Distinction in Psychology

Distinction in Psychology is an honor that a small number of majors each year receive for having performed exceptionally well in the major. Excellence should be demonstrated beyond the minimum requirements of the major (i.e., coursework), and is evidenced by submission of a portfolio highlighting their own development and performance as a student of psychology, engagement in significant academic activities and related experiences (e.g., research or internship experiences), and a poster presentation at the end of the year in which they share their research, internship experiences, or other significant academic activities and professional experiences.


In January, the Psychology Department will invite senior psychology majors who have strongly distinguished themselves through their coursework to apply for distinction. This invitation will be sent to all seniors who have a minimum Psychology GPA of 3.70 by the end of the Fall term and have completed at least 8 courses in the psychology major, including at least one course from each of the natural science and social science aspects of psychology.

Eligible students who would like to be considered for Distinction will be asked to submit a Distinction Portfolio to Darla Frandrup, Psychology AAA, by March 1. The Distinction Portfolio should include the following three documents:

(1)  Degree Audit

(2)  Curriculum Vitae, which includes their psychology-related experiences and achievements

(3)  Candidate Statement integrating and highlighting their meaningful psychology experiences and achievements, including the experience they plan to present in a poster symposium during spring semester (e.g.,at the Minnesota Undergraduate Psychology Conference, or Honors Day Symposium)

After reviewing the Distinction Portfolios, the Psychology Faculty will deliberate. Students will be notified about the awarding of Distinction in early April.


(1)  Degree Audit

Degree audits will be kept confidential and viewed only by departmental faculty and staff to determine whether the academic requirements (i.e., minimum GPA and courses from both the natural science and social science aspects of psychology) of Distinction have been met.

(2)  Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Students’ CVs should summarize their scholarly and professional experiences, accomplishments, and honors. Unlike a standard resume (which is very brief), CVs should be more detailed, including information about students’ education, honors/awards, research experiences, teaching, clinical, and internship/volunteer experiences, conference and symposia presentations, publications, and membership in professional organizations. See the following links for guidance on constructing a strong CV:

APS: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/members/apssc/undergraduate_update/undergraduate-update-summer-2013/how-to-write-a-strong-cv

Psi Chi: http://www.psichi.org/?092EyeWin05dLandrum#.WaCFC3qvh5Y

APA:  http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2015/01/curriculum-vitae.aspx

Students’ CVs, in combination with their Candidate Statements (see #3 below), will be used to assess the extent and depth of involvement to date in psychology.


This statement is an opportunity for students to reflect on their own path in psychology — past, present, and/or future. It should highlight and integrate meaningful psychology-related experiences and achievements referenced in their CV but should not simply reiterate them in prose form. The statement should demonstrate intellectual engagement with psychology and be thoughtful and reflective. The statement should also include and describe the significant project, activity, or experience they plan to present in a poster symposium during spring semester (e.g., Minnesota Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Honors Day Symposium). Examples of such meaningful experiences include projects conducted for Independent Research (IR), Directed Undergraduate Research (DUR), Center for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR), Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI), psychological research conducted at another institution, community projects, and Psychology Internships. The statement should be approximately 2-3 double-spaced pages (no more than 750 words).