There are some specific guidelines to working with sponsors outside of Barnard. First, it is important to have a working contract with the outside mentor that insures that he or she is willing to help you with your thesis. Researchers often work on large scale projects that may take years to complete. It might be possible to take some aspect of a larger research project that the mentor has underway, and work with it as the Senior thesis. Second, it is important to make sure that what your project can be completed within a year. (Students may continue to work with their mentor on other projects, but for her Senior thesis, she must be able to finish the project within a year.) Your mentor will be invited to your presentation at the end of your Senior year.


The course grade is based on both an evaluation of research work and the performance in the seminar. Seminar attendance is mandatory.

Please consult with your psychology advisor if you have further questions about the senior thesis.