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Dissertation vs Thesis vs Capstone Project What’s the difference?

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Expert Reviewed By: Dr. Eunice Rautenbach | October 2020

At Grad Coach, we receive questions about dissertation and thesis writing on a daily basis – everything from how to find a good research topic to which research methods to use  and how to analyse the data.

One of the most common questions we receive is “what’s the difference between a dissertation and thesis?” . If you look around online, you’ll find a lot of confusing and often contrasting answers. In this post we’ll clear it up, once and for all…

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what is a thesis or capstone project

Dissertation vs Thesis: Showdown Time

Before comparing dissertations to theses, it’s useful to first understand what both of these are and what they have in common .

Dissertations and theses are both formal academic research projects . In other words, they’re academic projects that involve you undertaking research in a structured, systematic way. The research process typically involves the following steps :

  • Asking a well-articulated and meaningful research question (or questions).
  • Assessing what other researchers have said in relation to that question (this is usually called a literature review – you can learn more about that up here).
  • Undertaking your own research using a clearly justified methodology – this often involves some sort of fieldwork such as interviews or surveys – and lastly,
  • Deriving an answer to your research question based on your analysis.

In other words, theses and dissertations are both formal, structured research projects that involve using a clearly articulated methodology to draw out insights and answers to your research questions . So, in this respect, they are, for the most part, the same thing.

But, how are they different then?

Well, the key difference between a dissertation and a thesis is, for the most part, the level of study – in other words, undergrad, master or PhD. By extension, this also means that the complexity and rigorousness of the research differs between dissertations and theses.

Dissertations and theses are both academic research projects that involve undertaking research in a structured, systematic way.

So, which is which?

This is where it gets a bit confusing. The meaning of dissertation or thesis varies depending on the country or region of study. For example, in the UK, a dissertation is generally a research project that’s completed at the end of a Masters-level degree, whereas a thesis is completed for a Doctoral-level degree.

Conversely, the terminology is flipped around in the US (and some other countries). In other words, a thesis is completed for a Masters-level degree, while a dissertation is completed for PhD (or any other doctoral-level degree).

Simply put, a dissertation and a thesis are essentially the same thing, but at different levels of study . The exact terminology varies from country to country, and sometimes it even varies between universities in the same country. Some universities will also refer to this type of project as a capstone project . In addition, some universities will also require an oral exam or viva voce , especially for doctoral-level projects. 

Given that there are more than 25,000 universities scattered across the globe, all of this terminological complexity can cause some confusion. To be safe, make sure that you thoroughly read the brief provided by your university for your dissertation or thesis, and if possible, visit the university library to have a look at past students’ projects . This will help you get a feel for your institution’s norms and spot any nuances in terms of their specific requirements so that you can give them exactly what they want.

The key difference between a dissertation and a thesis is, for the most part, simply the level of study - i.e. undergrad vs postgrad.

Let’s recap

Dissertations and theses are both formal academic research projects . The main difference is the level of study – undergrad, Masters or PhD. Terminology tends to vary from country to country, and even within countries.

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what is a thesis or capstone project

What Is a Capstone Project vs. Thesis

what is a thesis or capstone project

As students near the end of their academic journey, they encounter a crucial project called the capstone – a culmination of all they've learned. But what exactly is a capstone project? 

This article aims to demystify capstone projects, explaining what they are, why they matter, and what you can expect when you embark on this final academic endeavor.

Capstone Project Meaning

A capstone project is a comprehensive, culminating academic endeavor undertaken by students typically in their final year of study. 

It synthesizes their learning experiences, requiring students to apply the knowledge, skills, and competencies gained throughout their academic journey. A capstone project aims to address a real-world problem or explore a topic of interest in depth. 

As interdisciplinary papers, capstone projects encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. They allow students to showcase their mastery of their field of study and demonstrate their readiness for future academic or professional pursuits.

Now that we’ve defined what is a capstone project, let’s discuss its importance in the academic landscape. In case you have short-form compositions to handle, simply say, ‘ do my essay for me ,’ and our writers will take care of your workload.

Why Is a Capstone Project Important

A capstone project is crucial because it allows students to combine everything they've learned in school and apply it to real-life situations or big problems. 

It's like the ultimate test of what they know and can do. By working on these projects, students get hands-on experience, learn to think critically and figure out how to solve tough problems. 

Plus, it's a chance to show off their skills and prove they're ready for whatever comes next, whether that's starting a career or going on to more schooling.

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What Is the Purpose of a Capstone Project

Here are three key purposes of a capstone project:

What Is the Purpose of a Capstone Project

Integration of Knowledge and Skills

Capstones often require students to draw upon the knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout their academic program. The importance of capstone project lies in helping students synthesize what they have learned and apply it to a real-world problem or project. 

This integration helps students demonstrate their proficiency and readiness for graduation or entry into their chosen profession.

Culmination of Learning

Capstone projects culminate a student's academic journey, allowing them to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. 

tackling a significant project or problem, students demonstrate their understanding of concepts and their ability to translate them into practical solutions, reinforcing their learning journey.

Professional Development

Capstone projects allow students to develop skills relevant to their future careers. These projects can also be tangible examples of their capabilities to potential employers or graduate programs.

Whether it's conducting research, presenting findings, or collaborating with peers, students gain valuable experience that enhances their professional readiness. 

Types of Capstone Projects

Capstones vary widely depending on the academic discipline, institution, and specific program requirements. Here are some common types:

What Is the Difference Between a Thesis and a Capstone Project

Here's a breakdown of the key differences between a thesis and a capstone project:

How to Write a Capstone Project

Let's dive into the specifics with actionable and meaningful steps for writing a capstone project:

1. Select a Pertinent Topic

Identify a topic that aligns with your academic interests, program requirements, and real-world relevance. Consider issues or challenges within your field that merit further exploration or solution. 

Conduct thorough research to ensure the topic is both feasible and significant. Here are some brilliant capstone ideas for your inspiration.

2. Define Clear Objectives

Clearly articulate the objectives of your capstone project. What specific outcomes do you aim to achieve? 

Whether it's solving a problem, answering a research question, or developing a product, ensure your objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

3. Conduct Comprehensive Research

Dive deep into existing literature, theories, and empirical evidence related to your chosen topic. Identify gaps, controversies, or areas for further investigation. 

Synthesize relevant findings and insights to inform the development of your project and provide a solid foundation for your analysis or implementation.

4. Develop a Structured Plan

What is a capstone project in college without a rigid structure? Outline a comprehensive plan for your capstone project, including key milestones, tasks, and deadlines. 

Break down the project into manageable phases, such as literature review, data collection, analysis, and presentation. Establish clear criteria for success and regularly monitor progress to stay on track.

5. Implement Methodological Rigor

If your project involves research, ensure methodological rigor by selecting appropriate research methods, tools, and techniques. 

Develop a detailed research design or project plan that addresses key methodological considerations, such as sampling, data collection, analysis, and validity. Adhere to ethical guidelines and best practices throughout the research process.

6. Analyze and Interpret Findings

Analyze your data or findings using appropriate analytical techniques and tools. Interpret the results in relation to your research questions or objectives, highlighting key patterns, trends, or insights. 

Critically evaluate the significance and implications of your findings within the broader context of your field or industry.

7. Communicate Effectively

Present your capstone project clearly, concisely, and compellingly. Whether it's a written report, presentation, or multimedia deliverable, tailor your communication style to your target audience. Clearly articulate your research questions, methodology, findings, and conclusions. 

Use visuals, examples, and real-world applications to enhance understanding and engagement. Be prepared to defend your project and answer questions from peers, faculty, or stakeholders.

In wrapping up, what is a capstone project? It’s like the grand finale of your academic journey, where all the knowledge and skills you've acquired come together in one big project. 

It's not just about passing a test or getting a grade – it's about proving you've got what it takes to make a real difference in the world. So, if you ever need capstone project help , our writers will gladly lend you a hand in no time.

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  • T. (2023, June 16). What Is a Capstone Project? National University. https://www.nu.edu/blog/what-is-a-capstone-project/
  • Lukins, S. (2024, May 12). What is a capstone project? And why is it important? Top Universities. https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/careers-advice-articles/what-capstone-project-why-it-important
  • Capstone Project vs. Thesis: What’s the Difference? (2021, December 9). UAGC. https://www.uagc.edu/blog/capstone-project-vs-thesis-whats-difference

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Home » Education » What is the Difference Between Capstone and Thesis

What is the Difference Between Capstone and Thesis

The main difference between capstone and thesis is that capstone involves using existing knowledge to solve a problem in a particular field of study, whereas thesis is more scholarly in nature and contribute new knowledge to a particular field of study

Both capstone and thesis serve as the final projects of an academic course. They require a long-term commitment as students will have to spend a lot of time on their research. When done successfully, they can serve as the basis of a student’s professional portfolio.

Key Areas Covered

1.  What is a Capstone       – Definition, Features 2.  What is a Thesis     – Definition, Features 3.  Difference Between Capstone and Thesis      – Comparison of Key Differences

Difference Between Capstone and Thesis - Comparison Summary

What is a Capstone

A capstone is a multilayered project that serves as a culminating academic experience for students, typically at the end of an academic program. Moreover, a capstone project may take many forms. In such projects, students select a topic or social problem that interests them, conduct research on that subject, record the results or findings, create a final product, showcasing their conclusions, as well as their learning acquisition. The final product can take many forms, such as papers, multimedia presentations, and short films. Students may also have to do an oral presentation on the project in front of a panel of teachers and experts who will evaluate the quality of the project.

Compare - Capstone and Thesis

Capstone projects encourage students to think critically and face challenges. They can also develop skills such as research skills, media literacy, teamwork, planning, goal setting, oral communication, public speaking, and self-sufficiency. These skills will help students in their careers as well as adult life. Furthermore, these projects tend to be interdisciplinary, i.e., students have to use various skills and research issues across many different domains of knowledge.

What is a Thesis

A thesis or dissertation is a long research paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree. Submitting a thesis is generally required for completing undergraduate honours, masters , and doctoral degrees . The theses are very long and may contain hundreds of pages. They are also scholarly in nature and allows students to contribute valuable research in their field of study.

Capstone vs Thesis

Moreover, a major part of a thesis work involves research and writing. It generally has advanced research design and analysis. When writing a thesis, the students will have to prove or disapprove a hypothesis , and their conclusions have to be backed by extensive research and an insightful, learned description of how they got to that conclusion. In some degree programs, students also have to perform an oral defence of the thesis paper in front of a panel of experts.

Parts of a Thesis

These are the components you will usually find in a thesis paper.

  • Title Page                       
  • Abstract           
  • Table of Contents           
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables           
  • Introduction           
  • Methods           
  • Discussion             
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations           
  • Acknowledgements
  • References             

Difference Between Capstone and Thesis

A capstone is a multilayered project that serves as a culminating academic experience for students, typically at the end of an academic program, whereas a thesis is a long research paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree.

