Honours FAQs

Honours is a two-year program that provides advanced training in psychological research to outstanding students who intend to pursue PhD level graduate studies in Psychology.

The Honours program is designed specifically for Psychology Majors who are interested in conducting psychological research and who plan to pursue a research-oriented PhD in Psychology or a related scientific field.

Students who fit this profile – and who meet the high standards for admission into the Honours program – benefit from additional coursework that is required of Honours students (e.g., a course on advanced research methods and statistics), as well as from the research projects that Honours students conduct under faculty supervision during their third and fourth years. There are many high-achieving Psychology majors who do not fit this profile. For example, many excellent students choose not to pursue graduate studies. Other excellent students pursue MA degrees in counselling, marketing, or other applied disciplines that are much less research-intensive. The Honours program is not designed to serve the career goals of these students.

The additional requirements of Honours students fall into two categories: (1) some specialized coursework, and 2) a lot of research.

  1. All Honours students are required to take four courses that are directed specifically toward Honours students: PSYC 312 (History of Psychology), PSYC 359 (Advanced Research Methods), PSYC 349 (Honours Seminar, Third Year) and PSYC 449 (Honours Seminar, Fourth Year). There are also some additional Honours requirements pertaining to the specialized coursework, upper-level courses, and that sort of thing. These additional requirements vary depending on whether a student is getting a BA or a BSc degree. (For instance, a regular BA degree requires that students take at least 30 credits of upper-level Psychology courses, whereas BA students in the Honours program are required to take at least 48 upper-level Psychology credits.) Complete details on these additional course requirements can be found in the UBC Calendar, where it lists degree requirements in Psychology.
  2. These additional course requirements capture only one small part of what distinguishes the education of Honours students from that of other Psychology majors. The biggest distinction lies in the fact that Honours students conduct research projects under faculty supervision during both their Third and Fourth years. Each year, Honours students are expected to seek out faculty members as potential supervisors, and to make arrangements to conduct research under a faculty member's supervision. Honours students not only conduct research within the context of a faculty member's lab, they also discuss their own and others' research in the regular meetings of the Honours Seminar class. Honours students are also expected to present their research at the end of the academic year, during the Psychology Department's annual Undergraduate Research Conference.

BA Honours students are not required to take 30 credits during the Winter Session in which they are enrolled in either PSYC 349 or PSYC 449. Also note that the six credit honours seminar is only offered in the Winter Session.

BSc Honours Students must follow the Faculty of Science policy, which requires Honours students to register in a minimum of 30 credits in every Winter Session.

Admission to the Honours program is highly competitive and a maximum of 30 incoming Third-Year students are admitted into the Honours program each year. In order to be considered for admission, a student must meet several minimum requirements: (1) Honours students must have attained a minimum 76% average over all their courses in the Second year and (2) must have attained a minimum of 80%  in both PSYC 217 and 218 (BA Majors) or PSYC 277 and PSYC 278 (BSc Majors). These minimum standards are specified in the UBC Academic Calendar.

Students failing to meet either of these criteria may apply to the program, but they should be aware that it is only under exceptional circumstances that they might be admitted.These circumstances include transferring into UBC with equivalent grade averages in equivalent courses or being able to document exceptional life circumstances that demonstrate equivalent competency.

Bear in mind that these are minimum standards and not every student who meets them will be admitted into the Honours program. Admission decisions will be based on students' overall record of academic excellence (e.g., their grades), as well as on other information attesting to the students’ aptitude for meeting the objectives of the Honours program (e.g., involvement in research).

Students who wish to be considered for admission to the Honours program typically apply during the second half of their second year. So, if you're going to be a third-year student starting in September of the next academic year, you should consider applying to the Honours program soon after completing your December exams of the current academic year.

Students must have already taken (or be currently enrolled in) PSYC 217 and PSYC 218 (or their equivalent at another institution) before applying. Admission decisions will await posting of grades for the spring term.

Interviews will take place during May and June. For students transferring into UBC from other colleges and universities, this review process occurs in June, and takes place only after the applicant has already been formally admitted to UBC. Applicants must complete an interview with the Honours Admissions Committee, which can be in-person or through video chat. These interviews permit the Honours Admissions Committee to clarify information that was not clear in the application, and, most importantly, they permit applicants to ask questions about the Honours program to help them decide if the program is a good fit for their educational goals and life circumstances.

We have a later deadline for transfer students because we realize you cannot apply to the Honours program until you are officially accepted as a UBC student. Each year, several of the available 30 slots are held open until applications from transfer students are reviewed.

Honours is a two-year program, so interested students must be willing to complete a minimum of two additional years before graduating. Therefore, you may still be able to apply in you third year, but it will likely extend your degree to 5 years, instead of 4.

You could. However, please note that the Psychology Department offers many ways of obtaining the research skills and experiences that the Honours program provides, regardless of whether or not you are in the program. With this in mind, it may not be worth it to extend your degree an extra year.

Yes, arrangements can be made with prior discussion the departmental Honours committee. To successfully complete the Honours program, a student needs to be physically be on campus from September through April for two years due to the required psychological research and 6-credit Honours Seminars. Incoming Honours students may not defer their acceptance and are expected to register in PSYC 349 for the Winter session they are admitted into. Interested students should contact the Arts Co-op Program to see what options are available that allow for the rigorous Honours schedule.

First of all, don't take it personally. The fact that our Honours program is a full two-year program means that not everyone who wants to do it can do it. And the fact that we admit only 30 new Honours students each year means that, regrettably, there are many talented students who seek admission but cannot be admitted to the program.
Second, don’t be misled by the common perception that an "Honours" degree is absolutely essential for any student who wishes to go to graduate school. It simply isn't so. (No more than 30 UBC Psychology majors graduate with Honours each year, but many more than that apply successfully to graduate school.) Some graduate programs do explicitly state that only students with Honours degrees will be considered for graduate admission. But most universities observe no such exclusive rule. Many graduate programs explicitly state that they recommend that applicants have an Honours or equivalent degree. Words like "recommend" (rather than require) and "equivalent" provide graduate programs considerable latitude in evaluating the quality of a student's application based upon its actual merits (grade point average, GRE scores, research experience, etc.) rather than a simple label applied to the degree. So, while it's true that participation in our Honours program does provide students with the opportunity to become successful applicants to research-oriented graduate programs, these students will not be successful simply because they have an Honours degree. Rather, they will be successful because of the valuable research training and experience they attained while in the Honours program.
In addition to our Honours program, the Psychology Department also provides other means of obtaining the kinds of intensive hands-on research experience that is valued by graduate programs in Psychology and related fields. For example, our department offers "Directed Studies" courses (PSYC 340, 348, 440, 448), which are designed specifically to give interested students an opportunity to do research under faculty supervision, and to earn course credit for doing so. While only a small handful of Psychology Majors are admitted into the Honours program, a much larger number of Psychology Majors receive similar kinds of hands-on research experience through their participation in Directed Studies. These students too receive excellent preparation for their applications to graduate programs in Psychology and related fields.


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