This resource lays out a comprehensive overview of what exactly a capstone project is and how this project will play into your graduate school experience.
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In order to successfully finish graduate school, most master’s programs require students to either write a thesis or complete a capstone project. A capstone project serves as another way to prove your understanding of a given subject, but unlike a thesis, you can prove your skills through solutions or new ideas instead of pure analysis.
What is the Purpose of a Capstone Project?
A capstone project is designed to push you to think critically and apply what you’ve learned through your graduate program. It allows you to show the faculty of the department what you’ve learned throughout the program. It also allows the faculty to ensure that you're prepared to enter your chosen careers.
What sets a capstone project apart from just an exam is its real-world application. Rather than just proving you understand the subject matter, a capstone project requires you to apply the knowledge and experience in a way similar to how you would in your career. By integrating basic research skills and practical experience, you can also end up showcasing a competitive portfolio to future employers.
Additional Resource: 5 Topics for a Master’s in Communication Capstone Project
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How Long Does it Take to Complete a Capstone Project?
Although this will vary from school to school, generally a capstone project will be as short as a 10-week quarter to as long as two semesters depending on the rigor and requirements of the graduate program. However, it is common for most graduate programs to require students to take a capstone project course that generally only lasts around a semester.
If you are currently enrolled in a graduate program and you have the option of completing a capstone project, it is best that you start formulating an idea of what you would like to investigate. Waiting to the very last minute to study a particular problem or issue in relation to your graduate program can derail your capstone project. You would need to have a sufficient amount of previous research in order to complete a capstone project proposal.
Which programs usually require capstone projects?
Typically, it is very common for master's programs in social services, public administration, mass communications, and liberal arts to require graduate students to complete a capstone project. This is because these programs are usually geared towards working professionals and capstone projects give students the ability to take knowledge and theory they have learned and apply in a real-world setting.
Additional Resource:Writing a Graduate Capstone Project
Prerequisites for a capstone project?
Before an individual can complete a capstone project, one must take a series of undergraduate or graduate courses that will give one the theoretical and skills-based knowledge necessary in order to formulate an idea for a capstone proposal. Classes that usually are required before taking a capstone course usually center around research statistics, ethics, program theory, leadership and other relevant courses based on the master's program. Also, many programs have a GPA requirement before actually completing a capstone course.
Before a student can actually take capstone course to begin implementing their capstone project, many students would need to come up with a comprehensive proposal that will be reviewed by a professor or instructor. This proposal usually contains an introduction, theories, hypotheses, scholarly literature review, research methods, proposal alternatives and any other issues relevant to the project proposal. Each capstone requirement is unique to the student's program, so it is best that a student continuously consult with a program advisor to make sure their capstone proposal meets the necessary requirements.
Different types of Capstone Projects
There are a variety of capstone projects. Some include case studies, program evaluations, outcomes-based evaluations, surveys, focus groups, etc. Each master's program has a different set of capstone projects that students can complete for graduation. Nonetheless, case studies and program evaluations tend to be the most popular forms of capstone projects completed by students.
Erin Gobler is a freelance writer who covers education topics for Best Value Schools, Graduate School Hub, and Criminal Justice Degree Schools, among others. Her work has been published on sites like Fox Business, Rocket Mortgage, and The Balance.
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A capstone project is designed to push you to think critically and apply what you've learned through your graduate program. It allows you to show the faculty of the department what you've learned throughout the program. It also allows the faculty to ensure that you're prepared to enter your chosen careers.What is a capstone paper in graduate school? ›
A capstone project is typically a final project that allows students to showcase the knowledge and skills they have gained throughout their academic program and apply them to real-world problems and issues.What is a capstone project at GCU? ›
Specifically, capstones involve demonstrating knowledge and skill in applying concepts and principles learned in their program of study in the form of an end of program project.Do all masters degrees require a capstone? ›
Despite what you might think, not all colleges require that grad students take a capstone course or complete a project while enrolled in a graduate program. Your college may require that you do fieldwork and complete a portfolio in lieu of this project.How long is a capstone project in graduate school? ›
How Long Does a Capstone Project Usually Take to Complete? This will vary from program to program and can be as few as 10 weeks to as many as two semesters depending on the requirements of the program. It is most common for graduate programs to require a capstone project course that lasts for one semester.Is a Masters capstone hard? ›
The Capstone Project
This project can be challenging and rewarding since it may require extensive knowledge of the specific field of study.
Taking on a big, longer-term academic or professional project can be very challenging. So when you complete a capstone project, it can provide a confidence boost by demonstrating to yourself, your peers and your professors what you're capable of accomplishing in your field of study.What is an example of a capstone project? ›
Senior High School Capstone Project Topic Examples
Track your own school schedule and document its impact on your social and personal development. Gender inequality in sports. Tell the story of how you or a friend has been affected by gender discrimination in sports.
The AP Capstone Diploma is increasingly recognized in admissions by higher education institutions around the world. Many colleges and universities offer credit and/or placement for a qualifying score in AP Seminar, AP Research, or both.Is a capstone easier than a thesis? ›
Thesis and capstone projects synthesize your overall learning, taking the knowledge you've gained throughout your program and applying it to your own research. A thesis, which often requires more intensive research than a capstone, may span multiple years depending on the level of the psychology program.
A capstone project is designed to push you to think critically and apply what you've learned through your graduate program. It allows you to show the faculty of the department what you've learned throughout the program. It also allows the faculty to ensure that you're prepared to enter your chosen careers.What is the difference between a master's thesis and a capstone project? ›
They both follow a similar basic format and represent a scholarly effort of high quality. However, practice-based programs can use a capstone project to emphasize preparation of the student for professional practice. In contrast, a thesis is an academic-focused research project with broader applicability.How many pages is a master's capstone? ›
In most cases, the capstone project will be an interdisciplinary study of approximately 25-35 pages in length that demonstrates graduate level research and writing skills.Do capstone projects count as experience? ›
Internships provide students with hands-on experience in a specific field or industry, while capstone projects are a culminating experience that allows students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout their degree program.How many pages is a Masters capstone? ›
Average Length of a Capstone Project
However, most capstone projects are generally around 20-50 pages long when written as a research paper. For the undergraduate level, a capstone project is usually around 20-30 pages long, while graduate-level capstone projects tend to be longer, around 30-50 pages.
Thesis and capstone projects synthesize your overall learning, taking the knowledge you've gained throughout your program and applying it to your own research. A thesis, which often requires more intensive research than a capstone, may span multiple years depending on the level of the psychology program.How long is a master's capstone paper? ›
In most cases, the capstone project will be an interdisciplinary study of approximately 25-35 pages in length that demonstrates graduate level research and writing skills. The topic should be selected in consultation with the MALS Writing Mentor and a faculty advisor.What is the purpose of a capstone paper? ›
What is the Purpose of a Capstone Project? The capstone project is designed to consolidate last year's students learning with significant hands-on experience to assist with forming them into well-ready and well-rounded graduates.Is a capstone paper the same as a thesis? ›
They both follow a similar basic format and represent a scholarly effort of high quality. However, practice-based programs can use a capstone project to emphasize preparation of the student for professional practice. In contrast, a thesis is an academic-focused research project with broader applicability.