Honours Program

Students who wish to enter into the Honours program require approval of both the Psychology and Neuroscience Department and the Registrar (see the Calendar for a full description of university regulations governing Honours programs). Students who have graduated from Dalhousie with a BA or BSc (15 or 20 credit) may return for an additional year to obtain an Honours Certificate. Admission requirements are the same as those listed for Honours students. If you want to have more information, you can contact either a Psychology or Neuroscience Honours advisor to make an appointment.

We have made temporary changes to the application process for 2021. Recent approved changes to honours for next year will lead to a wider range of potential projects and therefore, this may lead to increased capacity for some honours supervisors. Please reconnect with faculty that you have already contacted to see if they have more capacity. Also, be advised that some faculty are not able to estimate their capacity for taking honours students until the summer. Thus, we will begin accepting honours applications on May 5 and will continue throughout the summer.

The University has a set of requirements for ALL students completing Honours degrees in a BA or BSc program. To see the University-level requirements, please consult the Academic Calendar.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS (click here to download the pdf [274 KB])

When do I apply to Honours?

There are two steps for applying to honours; STEP 1 is the Departmental application and STEP 2 is the  Registrar’s Office application.

STEP 1. You first apply to the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience for admission to the Honours program. This can occur at three points: early March of the student’s third year (‘early’ application) or the summer after students’ third year (‘late’ applications considered on June 1 and August 1 of each year). ‘Late’ applications are typically submitted because students do not meet the admission requirements for early admission, or they have a delay in finding a supervisor or they make a late decision to take Honours. Please note that the requirements are stricter for late admission. The timepoint of application affects the number of courses being included in the calculation of eligibility. There is no ‘cap’ to the number of students admitted—the number in the program is only limited by the ability to find a supervisor.

STEP 2. After being admitted to the dep’tal program, the instructors for the Honours class will help with the Honours application form for the Registrar—this will be done in September of the Honours year.

How is admission into the program calculated?

  • All students need a supervisor to agree to supervise their Honours (and sign the departmental application form) in order to apply.
  • All students need a B in NESC/PSYO 2000 (Note: B+ will be required for students who started at Dal in Fall 2019 or later)
  • Early admission requires:
        o    an A- average in the last six (not counting 1000-level or NESC/PSYO 2000)
             psychology/neuroscience courses
  • Late admission: Students with Psychology or Neuroscience as a Concentrated Honours require:
        o   an A- average in the last nine (not counting 1000-level or NESC/PSYO 2000)
             psychology/neuroscience courses
  • Late admission: Students doing a Combined Honours with Psychology or Neuroscience as the primary subject) require:
        o   an A- average in the last eight (not counting 1000-level or NESC/PSYO 2000)
             psychology/neuroscience courses
  • Please see below for information on admission for transfer students and for students returning to Dalhousie.

How can I tell if I meet the A- requirement?

Let's take an example of early admission into the Honours program; this requires an A- average and can be figured out simply. Using the table below, an A- is zero. For example, if your last six psychology or neuroscience courses were B+, A-, A, B, A+, A, you would be admitted because (-1) + 0 + 1 + (-2) + 2 + 1 = 1 (assuming of course, that you have a willing and eligible supervisor). A similar process would be used for calculating the last eight or nine courses, as appropriate.

Grade

A+

A

A-

B+

B

B-

C+

C

C-

D

Numerical Conversion

+2

+1

0

-1

-2

-3

-4

-5

-6

-7

Which courses are counted in meeting the A- requirement?

  • Counting backward from the most recent courses taken including spring/summer courses, six PSYO or NESC course are used for the average.
  • A similar process would be used for calculating the last eight or nine courses, as appropriate. Please note that 6.0 credit hour classes (i.e. independent study) will count as 2 of these 6. Summer courses count in all of these calculations.
  • For students with transfer credits, please submit a transcript from the original institution if at all possible.
  • Applications of students who have been on exchange will be considered on a case by case basis.
  • If there is more than one course that can count within the same semester, the course with the higher grade will be used. Note that for Neuroscience students, BIOL 2020 can count in the six courses because it is a required course.

I already completed a degree in Psychology or Neuroscience at Dalhousie. How does my application get assessed?

  • Previous Dalhousie Students (Honours Conversion): Students can apply to complete an Honours conversion after the end of their Dalhousie Psychology/Neuroscience degree. Please note that only courses taken within the last 10 years can be considered towards admission into an Honours conversion. For admission, students require:
        o   an A- average in the last nine (not counting 1000-level or NESC/PSYO 2000)
             psychology/neuroscience courses
        o   a B in NESC/PSYO 2000 (Note: B+ will be required for students who started at Dal in Fall
             2019 or later)
  • All students need a supervisor to agree to supervise their Honours (and sign the departmental application form) in order to apply.

I'm a transfer student. How does my application get assessed?

