Psychology 195: Senior Thesis

A senior thesis project is a major independent research project carried out under the supervision of a UCSC Psychology Faculty Member (faculty sponsor). Completing a senior thesis project typically takes about one year. At the end of that year, students submit a copy of their thesis to the Psychology Undergraduate Office, their faculty sponsor and a second reader, who is also a UCSC faculty member.

Students interested in doing a thesis project should follow these steps:

    1. Speak with your potential faculty sponsor about proposing a senior thesis project (keep in mind that faculty members are unlikely to sponsor projects that are outside their area of expertise). In some cases, students bring an idea for a senior thesis to their potential faculty sponsor. In many other cases, however, students develop ideas for a senior thesis project in collaboration with a faculty member they already know, typically from working in a lab. Start the conversation about your senior thesis project no less than a year before you intend to graduate (typically spring of your junior year).
    2. Discuss expectations with your potential faculty sponsor. Sponsors may expect you to have completed some coursework or gained other expertise, before starting or completing your thesis project. You should also ask for their specific guidelines regarding your thesis proposal (e.g. content, length, formatting) prior to writing it.
    3. Draft a title and proposal. Once you have secured a faculty sponsor and developed an idea for a thesis project, draft a title and thesis proposal. The proposal should describe the topic, main questions/hypotheses, and if appropriate, the proposed research methods. Proposals are typically 1-2 pages, but you should adhere to the guidelines provided by your faculty sponsor.
    4. Find a second reader. Your second reader may be a faculty member from the Psychology Department or another UCSC department. In some cases, your faculty sponsor may suggest another faculty member who can serve as a second reader for your thesis. 
    5. Complete the Senior Thesis Application via DocuSign. The application will require you to supply the following information: names and emails of your faculty sponsor and second reader, the specific quarters in which you’d like to enroll in PSYC 195 Senior Thesis, the tentative title of your thesis and a description of your relevant skills, experience and coursework (either already completed or that you expect to complete prior to submitting your thesis). You will also be required to attach copies of your most recent transcript and your thesis proposal--recommended formats for these attachments are Adobe (PDF) and Word (DOCX). Note: The Psychology Undergraduate Office will automatically receive a copy of your application and submitted documents for record-keeping purposes.
    6. Enroll in PSYC 195 Senior Thesis. Once all parties have e-signed the application, you will receive a class number which will allow you to enroll in the course. This number can be found in the completed form you receive from DocuSign. Note: For each subsequent quarter in which you plan to work on your thesis, you will need to obtain a class number from the Psychology Undergraduate Office ( Please email to request this in advance of your scheduled enrollment appointment.
    7. Set a due date. Early in the final quarter of the thesis project, ask your faculty sponsor and second reader when they would need to receive an electronic copy of the thesis in order to read and approve it prior to the grade deadline. 
    8. Submit your finished project. Email your thesis to your faculty sponsor, second reader and the Psychology Undergraduate Office ( by the agreed-upon date. 
    9. Complete your Thesis Signature Page via DocuSign to obtain approval signatures. The cover page will require you to supply the following information: the names and emails of your faculty sponsor and second reader, the title of your thesis, your full name and the quarter in which you are submitting the thesis (e.g. Spring 2024).
    10. CELEBRATE!