A thesis is more scholarly in nature than a capstone project.

Level of Education

Capstone projects can be done by high school students, college students, etc., whereas theses are required in higher levels of academia, usually in undergraduate honours degrees, masters, or doctorate levels.

Final Product

In a capstone project, the final product can take many forms, for example, paper, multimedia presentation, short film, etc. However, in a thesis, the final product is always a paper.

A capstone is a multilayered project that serves as a culminating academic experience for students, typically at the end of an academic program, whereas a thesis is a long research paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree. Moreover, a thesis is more scholarly in nature than a capstone project. Therefore, this is is the main difference between capstone and thesis.

1. Stute, Martin. “ How to Write Your Thesis .” How to Write a Thesis. 2. “ Capstone Project Definition .” The Glossary of Education Reform, 23 Mar. 2016.

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Apr 16, 2024

Everything About Capstone Projects: An In-Depth Guide

Think of your academic journey as a thrilling mountain climb. The capstone project marks the exhilarating, and sometimes daunting, summit. This culminating assignment is a staple in many degree programs, providing students with a unique opportunity to synthesize their learning, apply their skills to real-world challenges, and showcase their readiness for the professional world.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll get into the ins and outs of capstone projects, exploring their purpose, various forms, and the steps involved in bringing yours to successful completion.

The Purpose and Value of Capstone Projects

Capstone projects are much more than a final assignment. In a way, they bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world. At their core, capstone projects are designed to:

Synthesize Learning: They force students to draw upon and integrate the wide range of knowledge and skills accumulated throughout their entire academic program. This requires a level of reflection and critical analysis that promotes deeper understanding.

Apply Knowledge: Capstones are where theory becomes practice. Students take concepts learned in the classroom and grapple with how to implement them, address unexpected challenges, and refine their solutions in actual, or realistically simulated, situations.

Develop Essential Skills: Capstone projects foster a wide array of transferable skills that translate directly to success in all professions. These include problem-solving, critical thinking, research, project management, and effective communication.

Prepare for the Future: Whether a student is aiming for the workforce or further education, a capstone project gives them tangible experience to showcase to potential employers or admissions committees. It serves as evidence of their readiness to step into more complex and demanding roles.

Types of Capstone Projects

Capstone projects come in various forms, offering students the ability to choose an approach that best suits their interests and career aspirations. Here's a look at some common types:

Research Papers: Demonstrate deep understanding through focused investigation of a specific topic. Students research, analyze data, and draw defensible conclusions.

Case Studies: Involve applying theoretical knowledge to analyze actual real-world scenarios, dissecting decisions made, their outcomes, and lessons applicable to other situations.

Creative Works: Offer a space for expressing innovation, talent, and technical skills Unique to fields like art, design, music, or writing, they might result in a portfolio, performance, or original piece.

Internships: Provide hands-on experience in a professional setting, directly applying coursework to real challenges. This gives students an inside look into their potential career field.

Field Placement Projects: Involve working with industry or community partners, contributing to projects with real-life impact, and often focusing on problem-solving within a specific organization.

Research Papers

Research papers as a capstone project offer a classic way of demonstrating mastery of a field of study. They allow students to:

Choose a Focused Topic: Students hone in on a specific question or problem within their field, demonstrating their ability to identify and explore an area of interest.

Conduct Thorough Research: Students must navigate academic resources, including peer-reviewed articles, primary sources, and data sets. This shows their ability to find and evaluate reliable information.

Synthesize & Analyze: Capstone-level research isn't just about summarizing what others have said. Students need to analyze findings critically, draw their own conclusions, and present a defensible argument.

Master Formal Writing: Research papers require adherence to academic writing standards, including proper citation and strong thesis development.

Case Studies

Case studies empower students to connect classroom theories to real situations that professionals would face. They provide opportunities to:

Apply Theoretical Frameworks: Students use models and concepts learned in their coursework to analyze a specific case, demonstrating their understanding of how those theories work in practice.

Dissect Decision-Making: By dissecting the choices made within a case study, students learn to weigh the pros and cons of different approaches and critically assess the outcomes that those decisions generate.

Form Actionable Insights: The true value of a case study lies in identifying what lessons can be applied more broadly. Students learn to recognize patterns, potential pitfalls, and strategies that can be used in other situations.

Creative Works

When capstones take a creative form, students tap into their originality and technical skills. These projects often involve:

Conceptualization: Developing a unique idea, artistic vision, or original piece requires a student to think beyond what's been done previously, pushing them to innovate.

Technical Execution: The project must still demonstrate mastery of the chosen medium – whether that's painting, composition, filmmaking, or something else entirely.

Reflective Presentation: Often, creative works are accompanied by a written component or presentation where the student articulates their process, influences, and the conceptual significance of their creation.

Internships

Internships immerse students in the world of work directly related to their studies. They offer the chance to:

Gain Professional Experience: Students work on real-world projects, contributing to ongoing initiatives within established organizations.

Put Theory into Practice: Interns grapple with applying the concepts they've learned to the tasks and challenges faced by a specific company or organization.

Build a Network: Interactions with colleagues and mentors within their field can open doors to future job opportunities.

Develop Workplace Skills: Interns practice time-management, communication in a professional context, and collaborating with a team, which are essential for success in most careers.

Field Placement Projects

Field placements connect students with community partners, bringing a real-world immediacy to their capstone experience. These projects might involve:

Collaboration: Students work directly with a company, non-profit, or government agency, gaining insights into its goals, needs, and constraints.

Problem-Solving: Field projects often focus on addressing a specific challenge or contributing to the betterment of the partner organization.

Impact: Students can see a tangible result of their work, making the experience feel more meaningful than a theoretical assignment.

Adaptability: Working within an existing organization requires students to adapt to its structure and culture, honing their flexibility and communication skills.

Does completing a capstone project significantly enhance job market readiness?

Yes. Capstone projects bridge the gap between theory and practice, equipping students with in-demand skills that employers value highly. The experience of tackling a substantial project demonstrates initiative, problem-solving abilities, time management, and clear communication – all of which translate to success in the workplace.

Selecting a Capstone Project Topic

Choosing a capstone project topic is one of the most important decisions you'll make during your academic experience. It's a chance to align your effort with both your passions and long-term goals. Here's how to find the perfect fit:

Start with "What is a capstone project?" Understanding the broader meaning and purpose of this experience helps narrow your scope. A capstone project should push you to synthesize knowledge and skills from your education and apply those in a meaningful way toward professional growth.

Self-Reflection: What are your genuine interests within your field? What problems or issues do you find most intriguing? Don't be afraid to explore beyond your most recent coursework – sometimes the best ideas stem from earlier sparks of curiosity.

Career Aspirations: Where do you envision yourself after graduation? What kinds of problems would you like to solve in your chosen profession? Choosing a topic relevant to that vision gives you hands-on experience that will be invaluable.

Topic Relevance to Career Goals

While not always mandatory, it's beneficial to select a capstone project topic that speaks to your career goals. Here's why:

Building a Relevant Portfolio: Your capstone project becomes a major work sample when applying for jobs or further education. It demonstrates your competency and active interest in specific areas of your field.

Direct Experience: Working on a project tied to your career goals gives you a taste of the kinds of challenges and tasks you might encounter later. This is much more impactful than simply reading about such problems in textbooks.

Networking Opportunities: Depending on your project type, you might interact with professionals or organizations directly in your desired field. This helps build connections and could even lead to job leads.

Research and Preparation

Once you have a general focus, it's time to refine your topic:

Preliminary Research: Read up on your chosen area to see what kinds of questions are currently being explored. Identify what intrigues you the most, and what gaps in the research you might be able to address.

Gather Resources: Talk to professors or mentors in your field. They can offer guidance on finding valuable texts, articles, and data sets relevant to your topic.

Narrow Focus: A successful capstone topic is focused enough to be tackled in depth within the given timeframe. Resist trying to address everything about a broad subject.

Is it critical to choose a capstone project topic related to one's career goals?

Though not strictly required, it's highly advantageous to choose a career-focused capstone project. The experience gained becomes relevant, immediately applicable to your professional development, and helps you stand out to future employers or graduate school admissions panels.

Integrating Capstone Projects with Other Academic Work

Capstone projects aren't isolated endeavors. They serve as a culmination of your academic journey , drawing upon and enriching your understanding of the knowledge gained through previous coursework. Let's explore these connections:

From Research Papers to Capstone Projects

Research papers and capstone projects both heavily rely on your research and analysis skills. However, they differ in their ultimate goals:

Research Papers: These hone your ability to research a specific topic, analyze existing literature, and present a well-supported argument. The focus is on understanding and critically evaluating established knowledge.

Capstone Projects: While research remains imperative, capstone projects move beyond pure analysis. Here, you apply the theoretical frameworks learned in research papers to tackle a real-world problem or create something innovative.

Linking Dissertations and Capstone Projects

Capstone projects share a deeper connection with dissertations , although the scale and scope are different:

Dissertations: These in-depth, original research projects are the cornerstone of doctoral programs. They involve extensive research, data collection, and analysis, culminating in a significant contribution to existing knowledge.

Capstone Projects: While not expected to redefine a field, capstone projects showcase your ability to conduct thorough research and apply it to address specific problems or opportunities within your chosen discipline. They provide a taste of the research rigor expected in graduate studies.

Capstone Projects vs. Term Papers

Term papers serve as building blocks for your capstone project, but they differ in scope and depth:

Term Papers: These typically focus on a specific aspect of a broader field, allowing you to explore a chosen topic and develop your research and writing skills. The research conducted for a term paper can form the foundation for a more comprehensive capstone project.

Capstone Projects: More comprehensive and demanding, capstone projects require a deeper dive into a topic. They involve applying knowledge from multiple courses, conducting original research if applicable, and potentially creating a tangible outcome.

Can Capstone Projects Incorporate Elements from Previous Academic Papers Effectively?

Absolutely! In fact, integrating elements from previous academic work significantly enriches your capstone project:

Provides Depth and Continuity: Prior research becomes the foundation for your capstone project, demonstrating the evolution of your understanding. This continuity strengthens your overall argument.

Highlights Skill Development: By showcasing how you've built upon prior research methods and analysis, you demonstrate a progression in your research and critical thinking skills.

Offers a Stronger Foundation: Previous papers can serve as springboards for more focused research questions within your capstone project.

By weaving together the knowledge gained throughout your academic journey, a capstone project becomes a powerful testament to your intellectual growth and your ability to apply knowledge meaningfully.

Writing and Presentation Techniques

The way you communicate your capstone project can be as important as the project itself. Here's how to nail both the write-up and the presentation:

Crafting a Compelling Introduction

Your introduction sets the tone for the entire project. Aim to capture your audience's attention and clearly convey the significance of your work right from the start. Here are a few techniques:

The Hook: Begin with a compelling fact, a provocative question, a relevant anecdote, or a quote that directly relates to your topic.

