What Is A Capstone Project In Graduate Schools? And Its Importance

As a student, you might have heard about the capstone project and a question that might pop in your mind is “what is a capstone project?”.

Capstone projects, while they vary from university to university, are usually more “experiential” projects where students take what they’ve learned throughout the course of their graduate program and apply it to examine a specific idea. 

The reason it’s called a capstone is because it is the crowning project that marks the completion of all requirements to graduate with a Masters Degree.

However, to understand why a capstone is required in so many programs, you need to know what it is. This article will cover what a capstone project is all about and also its importance.

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What Is A Capstone Project?

A capstone project also called a (capstone experience, culminating project, or senior exhibition)  is an assignment that has many aspects that serve 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.

 It is similar to a thesis, but usually results not only in a report, but in a product, a performance or in giving a presentation.

Why Is It Called ‘Capstone’?

The philosophy behind it is quite simple and interesting as well. A capstone, in architectural terms, is the final stone that is laid right on top of a concrete structure to symbolize the completion of the said structure. Apply that to academics, and the capstone project becomes the final stone in the path of your education, signifying its successful end.

Why Do Schools Assign Capstone Project?

Although the projects do showcase your educational accomplishments, they are more about demonstrating that you know how to learn. They are intended to encourage students to use the critical thinking skills they have acquired through their degree programs to solve problems.

Schools also want to see their graduates develop and use public speaking skills. Writing proficiency plays a great part in the assignments because the presentation must usually be accompanied by a portfolio that details the steps you took to reach your conclusion or to create your product.

What Are The Types Of Capstone Projects?

Capstone projects are of many types, and your school has the authority over deciding which type of project you are assigned to. Some of the common types of capstone projects include the following:

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  • Program evaluations
  • Focus groups
  • Surveys
  • Case studies
  • Outcome-based evaluation

There can be other kinds too depending on what your school prefers. However, program evaluations and case studies are the commonest forms.

What Is The Importance Of A Capstone Project?

The main purpose of a capstone project is career advancement. This project has been designed to prepare you for future challenges that come across in your career. In fact, even the topics you are assigned (or even the ones you choose for yourself) are meant to help you analyze real-life problems so that you can find out suitable solutions for them, thereby adding to your wisdom, knowledge, and problem-solving skills.

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A capstone project can help to sharpen your research-making skills. Since there are tons of research work when it comes to composing a capstone project, a student is required to search for something authentic, and this leads to them being able to improve their research-making skills.

It can also offer an excellent platform for you. This means that it can strengthen your basic knowledge in a specific course and offer alternatives as to which academic profession to pursue once you complete your studies.

It can help students discover their interests and pursue the academic field accordingly.

What Are The Goals For A Capstone Project?

There are several goals for a capstone and they often include:

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  • Defining an information problem or opportunity.
  • Decide what techniques are required in order to master this information problem or opportunity.
  • Include all aspects of the information problem – using people, technology, and information.
  • Make a positive difference for the community whether it is a business, school, library, hospital, or other organization.
  • Choose a topic or focus area the students are enthusiastic about.

Capstone Proposals

Before a student can actually take a capstone course to begin implementing their capstone project, many students would need to come up with a comprehensive proposal that will be reviewed by a professor or instructor.

This proposal usually contains an introduction, theories, hypotheses, scholarly literature review, research methods, proposal alternatives, and any other issues relevant to the project proposal.

Each capstone requirement is unique to the student’s program, so it is best that a student continuously consults with a program advisor to make sure their capstone proposal meets the necessary requirements.

What Are The Steps Students Need To Take To Do A Capstone Project?

Irrespective of the form of the capstone project you have been assigned, you will have to take certain steps to complete your project. Here, we will discuss the important steps you need to take:

Step 1: Pick A Topic

Whether you have been asked to write an assignment or anything else, you will have to pick a topic. But be wise when choosing one. Experts suggest that you do not choose topics that involve the analysis of statistical data as well as complex concepts and ideas that are too hard to fathom for the readers.