  • Students transferring from other institutions are required to complete one full year of study at Dalhousie and to accumulate six or more half-credits of 2000/3000-level Dalhousie Psychology/Neuroscience classes before seeking admission to the Honours Program. They must also obtain credit for all Honours prerequisites. Any transfer student should contact an Honours Advisor as soon as possible after arriving at Dalhousie (or before, if possible) to ensure that they have or will have all appropriate/required courses.  It is not possible to complete a degree at another university and simply do an “Honours conversion” at Dalhousie.
  • All students need a supervisor to agree to supervise their Honours (and sign the departmental application form) in order to apply.

What is an Honours degree?

  • Intensive, independent research project
        o    Work under the supervision of professor (or post-doc student) to complete a novel 
              research project. Students design, conduct, collect and analyze data, interpret, and
              write thesis.
        o    Final grade based on originality, skill, writing, and oral presentation (at In-House
              conference)
  • You need to take the Honours class (NESC/PSYO 4501/4502), Two 4000-level seminar classes and an advanced statistics course (3502), in addition to being admitted to the program.

Why might I want to do an Honours degree?

  • Honours is useful for students interested in research. It can help you to better understand the process of scientific research and to gain research skills.
  • Honours can also be useful for those who are interested in gaining transferable skills. You will gain experience in a laboratory setting and acquire research skills. Some of these include learning to manage a project (your Honours), communication (in writing and orally) and collaboration (with others in the lab and your supervisor). All of these are transferable to many other domains both within research and beyond!
  • Honours is also useful for those considering applying to Master or PhD programs. Many Masters programs require Honours, including those in Clinical Psychology

What are other opportunities to gain research experience?

  • Students can complete third year research projects in the department (NESC/PSYO 3100/3101 or NESC/PSYO 3001). These students need to secure a supervisor, just like for Honours. These can be done in either the third or fourth year of study and so they are useful for students in preparing for Honours or for those who do not want to do Honours. To be admitted to this, you need aGrade of B or higher in NESC/PSYO 2000 and an average of B+ or higher in last six (6) NESC/PSYO courses.
  • Summer USRAs. Applications for these are in January of each year. More information is available here. These also require a signature from a supervisor.
  • You can also volunteer in a lab. When considering these opportunities, be clear about what kind of time commitment you can make and what is expected of you, both in terms of time and role.

How do I choose or find a supervisor?

You can begin by thinking about the courses and/or topics that interest you. Those are good indications of your areas of interest. Look through faculty research descriptions, including linking to their websites to try to get a sense of who might be a fit in terms of interests. Please know that the Honours can be a useful learning experience, even if you don’t work on exactly your topic of primary interest. There are many skills, beyond a specific topic area, that you will learn.

How do I contact potential supervisors?

Email faculty letting them know of your interest. It often helps to let faculty know why you’re interested in their area of research. It can also help to attach an unofficial transcript and CV or resume if you have one. This can give them an idea of your background. Ask to meet with them to discuss a possible Honours project; you are welcome to bring your own ideas, but also be open to ideas to join existing projects.

It’s possible that some faculty sometimes might not respond. You can always contact a second time, but you can also contact other potential supervisors, as it might indicate that they are currently not taking on Honours students.

Many students volunteer in labs to gain research experience prior to doing an Honours. This is not required, but it is helpful

When should I contact potential supervisors?

There is no perfect time to contact faculty, though typically earlier is better. For instance, some students volunteer in second year (though this is certainly not required). Typically, students begin to establish connections with potential supervisors early in their 3rd year (Sept-Oct). However, sometimes supervisors won’t have a good sense of their lab capacity or ongoing projects until later (e.g., January). COVID-19 restrictions have increased this uncertainty for many supervisors, so, while it’s still recommended to reach out early, expect that faculty may not be able to provide a definitive response and may advise you to follow up later in the fall term or early in the winter term.

Which labs are open?

Many students are wondering how COVID-19 restrictions are affecting research at Dalhousie. At any given point, some labs may be ‘closed’, but this does not mean that all research has stopped. It simply means that the physical space of the lab is under restricted use. You should still reach out to faculty whose research interests overlap with yours.

Who can be a supervisor?

Core faculty in the department can be supervisors. See the link here. https://www.dal.ca/faculty/science/psychology_neuroscience/faculty-staff.html

In addition to faculty members in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, other faculty across the Dalhousie campus and affiliated with the hospitals may be eligible to supervise Honours students; these faculty are listed in the adjunct and cross-appointed lists on the departmental website. If you are unsure of the eligibility for acting as an Honours supervisor, the onus is on you to contact an Honours Advisor to ask. In some cases, faculty from other departments or centers may be eligible, but there may be the need for oversight by someone internal to the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience. This is at the discretion of the Honours Advisor.

Please note that having secured a willing and eligible supervisor does not guarantee admission into the program.

 

Learn More

Interested in a 20-Credit BSc degree with a Major or an Honours in either Neuroscience or Psychology? Our student guidebooks detail all you need to know about program requirements. 

Are you an incoming student wanting to know what to expect from Psychology and Neuroscience? Our Programs at a Glance pages provide an overview of each - including year-by-year course selection and possible career opportunities.