Problem Statement: Clearly articulate the specific issue, challenge, or opportunity your capstone project addresses.

Significance: Succinctly explain why this project matters. Highlight the potential impact of your research, the innovative nature of your creative work, or the tangible benefits of your practical experience.

Thesis Statement: If applicable, offer a concise and clear statement that summarizes your main argument or the central outcome of your project.

Developing a Coherent Structure

Whether presenting your work in writing or orally, a logical structure ensures your audience can easily follow your thought process and findings:

Written Reports: Follow standard academic formatting guidelines (if applicable). Use clear headings and subheadings to organize your ideas into logical sections. Consider a typical structure like:

Introduction

Literature Review (if applicable)

Methodology

Results/Findings

Analysis/Discussion

Presentations:

Create a slide deck with clear visuals and concise talking points.

Practice your presentation to ensure a smooth, logical flow of ideas.

Maintain a clear distinction between the background information, your unique contribution, and the implications of your findings.

Additional Tips for Writing and Presentations

Know Your Audience: Are you presenting to professors within your field, potential employers, or a general audience? Tailor your language and presentation style accordingly.

Visual Aids: Pictures, graphs, charts, or other visual elements can enhance understanding and make your work more engaging.

Proofread Meticulously: Spelling and grammar errors reflect poorly on your attention to detail. Have someone else proofread your final draft before submission.

Practice and Prepare: For presentations, practice thoroughly, ensuring your timing is on point and you're comfortable answering potential questions.

Conclusion and Reflection

Your capstone project conclusion isn't just about restating what you already said. It's your chance to synthesize your journey and leave a lasting impression. Consider these elements:

Reiterate Key Findings: Concisely re-emphasize the most significant outcomes, discoveries, or insights gained from your capstone project. Be sure to connect them back to your original research questions or your project's main purpose.

Reflect on Growth: What did you learn about yourself as a learner and thinker through this process? What skills did you develop or strengthen? This personal reflection gives your conclusion depth.

Discuss Limitations Even the best projects have areas where constraints or unforeseen issues arose. Briefly acknowledging these shows your self-awareness and provides context for your findings.

Future Directions: If applicable, suggest possible avenues for further research inspired by your work. Or, discuss potential applications of your findings in a broader context.

Engaging with Your Audience

To make your capstone project truly memorable, go beyond just presenting information and focus on connecting with your audience:

Relevance: Explicitly explain why your project should matter to the people reading or viewing your work. What real-world problems does your research address? How does your creative work expand perspectives? What actionable skills did you gain from a practical capstone experience?

Storytelling: When appropriate, weave in anecdotes or examples that illustrate your process, the challenges you overcame, or how your findings illuminate a human element. Storytelling helps audiences connect with your project on an emotional level.

Call to Action: If relevant, don't be afraid to ask something of your audience. This could be a call for further investigation, a change in perspective, or action to be taken towards a problem your project explored.

Q&A: Leave ample time for questions and discussion, both in written and presentation formats. This demonstrates your willingness to engage further and shows that you consider your project an ongoing intellectual dialogue.

Revising and Finalizing Your Project

The revision stage is where your capstone project truly takes its final form. It's tempting to rush through this part, but putting in the time to carefully revise and polish will elevate your work significantly.

Give it Some Space: Step away from your project for a few days if time allows. Returning to it with fresh eyes will help you spot errors and areas in need of improvement.

Revisit Project Objectives: Go back to the original goals and requirements. Does your current draft fully address them? Are there any aspects that could be further developed?

Check for Cohesiveness: Ensure the flow of your work is logical, with clear transitions between sections. Pay attention to both the overall project structure and how smaller sections or paragraphs link together.

Scrutinize Details: Meticulously proofread for typos, grammatical errors, and proper formatting. Make sure citations are complete and accurate.

Addressing Feedback

Seeking feedback is crucial for ensuring your work meets expectations and makes a strong impact. Here's how to approach it:

Trusted Sources: Get feedback from professors, mentors, peers with strong academic skills, or even professionals in your field, if applicable. Diverse perspectives are invaluable.

Open-Mindedness: Embrace constructive criticism as an opportunity to improve. Don't get defensive – feedback is there to help you grow, not to attack your work.

Careful Integration: Not all feedback needs to be incorporated blindly. Consider each suggestion carefully and decide if and how it will truly strengthen your project.

Is peer review an essential step in the revision process of capstone projects?

Yes! Peer review offers several distinct advantages:

Fresh Perspective: Peers can often spot inconsistencies or issues that you might be too close to the work to see.

Identifying Confusion: Areas that may be clear to you could be confusing to a reader encountering your topic for the first time. Peers can point out where more explanation or clarity is needed.

Exposure to Different Styles: Seeing how your peers organize their projects and communicate their findings can offer fresh ideas for improving your own presentation.

Practicing Constructive Feedback: Learning to both give and receive constructive feedback is a key skill in most professional settings. Peer review offers a safe space to hone this skill.

Navigating the Capstone Project Journey

The capstone project is a transformative experience that bridges the gap between classroom learning and the exciting challenges you'll face as a professional in your chosen field. From selecting a topic that aligns with your passions and goals to carefully integrating the diverse skills you've cultivated throughout your education, this project empowers you to make a meaningful contribution.

While the capstone journey may require significant effort and dedication, the rewards are undeniable. Not only will you gain valuable experience and produce a work sample that showcases your potential, but you'll also emerge from this experience with the enhanced confidence to tackle the complex problems that await you in your future career.

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What is a Capstone Project in College?

A woman in a yellow shirt working on her college capstone project

The capstone project in college is the apogee, or completion marker, of a student's coursework leading to the culmination of their program with a degree in their chosen field of study. The original definition of a capstone focuses on the actual stone placed at the top of a wall or building, marking the successful completion of the structure. It's a significant and celebrated piece of architecture, considered to be the most important of an entire construction project.

"(Capstone projects are) the apex of all a student's work done throughout their college career," said Dr. Jeff Czarnec , a social sciences adjunct online and on-campus at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Retired after 23 years in law enforcement, Czarnec served as an associate dean of criminal justice and social sciences at SNHU for nearly a decade. He now leverages his extensive background to teach social sciences, enriching the academic experience with his practical insights. 

When entering a capstone course, there's an expectation that you have all the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful. 

Dr. Thomas MaCarty, associate dean of social sciences programs at SNHU

You have the opportunity to pick a research topic that is of interest to you and run with it. "After having to write research papers in all of their courses prior to (the capstone), the task is not one to dread, but to enjoy. It is their time to shine as students and to enjoy the journey," MacCarty said.

A capstone course is more than a potential degree requirement. It can serve as an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge mastery and creative thinking, which may help you stand out to potential employers.

What is Involved in a Capstone Project?

Dr. Jeff Czarnec, a social sciences adjunct at SNHU

Each university, program and instructor may have different requirements — or models — for a capstone project. According to Czarnec, a general design might first include selecting a topic of interest that the instructor will approve. 

Czarnec said that, depending on the program, a capstone may include anything from a video presentation or an architectural model to an art exhibit or short film; however, it almost always includes a paper demonstrating an introduction, theory, evaluation, research and individual issues relevant to the proposal.

"Students are expected to be ready to enter the world as professionals in their field upon completion of the capstone course," said MacCarty.

The time it takes to complete a capstone project usually depends on the course's length. If you're in an undergraduate online program at SNHU, for instance, your capstone course would take eight weeks to complete, Czarnec said. 

Capstone courses are research-based, and you can choose your topic early on, allowing you more freedom to conduct research  independently. Capstone topics usually align with a program's specific disciplines, too.

For example, in the social sciences realm, "our focus is on human behavior and cognition, which may be different from a capstone course in business or STEM," MacCarty said.

Find Your Program

Types of capstones.

There are many types of capstone projects that you could consider, and they vary from learner to learner, Czarnec said. "Some will investigate issues or phenomenon that they are familiar with either professionally, personally or courtesy of a discipline-related source, such (as) a police or human services agency," he said. 

In a nutshell, a rough outline of a capstone, according to Czarnec, may look something like this:

  • Select a topic and have it approved by the instructor
  • Evaluate relevance to the proposal
  • Perform necessary research
  • Present results in the agreed-upon fashion

Czarnec said that if you're looking for a capstone topic, you may consider focusing on an area you're passionate about or you could also try to ask you instructor for some assistance. For example, Czarnec said that he can act as a guide, mentor, editor and research resource for his students to help them focus and narrow their search for a capstone topic.

Are Capstone Projects Difficult?

"Not necessarily," said Czarnec. "It does force you to be efficient and very specific to topic. No fluff. Straight forward. Razor sharp." 

The capstone is more of an opportunity to catch your breath, he said, and to retrace and pull up what you have learned in a more stress-free environment .

"It helps validate students as learners," Czarnec said.

Depending on the major and course requirements, there may be opportunities to connect with outside contacts, not only to assist with the capstone project research and problem statement but also to provide a networking community .

"Not every research project is, nor should they be, the same," Czarnec said. "Everyone has a different approach."

What is the Difference Between a Thesis and a Capstone Project?

A blue and white icon of a pencil writing on lines

A capstone is similar to a thesis in that the starting point involves the strengths needed for a thesis or dissertation work. For example, you may need to consider the skeletal structure of research and form your theory, hypothesis and problem statement.

"While a capstone is certainly a scholarly piece of work and does share some aspects of a thesis, the time and detail that is required of a master's thesis is greater," MacCarty said. 

A capstone paper may be 25 pages, whereas a thesis could be 100 or more. If you choose to further your education beyond a bachelor's degree, the capstone project could be an invaluable tool in preparing for a graduate thesis.

Capstone Projects are About Your Success

Capstones of all programs are leading you to the end game, Czarnec said. The goal is to develop you into a well-rounded thinker who can pull their work together in a coherent, articulate, well-organized fashion while considering the demands of the profession or vocation you're interested in.

The focus and intent of a capstone should be to create an effective device to assess and measure all that you've learned throughout your program in an aggregate fashion so you can demonstrate your life-long vocational skills in a nice, neat package. 

"My goal is for students to leave the program confident about their skills and abilities," said Czarnec.

MacCarty said that capstone courses should be structured to support your success in fulfilling program requirements and allow you the opportunity to showcase your academic abilities and skills gained throughout your degree program.

A degree can change your life. Choose your program  from 200+ SNHU degrees that can take you where you want to go.

Laurie Smith '14 is a writer, editor and communications specialist. Connect with her on LinkedIn .

