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School of Education, Health and Human Behavior
School of Education, Health and Human Behavior
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Undergraduate Program: Senior Assignment and URCA Information

URCA is a program designed to help undergraduate students get involved in research and creative activities in two ways - as an URCA Research Associate or as an URCA Research Assistant. Associates apply to work with a faculty mentor on a study that the student researches and designs. In the Department of Psychology, this can count as a student's Capstone (Senior Assignment) experience (see below for more information). Assistants apply to work in faculty laboratories and will work on faculty-led projects. Research Assistant positions can not count as a Capstone experience. For more information, including URCA requirements, please visit

URCA gives students with an opportunity to:

  • Gain in-depth research or creative activity experience
  • Develop a close and working relationship with a faculty member
  • Design and work on a research project not available in their courses
  • Reinforce and challenge their research and creative abilities

URCA Research Associates in the Department of Psychology will receive:

  • 3 hours of course credit in PSYC 491
  • $500 toward project expenses
  • $2400 stipend for the academic year
  • $400 in conference presentation travel
  • URCA Research Associate distinction on their transcripts
  • Training in resume building, writing cover letters, the graduate school application process, poster design and construction, presentation skills

URCA Research Assistants in the Department of Psychology will receive:

  • 3 hours of course credit in PSYC 491
  • In addition, some may receive a $1000 award (faculty across the university compete to have positions that are awarded; not all URCA Research Assistant positions will be awarded)

Counting an URCA Research Associate Project as a Senior Assignment Project

Please note that the following guidelines are only in regards to having URCA count towards senior assignment in the Psychology Department. It is the responsibility of the student to understand and meet all URCA requirements. For more information, please visit

Regular Capstone:

  • URCA can ONLY count towards senior assignment if the project is (successfully) completed during your senior year (i.e., the 491 where you actually do your project can only happen AFTER you've accumulated 90 hours of course credit, have passed both 220/221, and are of senior status). Although sophomores can apply for URCA Research Associate positions, in order for it to count as Senior Assignment, you must apply during the spring of your junior year so you can conduct and successfully complete your study during your senior year.
  • URCA is not a given; you must apply. If you apply and are denied (or do not successfully complete it), you must take the traditional Capstone course (you should register for one just in case, and then drop it if you get accepted to URCA). In addition, the project must represent a field of psychology and must be mentored by a psychology department faculty member.
  • If you're interested, you must decide on a project and then find a faculty member who is willing to be your URCA mentor - the two of you will work to develop a proposal - this will take some time, and it is recommended you start early in your junior year.
  • Proposals are due each mid-March; they consist of an in-depth literature review, hypotheses, proposed methodology, timeline, references, budget, etc.
  • NOTE: the application proposal is NOT the same as the intro/methods of your final paper. Your final paper will build off the proposal and will be a larger document that complies with all Senior Assignment Paper guidelines in terms of length, number of references, APA style, etc.
  • URCA decisions are made towards the end of April
  • If you are accepted, Dr. Brown needs to know immediately so she can notify the undergraduate advisor to waive the Capstone requirement for you and also provide a completion letter after you have been evaluated.
  • Accepted students typically start actually working on their project in the fall, and continue until the spring
  • The URCA research project requires work for 2 consecutive semesters (the fall and spring semesters). If accepted, you will sign up for 3 credit hours of PSYC 491 during the fall semester. You may also take an additional 3 credit hours of this in the spring, but it is not required. You cannot apply previously accrued PSYC 491 hours to your URCA hours.
  • The URCA culminating experience is the Symposium at the end of the senior year. In order for the project to count towards the Psychology Department's SRA, students must be evaluated (using the department's SRA criteria) by both their URCA mentor and an additional faculty member (most often Dr. McKenney, given her involvement in URCA) at the Symposium. In the odd case that both faculty members cannot be in attendance at the Symposium, alternate arrangements for this evaluation will need to be made. (Honor's students - see below for your requirements)
  • In order for the project to count as "passing" SRA, the student must a) successfully meet all the requirements of the URCA; b) earn a grade of C or higher in all PSYC 491 URCA hours AND; c) earn a mean score of 4 or above on the department criteria (i.e., you must meet the same passing criteria as our regular Capstone students). If you do not pass, in order to graduate, you will be required to retake a Capstone experience (either another URCA or a regular Capstone class) until you do pass.
  • URCA students will be considered for funding for the MPA conference in the same way our other Capstone students are.

Honors Capstone - Additional Issues

Students who are members of the Honors Academy: the above requirements will apply to you. Listed below are additional issues that will pertain to you.

Honors students must take 491, 493, the honors section of Capstone Seminar in Psychology (PSYC 494), do an independent thesis, and do a "pre-proposal" project (contract). This will require:

  • 491 - Honors students will take 3 hours of PSYC 491 in the fall as their URCA research credit hours.
  • 493 - required.
  • Independent thesis - required, but it will be the URCA Research Associate project. In addition to the URCA application proposal, Honors students will also be required to do an additional proposal of their full introduction and methods (see notes above) before their honors committee during the fall semester of the senior year. Honors students will also be required to do a formal defense of the project before their committee in addition to the URCA Symposium.
  • Pre-proposal/Contract completed in an earlier class - the URCA proposal submission will count for this for Honor's students. You do not have to do this through a formal class, but rather informally with your URCA mentor.
  • Honors capstone class (PSYC 494) - required in fall of senior year.

Visit or email Dr. Laura Pawlow for more information.

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