More than a degree: Chats with psychology honours students

A Psych Honours student presenting research during an Honours seminar class.

The Psychology Honours program offers students a place for exploration and innovation

Large university classes can be a struggle for some students; it’s not easy to create connections in a crowd of hundreds. More so, psychology is the most popular undergraduate major at UBC with 2,000 students working towards their BA or BSc degrees each year. So, the concern for many students pursuing psychology becomes: How do I set myself apart? Are there opportunities for me to get hands-on research skills? The Honours program takes on these questions and more.

The Honours program is a two-year undergraduate program for students interested in exploring psychology research. Students apply in their 2nd year and start the program in their 3rd year. It is a small cohort — around 30 students per year. This smaller class size allows students to work closely with each other and alongside psychology faculty in the department. Each year, students will connect with faculty researchers, design a unique research question, and ultimately present their findings at the annual Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference (PURC).

Dr. Lawrence Walker, honours academic advisor and professor in the department of psychology, describes the Honours program as an engaged and community-driven approach to learning about psychological research.

“Rather than mere sponges in lectures, students get to be producers.”
Professor, UBC Psychology

It is the opportunity to lead their own research project that rounds out the Psych Honours experience. Walker explains that on top of learning the ropes around conducting psychology research, students become makers of knowledge in the field. “Rather than mere sponges in lectures, students get to be the producers” says Walker.

Collaboration and comradery

One of the stand out points of the program is its tight-knit cohort nature. Catherine Li, a current 4th year student in the Psych Honours program, talks about the strong support system that evolves between her and her peers.

“You will get to support and help each other along the way as you face similar challenges.”
4th Year Psychology Student

A dive into psychological research

Ping Tomczyk, a 2017 graduate from the Psych Honours program, looks back at his entry into the program as a stepping stone into research. It provided him a space to explore his interests and to take on new perspectives and ideas.

“I wanted something more than just an ordinary Psychology major.”
Psychology Alumnus


For Walker, who is also the dedicated instructor for the Psych Honours seminar (PSYC 349 and PSYC 449), the most exciting thing about the program has been seeing the immense growth of his students. From the start of the program to the end of their degree, he is always amazed by the level of excellence and confidence that students gain during their time with the program.

If you are curious about pursuing research or looking to expand your psychology skill set, the Psychology Honours program is the place for you.

Applications open for the BA and BSc Psychology Honours program in March 2019.


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