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Capstone Project

Also called a capstone experience , culminating project , or  senior exhibition , among many other terms, a capstone project is a multifaceted assignment that serves as a culminating academic and intellectual experience for students, typically during their final year of high school or middle school, or at the end of an academic program or learning-pathway experience . While similar in some ways to a college thesis, capstone projects may take a wide variety of forms, but most are long-term investigative projects that culminate in a final product, presentation, or performance. For example, students may be asked to select a topic, profession, or social problem that interests them, conduct research on the subject, maintain a portfolio of findings or results, create a final product demonstrating their learning acquisition or conclusions (a paper, short film, or multimedia presentation, for example), and give an oral presentation on the project to a panel of teachers, experts, and community members who collectively evaluate its quality.

Capstone projects are generally designed to encourage students to think critically, solve challenging problems, and develop skills such as oral communication, public speaking, research skills, media literacy, teamwork, planning, self-sufficiency, or goal setting—i.e., skills that will help prepare them for college, modern careers, and adult life. In most cases, the projects are also interdisciplinary, in the sense that they require students to apply skills or investigate issues across many different subject areas or domains of knowledge. Capstone projects also tend to encourage students to connect their projects to community issues or problems, and to integrate outside-of-school learning experiences, including activities such as interviews, scientific observations, or internships.

While capstone projects can take a wide variety of forms from school to school, a few examples will help to illustrate both the concept and the general educational intentions:

  • Writing, directing, and filming a public-service announcement that will be aired on public-access television
  • Designing and building a product, computer program, app, or robot to address a specific need, such as assisting the disabled
  • Interning at a nonprofit organization or a legislator’s office to learn more about strategies and policies intended to address social problems, such as poverty, hunger, or homelessness
  • Conducting a scientific study over several months or a year to determine the ecological or environmental impact of changes to a local habitat
  • Researching an industry or market, and creating a viable business plan for a proposed company that is then “pitched” to a panel of local business leaders

For related discussions, see authentic learning , portfolio ,  relevance , and 21st century skills .

As a school-reform strategy, capstone projects are often an extension of more systemic school-improvement models or certain teaching philosophies or strategies, such as 21st century skills, community-based learning , proficiency-based learning , project-based learning , or student-centered learning , to name just a few.

The following are a few representative educational goals of capstone projects:

  • Increasing the academic rigor of the senior year. Historically, high school students have taken a lighter course load or left school early during their twelfth-grade year, which can contribute to learning loss or insufficient preparation for first-year college work. A more academically and intellectually challenging senior year, filled with demanding but stimulating learning experiences such as a capstone project, the reasoning goes, can reduce senior-year learning loss , keep students in school longer (or otherwise engaged in learning), and increase preparation for college and work.
  • Increasing student motivation and engagement. The creative nature of capstone projects, which are typically self-selected by students and based on personal interests, can strengthen student motivation to learn, particularly during a time (twelfth grade) when academic motivation and engagement tend to wane.
  • Increasing educational and career aspirations. By involving students in long-term projects that intersect with personal interests and professional aspirations, capstone projects can help students with future planning, goal setting, postsecondary decisions, and career exploration—particularly for those students who may be unfocused, uncertain, or indecisive about their post-graduation plans and aspirations.
  • Improving student confidence and self-perceptions. Capstone projects typically require students to take on new responsibilities, be more self-directed, set goals, and follow through on commitments. Completing such projects can boost self-esteem, build confidence, and teach students about the value of accomplishment. Students may also become role models for younger students, which can cultivate leadership abilities and have positive cultural effects within a school.
  • Demonstrating learning and proficiency. As one of many educational strategies broadly known as demonstrations of learning , capstone projects can be used to determine student proficiency (in the acquisition of knowledge and skills) or readiness (for college and work) by requiring them to demonstrate what they have learned over the course of their project

In recent years, the capstone-project concept has also entered the domain of state policy. In Rhode Island, for example, the state’s high school graduation requirements stipulate that seniors must complete two out of three assessment options, one of which can be a capstone project. Several other states require students to complete some form of senior project, while in other states such projects may be optional, and students who complete a capstone project may receive special honors or diploma recognition.

Most criticism of or debate about capstone projects is not focused on the strategy itself, or its intrinsic or potential educational value, but rather on the quality of its execution—i.e., capstone projects tend to be criticized when they are poorly designed or reflect low academic standards, or when students are allowed to complete relatively superficial projects of low educational value. In addition, if teachers and students consider capstone projects to be a formality, lower-quality products typically result. And if the projects reflect consistently low standards, quality, and educational value year after year, educators, students, parents, and community members may come to view capstone projects as a waste of time or resources.

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Capstone Project: Definition, Types, Structure, and Examples

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by  Antony W

January 2, 2024

what is a thesis or capstone project

If you're reading this, chances are that you're in your final year of school and the words "capstone project" have come up somewhere in your first or second semester.

You're probably looking for a quick score on the topic - what it's about, a project template, or even a sample. If so, you're in the right place.

Before we get into it, you' need to know that you're in the hands of consummate capstone project experts.

Help for Assessment is composed of scholars at all levels of academic achievement including Masters and Ph.D., all inspired and motivated to help students like you achieve their academic goals. The expertise and experience we have spans years. Even better, this combined academic expertise is placed at your disposal. If your capstone research project is already giving you goosebumps, we will do it for you from scratch including the project proposal, research, write up, and final review before submission.

Remember, you can trust Help for Assessment to complete your capstone project successfully and earn you top grades. All you have to do is order the service here on our service page.

 In the meantime, let us explore the definition of the capstone project, types of projects for students, and a sample capstone project.

What Is a Capstone Project? 

what is a thesis or capstone project

A capstone project in college is a final independent project undertaken in a program of study designed to assess the skills, knowledge, and expertise acquired by the student.

As the name suggests, it is the capstone or crowning achievement of academic life and the last class taken before graduation. It gives you the final credits required to pass the course, which is why every student must take the project.

Since it is designed to assess knowledge and skills gained in a particular discipline, capstone projects vary from school to school and discipline to discipline.

Such a project might involve something as simple as research on a topic, an evaluation of a new technique or method, development of a health program, research into a historical figure or event, or even composing a skit or theatre presentation.

No matter what kind of project you choose to undertake, the result is the same. You get to showcase your understanding of the coursework material learned and display your readiness to enter the professional world to start your career. It is a rewarding experience if done right, but can mess up your final year and possibly your graduation if you manage to mess it up.

Do you know that a successful capstone project also helps to land you lucrative jobs? That’s right, capstone projects are one of the ways potential employers find out just how learned, resourceful, and talented you are. Think of it as a kind of thesis.

Capstone projects are also called culminating projects, experience, senior exhibition, or other similar names. The project is usually self-directed, and most students find it a challenge to even come up with the right capstone project topic. 

Capstone Project Vs. Thesis

what is a thesis or capstone project

A capstone project and a thesis are both very similar in that they represent a final effort from the student just before graduation.

They are done in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the course being undertaken. The comprehensive approach and assessment involved are very similar, and sometimes the structure and methodology might overlap.

Both also have to be reviewed and approved by the institution and will remain in the public domain after publishing.

However, there are some important differences.

  • A thesis is purely academic while a capstone project focuses more on the practical preparation of the student for the real world/job market.
  • A thesis is guided by a research question resulting in the addition of new knowledge to the field, while a capstone project is guided by the practical importance of the project to the field.
  • A thesis involves academic research and analysis, while a capstone project can be anything including a dance or film.
  • A thesis is expected to be original and authentic, while a capstone project will have more loose requirements. You can borrow another person’s capstone project ideas , so long as you demonstrate your own advancement in the field.
  • A capstone project will usually only have a brief write-up or report, while a thesis generates a detailed, extensive writeup.
  • The final presentation of a thesis, called a defense, is meant to prove and show that you have mastered the subject. You are supposed to be a mini-expert in the field. A capstone project presentation comes off as a kind of exhibition where you showcase your project without having to defend it.

Types of Capstone Projects

what is a thesis or capstone project

Capstone projects vary not just in the type of project, also in the level at which they are done.

There are projects for juniors and seniors in college as well as for postgraduate students.

Here are some examples of the forms of projects depending on the academic level.

  • In-depth research projects.
  • Developing the concept of a product, tool, or service.
  • Expositions.
  • Experiments.

Capstone projects can be conducted either individually or in a group.

However, the key thing is to make sure that the project proposal has been reviewed and approved by the instructor/panel/institution in charge before proceeding.

Senior Capstone Project

Senior projects are so called because they are done by high school students in their senior year.

Just like other projects, they represent a culmination of the coursework with an interdisciplinary application of knowledge and skills gained so far.

The project usually takes the better part of the final academic year and will have different parts to it, depending on the type of project chosen.

It will also require a presentation where the student(s) explain and describe the project to an audience, including their classmates.

Sample Capstone Project Outline

The write up for a project consists of several parts. However, even before starting the write-up, you need to do a few things:

  • Come up with an idea for your project. What will be your subject matter, topic, or premise?
  • Find sources for the project and review them beforehand to ensure that they will be of help to you.
  • Come up with a step-by-step methodology for your project.

Using this information, you will then write a capstone project proposal for your project. It informs your instructor or review panel exactly what you intend to present so that they can approve or reject it.

Once approved, you can go on to the next stage. The final write-up has the following parts.

  • A title page.
  • Project outline.
  • A description/abstract.
  • Introduction
  • Rationale/relevance/reason for doing the project.
  • Objectives of the project.
  • Procedures/methodology.
  • Research and analysis.
  • Evaluation of results and findings.
  • Conclusion and future work/suggestions.
  • Bibliography/works cited/reference list.

Note that the project is carried out in stages. Once approved, you will need to be submitting weekly or monthly status reports to your supervisor. After the project report is submitted, you will also have to make a presentation about the whole project.

This brief outline is only meant to be a rough guide. We have a much more detailed article detailing how you can do your capstone project, including a project template. 

Capstone Project Examples

Help for Assessment has extensive experience when it comes to capstone projects of all kinds.

Whether it’s a high school project, a college capstone, or a senior capstone project, you can trust us to carry it out successfully for you.

You can check out various project samples here . 

Get Help With Your Capstone Project

Capstone projects in every level of school are a make or break it deal. Given that they complete the graduation credits required, it makes sense to leave this important part of your coursework to experts.

We are proud to offer you a guide on how to write a capstone project here . If you need help, you can take advantage of our capstone project writing service at affordable, student-friendly rates with amazing discounts. 

Check it out here and make your order to experience excellence, peace of mind, and success thanks to our stellar services.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

What Is a Capstone Project in University?

what is a thesis or capstone project

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Importance of Capstone Courses

Characteristics of capstone projects, capstone project vs. capstone course, examples across various majors, capstone project process, benefits for students, challenges and tips, frequently asked questions about capstone in university.

Confused with the concept of a capstone project ? As you approach your senior year, you might be hearing about this culmination project—whether a research endeavor, final paper, application, or portfolio— this academic endeavor aims to showcase the depth of your learning throughout your college years and prepares you for the professional world.

