Go to:

Psychology Research Opportunities


Jessie Birdwhistell ('08) discusses the results of her summer research project on categorical learning at the Denison Summer Research Symposium. The psychology faculty are actively involved in exploring various aspects of human and animal functioning through their own research. An important component of a student's education in the department is direct involvement in psychological research.

Curricular Research

All students participate in empirical research as part of their coursework. There are 14 research courses currently available. The topics for research courses range from infancy and child development to adult development and aging and everything in between. Students in 200 level research courses present the results of one of their projects in a poster symposium at the end of the semester. Students in 300 level research courses present their findings in an oral paper session.

Advanced Research Opportunities

The faculty also welcome students who are interested in conducting research projects outside of 200 and 300 level courses. Opportunities for student research include Summer Research, Senior Research, Directed/Independent Study, and Research Assistantships with specific faculty

  1. Summer Research
    • The Summer Scholars Program permits students to pursue fulltime collaborative work with faculty members, or independent research under the close supervision of faculty members for ten weeks during the summer. This program provides students a unique undergraduate venue in which to experiment with ideas, pursue an intellectual passion, and focus intently on the resolution of a question over a sustained period of time.
    • Students in the Summer Scholar Program earn a stipend ($3,500 in the summer of 2010) and on campus housing during the ten week research interval. They are also awarded a budget to fund their research and present their research at a research symposium.
    • Projects are supported by the Anderson Summer Scholars Program, the Bowen Summer Scholars Program, and the Psychology Department's Sharfstein Memorial Scholarship.
    • Interested students should contact a psychology faculty member in November or December of the year before the summer research begins to discuss projects and the funding application process. Summer funding applications – in which students describe the proposed research in detail are due in late January of the year preceding the proposed summer research. The application requires an approval signature from the faculty member who will serve as the students’ summer research advisor. Funding decisions are made by mid March.
    • In the fall semester after the summer research is conducted, all summer scholar students present their summer projects to the wider Denison community in an on campus poster session. Some students also present their findings at regional, national, or international science conferences. Funding is often available for these off campus conferences.
  2. Senior Research
    • Psychology majors who want to investigate an empirical problem during their final year at Denison can participate in Senior Research (Psychology 451‑452). Senior Research is conducted in collaboration with a faculty committee. In many respects, senior research can be viewed as a culminating experience for the psychology major. Although it is not required, senior research is recommended for psychology majors who are planning to apply to graduate school in the sciences.
    • Typically, a Senior Research project is planned thoroughly during the fall semester and a research proposal is prepared (Psychology 451). Upon approval by a faculty committee, the project is conducted, analyzed, and written‑up during the spring semester (Psychology 452). Students present their findings at a research symposium and dinner held at the end of the academic year.
  3. Directed & Independent Study
    • Students who wish to study a topic in psychology that is not covered in the regular course offerings, or who wish to investigate in greater detail an issue examined in a specific course, may enroll in Directed Study (Psychology 361‑362) or Independent Study (Psychology 363J64). In order to register for Directed or Independent Study, a student must first contact a faculty sponsor who is willing to supervise the work. In some cases, the activity will involve extensive reading on a given topic, a paper(s) describing the results of these readings, and regular meetings with the faculty sponsor. In other cases, the student may design an empirical research project under faculty supervision; the directed or independent study would then entail library research, data collection and analysis, and the preparation of a final research report.
    • The specific nature of any directed or independent study is the result of an agreement reached between the student and the faculty sponsor regarding the requirements of the project. A directed or independent study may be conducted for a semester or for a year
  4. Research & Assistants
    • Individual faculty members are involved in ongoing research programs. Faculty often welcome students to serve as research assistants during various phases of their work. By working closely with faculty on their research, students can gain first‑hand experience about the nature of scientific investigation. In addition, through this collaboration faculty can come to know students' abilities and interests more intimately, and this information is very helpful in writing recommendations for employment opportunities and graduate school.