Instead, you should choose topics that focus on real-life situations and one that involves the application of a specific principle that you learned during your course.

Step 2: Submit Your Proposal

Once you have chosen a topic, you will have to come up with a proposal and submit it to your supervisor, or advisor. Yes, much like the thesis, you have an advisor for your capstone project too.

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Your proposal should be nearly 40 pages long, and it should adequately introduce the topic you have chosen. You will also have to state the pre-existing theories on your topic as well as your own hypothesis in this proposal. The sections of the literature review and methodology will also be a part of it.

Step 3: Start Working On It


If your proposal gets accepted, you should start working on your capstone project immediately. You may have to conduct a little bit more research than you already have.

Start writing immediately because finishing a capstone project will take a very long time. This is because these projects can be listed as courses in the academic catalog of your school academic catalog, and you will have to devote a semester or a year to it.

What Are The Requirements For A Capstone Project?

Before an individual can complete a capstone project, one must take a series of undergraduate or graduate courses that will give one the theoretical and skills-based knowledge necessary in order to formulate an idea for a capstone proposal.

Classes that are usually required before taking a capstone course usually center around research statistics, ethics, program theory, leadership, and other relevant courses based on the master’s program.

Also, many programs have a GPA requirement before actually completing a capstone course.

Which Programs Usually Require Capstone Projects?

It is very common for master’s programs in social services, public administration, mass communications, and liberal arts to require graduate students to complete a capstone project.

This is because these programs are usually geared towards working professionals and capstone projects give students the ability to take knowledge and theory they have learned and apply in a real-world setting.

How Long Does It Take To Complete A Capstone Project?

This normally will vary from program to program and can be as few as 10 weeks or as many as two semesters depending on the requirements of the program.

It is most common for graduate programs to require a capstone project course that lasts for one semester.

Do Online Students Complete Capstones?

If the program requires one, they do. Online degrees usually follow the same curriculum as traditional degrees, but the material is normally presented differently.

That means if capstones are required of traditional programs, they will be required in online degree paths as well. Although they may, however, be completed in a different format.

What Are The Benefits Of A Capstone Project?

Capstone projects require in-depth research on the chosen topic. They can be frustrating and seem like an unnecessary requirement, but they are beneficial for the student to develop skills.

Students learn to become more inquisitive, develop research plans, and carry out an entire project on their own.

Some of the benefits of capstone projects include:

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Conclusion

A capstone project or capstone experience involves the identification of an existing problem in a real-world setting and the application of learned skills and methods to develop a solution that addresses the problem directly.

A capstone project can also expose you to the latest trends in your field as you will have to carry out extensive research to come up with the solution to the problem you intend to address in your paper.

Capstone Project In Graduate Schools FAQs

Who Helps Me To Decide What Capstone Is Appropriate To Select?

Most students will have an advisor who is a faculty member in their program who will help them select a capstone that is most relevant to their career goals.

What Is A Capstone Project?

A capstone project also called a (capstone experience, culminating project, or senior exhibition)  is an assignment that has many aspects that serve 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.

How Long Does It Take To Complete A Capstone Project?

This normally will vary from program to program and can be as few as 10 weeks or as many as two semesters depending on the requirements of the program. It is most common for graduate programs to require a capstone project course that lasts for one semester.

Do Online Students Complete Capstones?

If the program requires one, they do. Online degrees usually follow the same curriculum as traditional degrees, but the material is normally presented differently. That means if capstones are required of traditional programs, they will be required in online degree paths as well. Although they may however be completed in a different format.

Which Programs Usually Require Capstone Projects?

It is very common for master’s programs in social services, public administration, mass communications, and liberal arts to require graduate students to complete a capstone project. This is because these programs are usually geared towards working professionals and capstone projects give students the ability to take knowledge and theory they have learned and apply in a real-world setting.

Sources


gradschoolhub-what is a capstone project in graduate school
myassignmenthelp-the a to z of capstone projects for students

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