 In this blog post, I will explore what it means, how to prepare for it, and how you can bring this academic achievement to life. I'll guide you through this process, ensuring you have the support and resources you need. With the right guidance and understanding, you can transform this challenging task into an opportunity for growth and real-world application.

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importance of capstone courses

Capstone courses are part of university curricula and are strategically designed to prepare students for a seamless transition from academia to the workforce. They may include research endeavors and theses. However, each has a distinct focus and purpose.

These projects often highlight practical applications and skill enrichment, making them more aligned with professional practice (often done as a group project).

On the other hand, research and theses contribute to the academic body of knowledge, delving deeper into theoretical aspects. Bridging this knowledge gap is essential to empowering students with the understanding needed to make informed decisions about their final-year assessments.

In a broader context, a capstone project is designed to integrate theoretical knowledge with practical application. It provides a platform to reflect on academic journeys, apply acquired knowledge to real-world scenarios, and develop problem-solving skills. By addressing tangible challenges, learners enhance their readiness for the professional world.

The benefits of capstone projects extend beyond academic prowess. They empower students to navigate complex, work-related issues, through practical experience and fostering a deeper understanding on a particular subject.

This synthesis of knowledge and practical application enriches the graduate student's educational experience and typically involves graduates with a skill set essential for success in their higher education.

Capstone Project vs. Capstone Course

Although the terms "capstone project" and "capstone course" are often used interchangeably, it's necessary to understand their differences:

A  capstone project   is an independent assignment that encapsulates students' academic learning and demonstrates their proficiency in a specific discipline or field.

The focus is on individual research, problem-solving, or creative endeavors, providing a medium to demonstrate the knowledge acquired as students finish their studies. A capstone project is part of a course (think of it as a final assignment).

A  capstone course   contains a broader coursework and educational experience. It is an entire course (like any other) in which students incorporate and apply their knowledge gained throughout a program. It often requires students to collaborate on projects, engage in discussions, and participate in various activities. It can take longer to complete and varies depending on the institution. 

Examples Across Various Majors

Students across different degree programs engage in multifaceted capstone experiences at the end of their college careers. These experiences can vary widely, from individual research to collaborative group endeavors, reflecting the essence of their academic achievements.

For example, in fields such as political science, students may delve into a senior thesis, conducting extensive research and showcasing their critical thinking skills.

Alternatively, within literature courses, the last capstone course may involve a comprehensive literature review, illustrating the culmination of knowledge and skills acquired throughout the course of the degree program.

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Many capstone courses extend beyond conventional research papers, requiring you to work on a final project addressing a real-world problem. This collaborative effort and practical method, which can be conducted in small groups, emphasizes teamwork, a significant amount of research, and a strong work ethic (fundamental skills that prepare students for the workplace).

In addition to meeting the degree program and requirements, these capstone experiences often involve a final exhibition, allowing students to present and demonstrate their problem statement to professors, other students, peers, and sometimes even external stakeholders.

A capstone course experience serves as a bridge to graduate degrees or even doctorates, honing research capabilities that are essential for success and develop the necessary skills for potential employers.

Capstone Project Process

As Jolanta Burke and Majella Dempsey highlight in their Practical Guide for Students Book , commencing a capstone project is like constructing a house:

Firstly, you must establish solid foundations, much like a house, ensuring reliability. Then, continue learning and enhancing your skills to build it. Once armed with the necessary skills and information, the next step is to decide on the materials, devise a plan of action, and follow through until the house—your project—is complete and ready for use.

Just as a house requires a robust foundation, a capstone project initiates with meticulous planning. This phase encompasses defining content, goals, and methodologies, ensuring the project demonstrates most capstone courses.

For instance, if your project revolves around human-centered design, identify a problem, such as a shortage of shelters in a city, and conduct research. Then, the person and approach to solving this problem should be determined, perhaps by studying the owner of an existing shelter and identifying gaps in current approaches.

While delving into extensive research, it's crucial for students to hone academic capabilities by studying other courses and examining what has already been done about the specific problem. Seeking input from people, professors, and TAs are invaluable. Once enough material, like a literature review or interviews, is gathered, present it to your professor for feedback before progressing.

Pre-Execution

Jus like choosing construction materials for a house, students must decide on materials and formulate a detailed action plan, meeting degree or course requirements. This phase demands careful consideration of methodologies and strategies, emphasizing material determination—whether it's an app, a history psychology project, or any other course. Craft a structured plan and present it as a proposal before delving deeper into the subject.

The final stage involves executing the plan and completing the project, demonstrating the capstone experience. The research project needs to be prepared for use, showcasing the culmination of efforts.

Presentation

The presentation serves as the grand reveal of the completed project. A well-structured project and a compelling pitch, typically required, is essential to demonstrate its readiness for use.

This approach ensures a seamless transition from planning to execution, essential for success in capstone courses and the culmination of their academic journey.

capstone project group work- group of students

The preparatory nature of these projects makes students discover what they enjoy the most, what comes easily, and the potential to find areas of improvement. The benefits are crucial for student' personal and professional development, providing a real connection between academic knowledge and real-world application.

Gaining Skills and Experiences

Capstone projects showcase the skills and experiences accumulated throughout a student's educational journey. From research prowess to critical thinking and effective communication, the project culminates in these proficiencies, bringing them to the student's forefront.

Practical Transition to the Next Phase

Capstone projects are vital in preparing students to transition to the professional world or advance in academic pursuits. It's a practical initiation into college career, familiarizing students with the challenges and responsibilities they'll encounter in their future careers or advanced degrees at other schools.

Initiation of Work or Advanced Studies

Working on a capstone project program allows students to navigate the complexities they'll encounter in their chosen field. This experiential learning program equips them with valuable insights and the confidence and adaptability required to transition to the professional world or pursue advanced degrees.

Holistic Development for Future Success

Capstone projects contribute significantly to students' and major programs' holistic development, ensuring they are academically qualified and possess the practical skills demanded by prospective employers for their future endeavors.

graphs and data to examine challenges and tips

Here are some potential burdens and some capstone journey strategies that have helped me throughout my projects during school.

Choosing a Subject:

  • Challenge:  Defining the size of your capstone project can be daunting. I recommend balancing ambition with feasibility. For example, if you are trying to help dog shelters, maybe focus on how to prevent owners from abandoning them by educating dog owners. In the case of a more research-based project, look at the literature review of your research focus and build upon what has already been investigated.
  • Strategy:  Begin with a clear project scope and revisit the risks regularly. Prioritize key objectives to avoid complicating your project, and focus on a single issue .

Time Management:

  • Challenge:  Capstone projects often overlap with other academic commitments. Time management becomes paramount.
  • Strategy:  Create a detailed timeline, allocating specific tasks to manageable time frames. Regularly reassess and adjust as needed.

Research Roadblocks:

  • Challenge:  Conducting extensive research may lead to information overload or difficulty finding relevant sources.
  • Strategy:  Define research questions early. What is the project doing? For whom? In what builds upon? Utilize academic databases and seek guidance from mentors for targeted resource discovery.

Team Dynamics (if applicable):

  • Challenge:  Group projects may need help coordinating schedules, differing work styles, or conflicting ideas.
  • Strategy:  Establish clear communication channels, set expectations from the beginning, and address conflicts promptly.

capstone project in university

What exactly is a capstone project?

A capstone project is a culmination endeavor in your last year of college. This final assignment showcases the knowledge you acquired throughout your college years. It's a bridge between academia and the professional world, demonstrating the complete scope of your learning.

How do capstone courses differ from capstone projects?

A capstone project is an independent culminating assignment reflecting academic individual proficiency. On the other hand, a capstone course is an entire academic course that may involve collaborative projects, discussions, diverse activities, and presentations.

What are the benefits and challenges of capstone projects?

Capstone projects offer transformative experiences, unveiling skills and experiences gained through academic years. The benefits include skill refinement, self-discovery, and a practical transition to the professional realm.

However, challenges such as choosing a subject, time management, research roadblocks, and team dynamics may arise. Strategies like clear project scoping, time management, focused research questions, and effective team communication can help overcome these challenges.

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Theses and Capstone Projects: Writing your thesis or capstone project report

When a final project includes a written document of some sort, students are expected to follow the appropriate MSOE style guide. There are separate style guides for undergraduate and graduate work.

The applicable style guide can be found here:

  • MSOE Graduate Student Documentation and Style Guide For Technical Documents
  • MSOE Undergraduate Documentation and Style Guide

Thesis and Capstone Reports

MSOE librarians work closely with graduate students and their advisers during the thesis and capstone report phase of their education. The following resources, documents and information will help you complete your final project.

Graduate Thesis and Capstone Report Format Checks

In compliance with Graduate Programs Council (GPC) Policy 4.3.009, the library is responsible for verifying that all MSOE Graduate Thesis and Capstone Report documents comply with MSOE’s format requirements.

Graduate Thesis and Capstone Report Completion

  • Graduate Thesis and Capstone Document Process This document walks through the process of completing a masters thesis or capstone document, including the library publication approval check and other considerations.
  • Graduate Thesis and Capstone Publication Approval Form Complete this form and submit it to the library along with the thesis or capstone project to be reviewed.
  • MSOE Electronic Thesis and Capstone Project Report Permission Form Use this Form to grant MSOE permission to electronically publish a graduate degree thesis or a graduate degree capstone project report or other independent graduate degree final report or essay.
  • Library “Non-Circulation Status” Request Form Complete this from to request access restrictions for a thesis or capstone report.

Personal Thesis/Capstone Bindery Request

The library offers a bindery service for graduate students interested in having copies of their thesis or capstone report bound in a durable, sturdy, and attractive hardcover binding. Students are charged a fee per volume for the service. To request binding of a thesis or capstone report, please send an email to [email protected] .

Electronic Publications at MSOE

  • Electronic Publications at MSOE A selection of theses and final capstone project reports completed by graduate students at MSOE that have been approved for electronic dissemination.

MSOE electronic publication provides the broadest possible method of disseminating your work. With electronic publication, the full text of your electronic thesis, capstone project report, or final independent report or essay is freely accessible world-wide on the Internet. Electronic publication of your document typically results in more recognition of your research work, wider dissemination of scholarly information, and acceleration of research.

The MSOE Library invites MSOE graduate students who have completed an approved master's thesis, capstone project report, or other independent final report or essay to submit their work to the MSOE Institutional Repository. In order to participate, graduate students must complete and submit a Permission Form in order to enable MSOE to electronically publish their work.

