Research Capstone in Psychology

Spring 2016 quarter

Taught by


Students should have familiarity with empirical research methods in the social sciences, quantitative or qualitative analysis, and study design; previous study (two or more programs preferred) in at least one or more interdisciplinary social science programs (psychology, sociology, political science, or anthropology); and a preliminary plan for research topic. Most importantly, students should be academically, intellectually, and emotionally prepared for conducting an independent research project with other students who are similarly prepared. Students who apply to participate in this program should take their intellectual life seriously, be prepared for critical thinking, and be able to engage in constructive collaboration with other students.

This program is designed to provide a capstone opportunity for seniors within psychology or closely related social science disciplines (sociology, anthropology) to conduct independent research projects within a supportive intellectual environment of other researchers. Research projects may be inductive or deductive in their approach, and may utilize qualitative or quantitative methodology. Research may be aimed at testing a well-established theory, replicating a study, crafting an elegant psychological experiment, designing and executing a written survey, conducting interviews, or engaging in observational ethnographic research. 

Students will form research groups within the program based on shared research interests (or methodological interests or theoretical interests). Faculty will provide structured support to these learning communities across all aspects of the research process. Students entering this capstone program should do so with a particular research project in mind, although faculty will work one-on-one with students to help shape the nature of their project in both practical and theoretically meaningful ways.

Students will attend the annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association (WPA) in Long Beach, CA, from April 28-May 1, 2016. This field trip will provide direct exposure to researchers in psychology, enabling students to talk with other researchers (many of whom are undergraduate or graduate students), find out about the latest trends in research psychology, and be intellectually stimulated by poster sessions, panel presentations, and talks by well-known scholars in the field.

Students who successfully complete this capstone program will have collected, analyzed, and written up their findings by the end of the spring 2016 quarter. This program is timed to correspond with the November 2016 deadline to apply to present research findings at WPA the following spring of 2017. Those who wish to continue their project work past the end of the quarter in order to prepare their work for conference submission or even publication in an academic journal may inquire about developing an Independent Learning Contract with the faculty in the summer of 2016.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in


Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.

Required Fees

$265 for costs associated with attending the Western Psychological Association conference in Long Beach, CA, from April 28-May 1, 2016 (membership, registration, and lodging), research project equipment and supplies for conducting primary research projects with human subjects, and entrance fees (not related to attending the WPA conference).

Special Expenses

Students will need to purchase their own round trip airfare to Long Beach, CA (approximately $200-$250), and 3-4 days of meals during the Western Psychological Association conference.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Senior ONLY

Maximum enrollment: 25


Signature Required

Students must fill out an assessment form designed to demonstrate level of preparation for a capstone project in research psychology (see prerequisites). This form is available online ( ); please submit the completed form to Laura Citrin via faculty mailbox (Sem II A2117) before the winter 2016 Academic Fair or bring it with you to the Fair.

Course Reference Number

Sr (16 credits): 30115

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