Psychology Department Honors & Commendation Designations

Psychology majors who wish to graduate with Psychology Department Honors or Psychology Department Commendation can do so if they have at least a 3.5 psychology GPA, at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA, and complete either a Research Project (for Psychology Honors) or a Comprehensive Literature Review (for Psychology Commendation). 

These opportunities offer many advantages for students. Students will interact with their faculty supervisor regularly, become more knowledgeable about research in psychology, and are intellectually challenged outside the classroom. This may also satisfy part of the requirement for the University Honors Program; it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that their work meets criteria for both.

Coordinator: Dr. Helen Harton

Summary of Requirements

Psychology Honors Designation

  • 3.5 Psychology GPA, and 3.0 Cumulative GPA
  • Research Project (must include data collection and/or analysis)
  • Oral Presentation
  • Faculty Chair, and 1 Faculty Committee Member

Psychology Commendation Designation

  • 3.5 Psychology GPA, and 3.0 Cumulative GPA
  • Comprehensive Literature Review
  • Presentation (can be oral or poster)
  • Faculty Chair, but no Committee Member needed

Please see the information below for additional requirements/details. 

Please note: 


Research Project

Focused literature review that leads logically to hypotheses, appropriate research methods, data collection, data analysis, and discussion section. The product will be an APA-style paper. The paper should contain an abstract, an introduction section, a method section, a results section, a discussion section, references, and tables/figures (if applicable). Additionally, all measures used should be in an Appendix. Example Honors Research Projects are located in the main office of the Psychology Department.

Comprehensive Literature Review

Thorough literature review that leads logically to a student’s novel conclusion, critique, and/or implication. The product will be an APA-style paper. The paper should contain an abstract, a comprehensive literature review, a discussion section with the student’s novel contribution, and references. Dr. Harton can provide you with examples of past Literature Reviews. 



  1. The student asks a faculty member to be the Chair of their project. This usually happens toward the end of the student’s junior year. Credit for the project can be received through the course PSYCH 4705, Research Experience in Psychology, enrolled with the Chair.  
  2. If seeking the Honors Designation, the student consults with the Chair to choose one additional faculty member to be a Committee member. This member may be from the Psychology department or another department at UNI, and must be a full-time faculty member. This should take place early in the fall semester of the senior year (assuming a spring graduation). Those seeking Commendation do not need a Committee member.  
  3. The student conducts the Research Project (Honors) or Literature Review (Commendation) under the supervision of the Chair. This will take several drafts over many months. This will often take place during the fall and spring semesters of the senior year. The student and the Chair should work closely together for the duration of the project.  
  4. For the Honors Designation only: After the research project is completed to the satisfaction of the Chair, the student will give the document to the Committee member and arrange a defense date (the defense and the oral presentation described in point 7 can be the same). The committee member should have two weeks to read the document before the defense date. The defense involves a short oral presentation (10-15 minutes) by the student, questions from the committee, and a decision by the committee about whether or not the project qualifies the student to graduate with Honors in Psychology. This typically happens toward the end of the spring semester. The Chair and Committee member will discuss whether there are changes to be made in the paper (there always are), and then the student will work with the Chair to make these changes before Finals week.  
  5. When the final document is approved by the Chair, the student will get an “Honors/Commendation Cover Page” from the Psychology Department main office and will obtain all necessary signatures. The student will turn in this form along with a final copy of their paper to the department office by the Wednesday of Finals week (during the semester in which the student is graduating). 
  6. The student will email the Coordinator (Dr. Harton) that the project has been approved and is complete by the Wednesday of Finals week. 
  7. Finally, the student must present the research in some public setting. Students seeking the Honors Designation must complete an oral presentation, and those seeking a Commendation Designation can either do a poster or oral presentation. This can happen at the UNI INSPIRE Research Conference, at a professional conference (e.g., the Midwest Psychological Association conference), or as part of UNI Honors Research Day. 

For further information on the Psychology Honors and Psychology Commendation Designations, please contact the Coordinator, Dr. Helen Harton.