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CAPSTONE PROJECT: Parts of a Capstone Project

  • Parts of a Capstone Project
  • Voice in the Capstone Project
  • Analysis of Qualitative Data

What a Table of Contents Could Contain

I      Introduction        A     Statement Of Problem/Opportunity (Research Question)        B     Background, Context, And Significance Of Study        C     Project Researcher Identification II     Literature Review        A     Subheadings (Themes Discovered In Review)        B     Notice Of Gaps In Knowledge III    Methods        A     Subjects/Participants        B     Data Collection Approaches/Strategies              1     Advantage Of Strategy              2     Limitation Of Strategy              3     Potential Risk              4     Ethical Issues About Collection Upon The Subjects/Participants        C     Data Analysis Approaches And/Or Software (NOT The Results Themselves, Just How You Are Going To Analyze The Data – Coding Method, Analysis Of Interviews/Recordings, Mathematics And Stats Analysis) IV     Results, Findings, Interpretation, And Discussion V      Recommendations, Application, And Conclusion VI     Reference Pages

What Goes Into Each Section

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  • Last Updated: Jun 27, 2019 9:31 AM
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Table of Contents

What is a capstone project, importance of capstone project, purpose of capstone project, types of capstone projects, components of a capstone paper, capstone project vs thesis paper, capstone project: your gateway to professionalism.

Capstone Projects Explained: Start Your Journey!

A Capstone Project is where academia meets real-world impact. Crucial to any certification course or college degree educational program, it can take multiple structures but offers the same purpose. According to the International Journal of Higher Education, over 85% of universities and colleges worldwide now incorporate capstone projects into their curriculum, recognizing their unparalleled ability to bridge the gap between theoretical learning and practical application.

This project gives students a unique chance to perform independent research to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems. The scale and degree of this project can be tested, and it is also exceptionally fulfilling. The capstone project was last year's activity and is an essential part of helping students prepare for the world of professionalism.

For those wondering what is capstone, it is the final assignment that is to be completed by the students in the final year of their academic program. This project needs multiple scholarly exercises. 

This project includes multiple varieties of structures, which means that it can be submitted in multiple forms, including a paper, execution, film, or multimedia presentation. This project is similar to any college thesis.

These projects are crafted to boost the students' critical thinking, oral communication, teamwork abilities, research, and problem-solving skills. In addition, this project helps students understand the process of connecting with local areas and identifying significant problems, issues, and ideas. Some tasks even include experiences outside of school, such as scientific observations and interviews.

Along with various other significant factors, a capstone project expands the austerity of academic studies during the final year.

  • Capstone projects serve as a culmination of a student's academic journey. It requires them to draw upon knowledge and skills acquired throughout their studies. This integration of various disciplines provides a deeper understanding and appreciation of the interconnectedness of different subjects.
  • A capstone project also increases students' individual inspiration. Its activities require creative work on fascinating themes, boosting students' inspiration.
  • Through research, experimentation, and analysis, students develop essential problem-solving skills that employers across various industries highly seek.
  • Capstone projects are an amazing approach to display learning capability. These kinds of projects help youngsters decide their preparation and capability to represent what they have learned from the project.

The major purposes behind incorporating capstone projects for the students include the following:

Overall Students Development

The meaning of capstone is a stone placed on the highest point of a structure to complete its construction. Hence, a capstone project refers to the advancement of students through their course. This project helps students improve their public speaking, teamwork, relational abilities, planning, and handling challenging problems. Students explore multiple ideas and implement their abilities while performing this project. It also helps students encounter learning techniques, such as intentions, research, etc.

Hones Skills that are Highly in Demand by Employers

The capstone project includes a disciplined, working society, planning to implement certain skills that are highly valued by employers and align well with the students' careers. While entering your career field or proceeding with how you study, how you implement and boost your skills is important. With each task, you polish your skills eventually. Moreover, you also develop better skills with the length and complexity of the assigned capstone project. Working on a capstone project includes selecting valid, relevant, and correct information, and these activities make it essential to boost your critical thinking skills. For instance, a capstone project helps you enhance your communication skills, which will be essential when you appear for an interview.

Provides Valuable Practical Experience

Grabbing your dream job as soon as possible can be challenging because several jobs need practical experience. This is why all capstone projects offer the students practical and theoretical experience. As employers are constantly searching for candidates who are well-versed in the practical application of the learned information, the capstone project proves extremely beneficial for the students' careers. 

Prepare Yourself For the Outside World

The capstone project is structured to consolidate the student's previous years of learning with appropriate practical experience to help them build themselves into well-learned graduates. Students combine into small groups to develop creative answers for reasonable issues, all while learning the crucial experiences required in the responsibilities and demands of the real world.

Stand Competitive in the Job Market and Build an Attractive CV

When you undertake a capstone project, you represent to employers that you’re passionate about building essential skills and fundamental academic qualifications. Your dedication level is displayed when you invest effort and time in boosting your skills, gaining practical work experience, and working hard for the project. Moreover, by completing a capstone project, you stand out from other candidates when applying for a job. 

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There are multiple capstone project examples. Each student is assigned a capstone project that best suits their skills and degree. Each project requires the students to implement the best process of doing things and to be creative. Every capstone project is highly research-intensive and requires students to present their skills and implement strategies that help them understand things better, along with developing critical and analytical skills.

Applied Research Capstone Project

In the applied research capstone projects, the students collaborate with international partners to conduct research that connects borders. This idea is to research subjects about the global context to explore things happening around the world. This project aims to bring solutions that can bring improvement to the world.

Creative Capstone Research Project

A creative capstone project is a project where students come up with excellent ideas to explore. The main motive behind this project is that students must be forced to think creatively and out of the box by making the best use of their critical thinking abilities. This project results in receiving useful insights from students in different fields, which improves the situation in regard to practical implications.

Action Research Capstone Project

In an action research capstone project, students promote continuous improvement and learning in a particular field. These projects are usually performed in education, psychology, medicine, and other fields. The main motive is to promote research and invent new methods through continuous research about new topics that may have crucial implications for the world.

Traditional Capstone Project

A traditional capstone project is like a regular capstone project in which students perform in-depth research in the field in which they are studying. The main goal is to conduct research that allows you to explore the things you are studying. Hence, selecting the right research question is important. You must select something that you have an interest in, and that will provide you with in-depth insights.

A capstone project is like any other project, with the primary goal of providing you with practice and experience in your particular field. It allows for a broader range of methodologies, potentially incorporating experiential learning, case studies, or simulations.

The main components of a capstone paper are as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology
  • Recommendations

Many people believe that a thesis paper and a capstone project are similar; however, they are not. The thesis focuses more on an exploration-based approach to evaluate the students' capacities. On the other hand, a capstone project evaluates the type and status of the student. One similarity between a thesis and a capstone project is that both need project execution, data collection, and outcome. In a thesis, students are required to add new learnings and thoughts. However, in a capstone project, students must collect data and provide outcomes regarding their benefit or as per their formal education.

Undertaking a capstone project requires students to gather information, conduct interviews, and examine subjects. Moreover, the whole procedure, from starting to work on your paper to completing it, raises the value of your resume and demonstrates that you hold the inspiration and diligence to complete all capstone projects.

Moreover, it helps the students boost their project management, oral communication, examination, and critical thinking abilities when working on their capstone project. If you want to upscale new-age technologies and essential industry skills, enrolling in these programs would be a better start:

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1. What are the objectives of a Capstone Project?

The major objective of a capstone project is to produce original, high-quality work that contributes to the students' professional and academic development.

2. Who typically completes a Capstone Project?

A capstone project, which is a multi-faceted academic experience, is basically required for final-year students of an academic program to complete this project.

3. What disciplines require Capstone Projects?

Usually, Capstones are needed in programs, including practical learning and application of skills. These programs include business, computer, science, engineering, education, healthcare, and social sciences.

4. How long does a Capstone Project take to complete?

Completing a Capstone project might include a few beats or several months. Therefore, time management and project planning are essential to ensure that students can complete the project within the provided time frame.

5. How are Capstone Projects assessed?

The capstone project is assessed based on the capstone grading algorithm. An individual's grade is based on their team product development project performance (80%) and professional development (20%).

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Capstone Projects

The Capstone is a culminating academic project experience that is completed within the confines of a semester-length course. Several Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) fields either require a capstone or offer the option to pursue one. In addition to the information below, review  Guide to the ALM Capstone Project website.

Types of Capstones

We offer two forms of capstone: Capstone Course (faculty directed) and Capstone Independent Project (student directed).

Capstone Course–Faculty Directed

For the ALM fields of anthropology, biotechnology, creative writing and literature, computer science, cybersecurity, data science, English, government, history, international relations, math for teaching, psychology, religion, and systems engineering capstones are courses designed by faculty members who bring together, in a structured syllabus, all the key learning outcomes of the field of study.

Our cybersecurity, data science, and computer science capstones are team-based projects that have a real-world industry partner as the client for your research.

While our creative writing capstone allows for ample room to work on individual artistic projects, but with the added benefit of weekly engagement with peers and the instructor–a supportive writer’s community.

Every effort is made to offer the same precapstone/capstone topics each year (e.g., human development, policy analysis, and social justice); however, topics are subject to change annually.

Good academic standing. You must be good academic standing to register for the capstone. If not, you’ll need to complete additional courses to bring your GPA up to the 3.0 minimum prior to registration. For detailed course description information, including specific registration requirements, such as credit minimums and academic standing requirements, use the Degree Course Search .

Tip:  Register on the first day of early degree-candidate registration to obtain a seat in these limited-enrollment courses.

Precapstones

The ALM fields of anthropology, biotechnology, computer science, creative writing and literature, cybersecurity, data science, English, government, history, international relations, psychology, religion and systems engineering have a required precapstone course that must be completed with a grade of B- or higher.

Mandatory Sequencing of Precapstones/Capstones. You enroll in the precapstone and capstone courses in back-to-back semesters (fall/spring), with the same instructor, and in your final academic year.

Due to heavy workload demands, all your other degree requirements must be fulfilled prior to capstone registration. The capstone must be taken alone as your one-and-only remaining degree requirement. You cannot register in any other courses along with the capstone.

It is critical that you draw upon your entire ALM training to produce a project worthy of a Harvard degree by committing to full-time study in the capstone.

Engaging in Scholarly Conversation . For precapstones in anthropology, English, government, history, international relations, psychology or religion, you need to have completed Engaging in Scholarly Conversation prior to precapstone registration. If you were admitted after 9/1/2023, Engaging in Scholarly Conversation (A and B) is required; if admitted before 9/1/2023, this series is encouraged.

Attempts . You have a maximum of two attempts at the precapstone course to earn the required grade of B- or higher. If after two attempts, you have not fulfilled the requirement (a WD grade is considered an attempt), your degree candidacy will expire. If by not passing the precapstone you fall into poor academic standing, you will need to take additional degree-applicable courses to return to good standing before enrolling in the precapstone for your second and final time.

The second attempt policy is only available if your five-year, degree-completion deadline allows for more time.  If you attempt to complete the precapstone in your final year and don’t pass (including a WD grade), your candidacy will automatically expire. 

