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Psychology Thesis

Course Descriptions

Students enrolled in PSY 394/494 have the opportunity for in-depth investigations of current topics or research questions under the guidance of faculty sponsors. The differences between 393/493 (Independent Research) and 394/494 (Psychology Thesis) include:

  • the scope of the project, which spans a minimum of two semesters;
  • the increased level of independent work with the student having clear ownership of the project;
  • the addition of an Thesis Committee (each Thesis student will have their own committee comprised of a faculty sponsor and two additional faculty members) that will serve in an advising capacity.

NOTE: Effective Fall 2023, PSY 394/494 (Psychology Thesis) will replace what used to be PSY 396/496 (Psychology Honors Thesis). If any students have taken PSY 396 prior to Fall 2023, it will still count as the first course in the sequence of Psychology Thesis.

PSY 394 (Psychology Thesis I): a formal research proposal is developed that includes reference to relevant literature, proposed area of research, and a specific timeline for developing the full research proposal (see Psychology Thesis I and II Applications below).  After review by the faculty sponsor and the student’s Thesis Committee, the proposal is then submitted for review by the Independent Study Committee. NOTE:  If data collection is planned for the semester in which the student is enrolled in PSY 394, ethics approval must be described in the proposal for PSY 394. (See PSY 494 description below for more information about ethics approval.)

PSY 494 (Psychology Thesis II): Upon successful completion of Psychology Thesis I and the formal research proposal, a proposal for PSY 494 (Psychology Thesis II) is developed that includes original research questions, specifics of data collection, approval by the appropriate ethics boards (the Research Planning and Ethics Committee in the Psychology Department—required for human subjects research; the TCNJ IACUC—required for animal research; and the TCNJ IRB—required for dissemination of human subjects data outside the TCNJ community), and a specific timeline for accomplishing research objectives (see Psychology Thesis I and II Applications below). After review by the faculty sponsor and the student’s Thesis Committee, the proposal is then submitted for review by the Independent Study Committee.  PSY 494 culminates in a formal APA-style research report detailing all aspects of the student’s research project.  The student should submit a copy of the completed thesis report to the Psychology Department Office when the final report is submitted to the faculty sponsor.


  • Minimum GPA in Psychology of 3.3
  • PSY 299 (minimum grade of B)
  • Minimum of Junior Standing for PSY 394; Senior Standing for PSY 494
  • 12 earned units (4 must be TCNJ units)
  • Students cannot enroll in more than 1.5 units of independent study/research in a given semester
  • Sponsorship by faculty member
  • Creation of a thesis committee comprising the faculty sponsor and two additional faculty members.  At the discretion of the student and faculty sponsor, one of the committee members may be a faculty member from an outside institution or a community member with relevant knowledge and experience.
  • Approval of the Psychology Thesis Application from the Psychology Department’s Independent Study Committee


  • PSY 394 counts as a Specialized Course; PSY 494 counts as a Senior Experience course. Students may count up to one 300-level ELOPsy (Experiential Learning Opportunities in Psychology) course at the Specialized level, one ELOPsy as a Psychology Option, and one 400-level ELOPsy course at the Senior Experience level. Additional ELOPsy courses will count as electives.
  • Students must have completed PSY 394 before taking PSY 494.
  • PSY 394 and 494 may only be taken once.

Congratulations to the TCNJ Psychology Classes of 2021 & 2022 Psychology Theses Students!

Click here to read the Classes of 2021 and 2022 Psychology Theses Abstracts

Click here to read the Classes of 2020 and 2021 Psychology Theses Abstracts

Downloadable Forms

When you are ready to apply for Psychology Thesis, submit the above attachment with the online application.