No. Your senior essay is usually just the paper you have written for credit in one of your 400-level courses (or sometimes a combination of the two papers you wrote for each of your 400-level courses). Seniors seeking distinction in the major do not have to write an extra paper.
It can count as one of the two 400-level courses to be taken for senior requirements.
There are no restrictions in research format for students seeking a BA. For a BA degree with Distinction, the senior essay can be a literature review or empirical study.
All rising seniors may pre-register for a senior seminar for their senior year. However, if there is a shortage of slots available for senior seminars, priority will be given to students who need a senior seminar in order to fulfill their senior requirement.
Yes, you can fulfill one or both of senior requirements using senior seminars, unless you are pursuing BS degree. (Note that we can pre-register you for only one seminar and preregistration for senior seminars takes place at the end of the Junior year.) Possible 400-level senior requirement courses include senior seminars (PSYC 490-489), senior requirement directed research courses (PSYC 493 or 495, which is a half credit), and senior requirement directed research courses (PSYC 499).
Substantial writing means a final paper with a minimum of 5,000 words for a full-credit course (400-489, 499).
Yes. You should start thinking about how to fulfill the senior requirement. In addition, all Juniors must complete a Senior Requirement form by the end of their Junior year. For more information, see Senior Requirement Information.