For detailed course description information, visit the Degree Course Search .

Capstone Independent Project–Student Directed

For global development practice, digital media design, journalism, museum studies, and sustainability, capstones are client-based or independent research projects focused on a current issue or problem that has become compelling for you during your course of study. The project represents your academic passion and professional interest. You complete the research individually (journalism) or in a classroom setting with fellow candidates (all other fields).

Journalism candidates should scroll down to Journalism Capstone. The following applies to:

  • Global Development Practice
  • Digital media design
  • Museum studies
  • Sustainability

Registration in the capstone for the above fields has the following prerequisites: (1) your specific research project must be approved several months in advance (prior to enrolling in the precapstone tutorial), (2) you must successfully complete the precapstone tutorial, and (3) the capstone must be your final, one-and-only remaining degree requirement. You cannot register for any other courses along with the capstone.

There are two major steps to obtain project approval.

Step one:  obtain advice right away. Once admitted to the program, meet with your research advisor early and often about your initial capstone research interests. He or she can provide support as well as course selection advice as you develop preliminary ideas. Please note that while every effort is made to support your capstone interest, guidance is not available for all possible projects. Therefore, revision or a change of capstone topic may be necessary.

  • For museum studies your capstone will have a main focus on (1) business of museums, (2) collections care, (3) exhibition design, (4) museum education, or (5) technology. Whatever focus you choose, you must have at least two courses completed in that area before enrolling in the precapstone tutorial. If not, your enrollment will not be approved.
  • Due to the highly technical nature of their projects, digital media students must meet with their research advisor, Dr. Hongming Wang, to discuss their capstone topics according to the following schedule. Between January 2 and February 15 for summer precapstone and between May 1 and July for the fall precapstone. Appointments can be scheduled through the Degree Candidate Portal. 
  • Step two:  register for the noncredit tutorial. The semester before capstone registration (no earlier), you are required to (1) enroll in the noncredit Precapstone tutorial, (2) visit the  Guide to the ALM Capstone Project website  to read through the tutorial guidelines, and (3) submit your prework by the required deadline (see below in bold).

Prework demonstrates that you have done enough prior reading and research on your topic to begin the capstone proposal process. Registration in the tutorial is limited to degree candidates who submit quality prework. If your prework is not approved, you will need to spend time revising in order to re-submit for the next offering of the tutorial, if your five-year, degree-completion deadline allows.

Once registered in the noncredit tutorial, you will receive guidance and mentoring while you iterate on your individual capstone proposal until the document reaches a satisfactory quality. The tutorial is not a course in the traditional sense. You work independently on your proposal with your research advisor by submitting multiple proposal drafts and scheduling individual appointments (ordinarily, during the hours of 9-5). You need to make self-directed progress on the proposal without special prompting from the research advisor.  While the tutorial is noncredit, your due diligence throughout the semester is required.

If you do not have a proposal that is close to being approved by the semester’s withdrawal deadline, you’ll need to withdraw from the tutorial, delay capstone registration, and re-take the capstone proposal tutorial again in a future semester, if your five-year, degree-completion deadline allows.

  • For the fall capstone, you complete the proposal tutorial during the prior summer term: Register for the Summer Precapstone tutorial March 1. Submit the first draft of the preproposal between  March 1 and May 15 . Actively participate in the tutorial during the summer and end the term with an approved proposal. Register and complete capstone in fall.
  • For the spring capstone, you complete the proposal tutorial during the prior fall term: Register for the Fall Precapstone tutorial when registration opens in mid-July. Submit the first draft of the preproposal between  July 18 and August 1 . Actively participate in the tutorial during the fall and end the term with an approved proposal. Register and complete the capstone in spring.
  • For the summer capstone, you complete the proposal tutorial during the prior spring: Register for the spring Precapstone tutorial when registration open in early November. Submit the first draft of the preproposal between  November 7 and January 2 . Actively participate in the Capstone Proposal Tutorial during the spring and end the term with an approved proposal. Register and complete capstone in summer. This sequence (spring tutorial, summer capstone) is required for international students who need a student visa.

Please note that not all fields offer a capstone each term. Refer to your field’s Degree Course Search for the schedule. 

Human Subjects

If your capstone will involve the use of human subjects (e.g., subject interviews, surveys, observations), review the Human Subjects section on the  Guide to the ALM Capstone Project  website  to learn Harvard University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval process.

Journalism Capstone

Over the course of the capstone semester for  JOUR E-599 , you’ll conduct an in-depth investigation of a single topic and emerge with a portfolio of new work suitable for publishing, posting, or broadcasting. The portfolio requires you to produce several (at least three) related stories on one topic written specifically for the capstone course. (No prior work can be used.) The stories are completed over the course of one semester.

You can register for the capstone once you complete 36 credits, and you work independently to complete the project within a semester time frame. The capstone can be, and often is, completed at a distance.

To begin the capstone approval process, you schedule an appointment with your research advisor, June Erlick, ( [email protected]) , to discuss your capstone ideas. 

While every effort is made to support your capstone interest, guidance is not available for all possible projects. Therefore, revisions or a change of capstone topic may be necessary before it is approved.  As in all traditional journalism, projects must take a fair and balanced view by bringing in differing points of view.  Projects should not be one-sided or take an advocacy stance.

Once a topic is approved, you submit the first draft of your capstone proposal. (Visit the  Guide to the ALM Capstone Project website  to read the specific guidelines for Crafting the Capstone Proposal). Ms. Erlick supports you through the fine tuning of the proposal and works with the Journalism program office to identify a capstone director. Once approved, capstone topics cannot be changed. In the unlikely event that you cannot continue with the project as approved, you must request and receive written permission to pursue a new topic from Ms. Erlick.  

A capstone director is a journalism instructor or professional in the field who has expertise relevant to your capstone topic. The final decision about who will serve as director is made by the Journalism program office; however, you are welcome to request a particular instructor. However, we ask that you  not  contact an instructor directly prior to capstone approval.

You are expected to work independently on your project with support and direction from the director. The capstone director will meet with you several times over the semester to answer questions, discuss your progress, read drafts, and offer feedback. The director also grades the final project.

Journalism Timeline

  • Fall capstone: Meet to discuss capstone ideas by May 1. Submit first draft of capstone proposal by June 1.
  • Spring capstone: Meet to discuss capstone ideas by September 1. Submit first draft of capstone proposal by October 1.
  • Summer capstone: Meet to discuss capstone ideas by February 1. Submit first draft of capstone proposal by March 1

Final Capstone Grade

You need to earn a grade of B- or higher to earn degree credit for the capstone. If you earn a grade below a B– (including a WD), you will need to petition the Administrative Board for permission to enroll in the capstone for one final time. The Board only reviews cases in which extenuating circumstances prevented the successful completion of the capstone.

Moreover, the petition process is only available if your five-year, degree-completion deadline allows for more time. Your candidacy will automatically expire if you do not successfully complete the capstone requirement by your required deadline.

If approved for a second attempt, you may be required to repeat the precapstone course or the non-credit precapstone tutorial. Please note that you cannot choose a different precapstone/capstone sequence to gain additional (more than two) attempts at fulfilling the capstone requirement for your degree.

If by not passing the capstone you fall into poor academic standing, you’ll need to take additional degree-applicable courses to return to good standing before enrolling in the capstone for your second and final time. This is only an option if your five-year, degree-completion deadline allows for more time to take additional courses.

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Computational and Systems Biology

  • Capstone Option 2: C&S BIO 198A & 198B

Capstone Option 2: C&S BIO 198A & 198B is designed for students completing research in a UCLA faculty member’s lab who need more flexibility with the timing of their Capstone courses or want to complete their thesis more independently. 

About Capstone Option 2

Required Courses:  C&S BIO 198A (4 Units) AND C&S BIO 198B (4 Units)

For Option 2, students will engage in directed honors research with a UCLA faculty member while taking C&S BIO 198A and C&S BIO 198B, each for 4 units. Students will be expected to complete the same deliverables as those taking M187: a senior thesis paper, poster, and presentation. At the end of C&S BIO 198A, students will be required to submit tangible evidence of the work completed (i.e., a preliminary/partial draft of their thesis paper), as specified in the 198A contract, to the supervising faculty mentor.

In C&S BIO 198B, students will complete the three deliverables described here with feedback from their supervising faculty mentor and submit them to the faculty mentor and the department. Grades will be assigned by the faculty mentor. A grade will not be assigned for 198A until a student completes 198B (the grade will show as in progress). Students must complete both classes to receive a grade for either course.

Planning for Capstone Option 2 Courses

C&S BIO 198A and 198B should be taken in sequence. A grade for C&S BIO 198A will not be assigned until 198B is completed. Since these are individual contract courses, they can be taken any quarter, but it is recommended that students complete them during their 4 th year.

Research Expectations for Capstone Option 2

Students are expected to find their own research project prior to starting the Capstone courses. Students are required to complete, at minimum, two quarters of research supervised by a UCLA ladder faculty member while they are enrolled in the Capstone courses. Students are advised, however, to start early, ideally finding a project in their junior year. Some research labs will not accept senior students due to the amount of time it takes to train and onboard a new student into the lab. Therefore, starting in the junior year is recommended.

Students pursuing Option 2 complete their Capstone deliverables more independently than those who take Capstone Options 1 or 3, so it is recommended that students in Option 2 have a strong relationship with their faculty mentor.

For the Capstone research, students will want to find a ladder faculty member (rank of assistant professor, associate professor, professor—not an adjunct or lecturer) who will agree to supervise their thesis. A faculty member who has “In Residence” listed after their professorial rank is fine (e.g., Associate Professor In Residence). Students can check faculty member titles via the  UCLA Directory . If students are unsure if the Primary Investigator (PI) they hope to work with is a ladder faculty member, please send questions via Message Center .

The goal is to find some part of a project for which the student can be the lead person that creates a coherent and contained research story, even if it is contributing to a larger goal or project by the faculty member/PI (usually it is). The individual part (i.e. student contribution) should involve some aspect of math modeling, computational simulation, or data analysis, so that there is a quantitative/mathematical/computational piece. The research should also be connected to a biological question. In the end, students should look for a project for which they can explain and justify a goal, then communicate what they did to achieve said goal. For the purposes of the Capstone classes, the research needs to be enough for a coherent story: a 10-minute presentation, a poster, and an approximately 10 pages or longer paper.

Students are encouraged to fill out a  Research Compact  to outline goals and expectations for the project. Students should also provide their faculty mentor with a copy of  Expectations for PIs Supervising CaSB Capstone Research Projects  document.

