A senior thesis is one option for the Psychology major's capstone requirement. As described in the catalog, you write an empirical paper with an American Psychological Association (APA) format.

Why do a Thesis?

It's an opportunity to explore a topic in depth, honing skills that you've learned in many previous classes and learning new skills as well. Unlike a term paper for a class, the thesis is a substantive work that you create over an extended period of time.

Who Should Consider a Thesis?

  • Anyone considering applying to a graduate program that has a research requirement (Ph.D., Psy.D., Ed.D., M.S., etc.). It will enhance your experience, your candidacy, and may even help you decide whether to pursue graduate studies.
  • Anyone who is intrigued by a psychological question and wishes to seek an answer through individualized research, rather than through the formal structure of a senior-level class.

Overview of the Thesis Process

  • During the Fall semester, the student conducts a literature review and prepares a research proposal, with substantial guidance from the faculty thesis chair
  • The student gives an oral presentation (colloquium) of the proposal to a committee of two Psychology faculty during which time the project is evaluated and critiqued.
  • If necessary, you submit a protocol to Davidson's Human Subjects (IRB) or Animal Subjects (IACUC) Research Committee for an ethical review and approval of the proposed work.
  • The student gathers data and analyze your results.
  • The student submits a complete APA style research manuscript as well as gives an oral presentation of the project to a committee of three Psychology faculty. Revisions may be requested.
  • Upon completion of final draft, the thesis is placed in the Psychology department's permanent collection.
  • The thesis is presented as a poster at the annual Miller-Case Symposium for Research and Creative Works (typically the day before Reading Day, spring semester) in order to share results with fellow majors, faculty, and the community at large.
  • For honors candidates, the committee chair will review the student's academic record, and poll the faculty for a vote.

How to Get Started?

Contact Psychology faculty (typically in Spring of junior year) to discuss the possibility of doing a thesis. Faculty are happy to talk about research and whether or not a thesis would be possible given student interests, faculty time, and available resources.