Enrolling in the Capstone Option 2 Courses

C&S BIO 198A, and 198B are contract courses. Enrollment requires the creation of a contract between the student and the professor who will be supervising the research. The contract outlines the research project that the student will be working on and describes what tangible evidence the student will provide at the end of the quarter as evidence of work completed (for 198A this is a partial thesis draft, for 198B it is the three final Capstone deliverables). Contracts are generated via MyUCLA (go to the “Academics” tab and then “Contract Courses”). Students must fill out the contract and obtain their professor’s/PI’s signature. The contract should then be emailed to the CaSB Undergraduate Office no later than Wednesday of Week 2 of the quarter. The CaSB Department Counselor will obtain the second required signature from the CaSB Chair. More info about contract courses can be found here .

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what is a thesis or capstone project

Ava is pursuing a dual degree in business and environmental studies with a minor in nutrition. She grew up on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington and spent most of her life on Dabob Bay. Her passions include sustainable food systems, conservation, and ESG reporting. During Ava’s time at UW, she has participated in a variety of activities but has focused her time particularly on Net Impact and the Dirty Dozen Student Farm Club. As incoming Net Impact President, Ava will continue her work at the intersection of business sustainability and ethics. She will also continue as the undergraduate student representative for the Population Health Initiative. After graduation in 2026, she intends to pursue a career in corporate sustainability or work in the nonprofit sector.

what is a thesis or capstone project

Cyril Clement,  Program on the Environment Undergraduate Scholarship

Cyril is majoring in Environmental Studies and Medical Anthropology and will be graduating in 2026. He is from Bangalore, India, and is interested in the intersections of climate change and public health. He believes that community building is crucial to addressing the biggest issues our world faces. He was the project lead for the first Zero Waste Week, a program with the goal of creating a platform where participants can give the problem of waste generation a more conscious thought and learn about specific actions to mitigate waste production. He co-founded Narcare, a national non-profit and UW student organization that is dedicated to spreading awareness on ways we can protect ourselves and others from the dangers of the opioid crisis. For his anthropology honors thesis, he is exploring the role of health insurance navigators in improving access to healthcare for Washington State’s undocumented residents. He characterizes expanding access to health insurance as an environmental justice policy that can help protect migrant farmworkers from the health risks associated with climate change. Through his further studies and career, he plans to uncover ways to disrupt the policies and systemic mechanisms that contribute to environmental injustice and inequality.  

what is a thesis or capstone project

Sofia Berkowitz is an Environmental Studies major from Denver, Colorado graduating in the spring of 2026. Their focus within the major is on environmental justice and she is planning to minor in Public Policy. She has worked on campus this year with the Campus Sustainability Fund and next year will serve as the Chair of their Committee, as well as well as continuing her leadership role within the Zero Waste Week program. This summer, she is working as the Fundraising and Grants Intern at the non-profit ZeroWaste.Org as a Jackson Munro Public Service Fellow. They hope to use the skills gained through these opportunities to continue advancing local sustainability and equity, both on a social and environmental scale.

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  1. What is the Difference Between Capstone and Thesis

    what is a thesis or capstone project

  2. Capstone Project: Definition, Types, Structure, and Examples

    what is a thesis or capstone project

  3. How to Write a Capstone Project: 8 Steps to Success

    what is a thesis or capstone project

  4. Chemistry Capstone Project Topics That Will Hook Your Audience

    what is a thesis or capstone project

  5. What is the Capstone Project

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  6. capstone and thesis difference

    what is a thesis or capstone project

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COMMENTS

  1. Capstone Project vs. Thesis: What's the Difference?

    The thesis, also called a "dissertation," is a super-sized form of a research paper that serves as the final project before you complete your master's degree or doctoral degree. One of the primary differences between a thesis and a capstone is the scholarly nature of the thesis, which allows you to contribute valuable research to your ...

  2. Capstone vs Thesis: Fundamental Differences Of These Terms

    Identify whether each of the following projects is a capstone or a thesis. A project that requires students to design and implement a new software application. A research project that explores the effects of climate change on coastal communities. A project that requires students to develop a marketing strategy for a local business.

  3. Dissertation vs Thesis vs Capstone Project

    In other words, a thesis is completed for a Masters-level degree, while a dissertation is completed for PhD (or any other doctoral-level degree). Simply put, a dissertation and a thesis are essentially the same thing, but at different levels of study. The exact terminology varies from country to country, and sometimes it even varies between ...

  4. PDF Thesis or Capstone: What to Consider

    WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A THESIS AND A CAPSTONE? In many ways a thesis and a capstone are similar. 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 ...

  5. Dissertation vs Thesis vs Capstone Project: Full Explainer (+ FREE

    It's a showdown! Dissertation vs Thesis vs Capstone Project. We explain the differences and similarities between these types of research projects in straight...

  6. What Is a Capstone Project: Definition, Types, Writing Steps

    A capstone project is a comprehensive, culminating academic endeavor undertaken by students typically in their final year of study. It synthesizes their learning experiences, requiring students to apply the knowledge, skills, and competencies gained throughout their academic journey. A capstone project aims to address a real-world problem or ...

  7. What is the Difference Between Capstone and Thesis

    A thesis is more scholarly in nature than a capstone project. Level of Education. Capstone projects can be done by high school students, college students, etc., whereas theses are required in higher levels of academia, usually in undergraduate honours degrees, masters, or doctorate levels. Final Product. In a capstone project, the final product ...

  8. What is a capstone project? And why is it important?

    The capstone project is a unique opportunity to carry out independent group research in order to devise an innovative solution for a real-world problem. While a project of this scope and scale can be challenging, it can also be very rewarding. The capstone project is usually the final assignment and plays a vital role in preparing students for ...

  9. Everything About Capstone Projects: An In-Depth Guide

    The capstone project marks the exhilarating, and sometimes daunting, summit. This culminating assignment is a staple in many degree programs, providing students with a unique opportunity to synthesize their learning, apply their skills to real-world challenges, and showcase their readiness for the professional world. ... Thesis Statement: If ...

  10. What is a Capstone Course?

    A capstone paper may be 25 pages, whereas a thesis could be 100 or more. If you choose to further your education beyond a bachelor's degree, the capstone project could be an invaluable tool in preparing for a graduate thesis. Capstone Projects are About Your Success. Capstones of all programs are leading you to the end game, Czarnec said.

  11. What Is the Difference Between a Capstone and a Thesis?

    The main difference between a capstone project and a thesis is that a capstone project addresses a specific problem, issue or concern in your field of study, and a thesis attempts to create new knowledge. A **capstone project focuses on a narrow, specific topic**, whereas a **thesis addresses a broader, generalized ...

  12. What Is a Capstone Project?

    A capstone project is a multifaceted academic experience typically required for students during the final year of an academic program. It is a comprehensive and interdisciplinary project that often requires students to apply the knowledge and skills acquired throughout their academic careers to solve real-world problems or issues.

  13. Capstone Project Definition

    A capstone project is a multifaceted assignment that serves as a culminating academic experience for students, typically at the end of high school. Skip to the content ... While similar in some ways to a college thesis, capstone projects may take a wide variety of forms, but most are long-term investigative projects that culminate in a final ...

  14. Capstone Project: Definition, Types, Structure, and Examples

    A thesis is guided by a research question resulting in the addition of new knowledge to the field, while a capstone project is guided by the practical importance of the project to the field. A thesis involves academic research and analysis, while a capstone project can be anything including a dance or film.

  15. What Is a Capstone Project in University?

    A capstone project is an independent assignment that encapsulates students' academic learning and demonstrates their proficiency in a specific discipline or field. The focus is on individual research, problem-solving, or creative endeavors, providing a medium to demonstrate the knowledge acquired as students finish their studies.

  16. Writing your thesis or capstone project report

    With electronic publication, the full text of your electronic thesis, capstone project report, or final independent report or essay is freely accessible world-wide on the Internet. Electronic publication of your document typically results in more recognition of your research work, wider dissemination of scholarly information, and acceleration ...

  17. Thesis and Capstone Requirements for Psychology Programs

    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. Often involving scholarly and clinical ...

  18. PDF Thesis, Project, or Capstone Course; what's the difference?

    A thesis, a project or the capstone course is required to complete the requirements of the MS in Computing Security program. It should demonstrate your ability as professional and as a creative and independent thinker. ... CSEC 790 MS Thesis - This course is a capstone course in the MS in Computing Security program. It offers

  19. Choosing Project or Thesis

    A project involves curriculum or program development and applies theory to practice, while a thesis is a traditional research capstone where a candidate for an advanced degree gathers data, analyzes that data, and presents the results along with their interpretations. Whereas a project creates a product that is often used in a professional ...

  20. Online MBA Capstone Projects and Thesis Guide

    An MBA thesis functions similarly to a capstone in some regards, but the two projects maintain notable differences. While capstones address practical business problems, thesis projects draw on original research to contribute new knowledge to the field of business. This section outlines major components of an MBA thesis.

  21. LibGuides: CAPSTONE PROJECT: Parts of a Capstone Project

    What a Table of Contents Could Contain. I Introduction. A Statement Of Problem/Opportunity (Research Question) B Background, Context, And Significance Of Study. C Project Researcher Identification. II Literature Review. A Subheadings (Themes Discovered In Review) B Notice Of Gaps In Knowledge. III Methods.

  22. Capstone Projects Explained: Start Your Journey!

    Capstone Project vs Thesis Paper. Many people believe that a thesis paper and a capstone project are similar; however, they are not. The thesis focuses more on an exploration-based approach to evaluate the students' capacities. On the other hand, a capstone project evaluates the type and status of the student. One similarity between a thesis ...

  23. Capstone Projects

    The Thesis Process; Capstone Projects; Pursue Your Own Undergraduate Research Project; Submit Intent to Graduate and Participate in Commencement; Premedical Program Benefits; Student Policies and Conduct; The Capstone is a culminating academic project experience that is completed within the confines of a semester-length course. Several Master ...

  24. Capstone Option 2: C&S BIO 198A & 198B

    The contract outlines the research project that the student will be working on and describes what tangible evidence the student will provide at the end of the quarter as evidence of work completed (for 198A this is a partial thesis draft, for 198B it is the three final Capstone deliverables).

  25. Congratulations 2024 Scholarship Recipients!

    For his anthropology honors thesis, he is exploring the role of health insurance navigators in improving access to healthcare for Washington State's undocumented residents. He characterizes expanding access to health insurance as an environmental justice policy that can help protect migrant farmworkers from the health risks associated with ...

  26. Spring Quarterly Crossroads

    Spring Quarterly Crossroads. The Quarterly Crossroads is a quarterly newsletter of leadership updates, school highlights, student stories, news and upcoming events for the School of STEM.

  27. PDF Environmental & Sustainability Studies Emphasis: Air, Water, & Health BA/BS

    CAPSTONE (Required): Offered Spring Semester *ENVST 5559: Capstone in Air, Water & Health C- or better in all major courses 2.25 Cum. GPA 12 credit hours total can be transferred from another university, only 7 credit hours of those can be lower division @uofuenvst Select ONE: Complete ALL courses: Complete ALL courses: