What Are the Basics of a Capstone Project?
The Capstone Project is an innovative two-semester’s program in which students investigate a given topic or issue of their choosing, engage in the wide-ranging academic debates in their chosen fields, and create a substantial written paper that crystallizes a deep understanding of the topic. This challenging program is one of few “degree” programs that offers full learning satisfaction along with professional development opportunities. The first year of the Capstone Program is dedicated to core courses as well as electives. The second year consists of two semesters: One year is devoted to argumentative topics, the second year to analytic topics. The program offers an outstanding teaching and research opportunities and also a strong alumni network. This article presents the key characteristics of the Capstone Project and examines how they can benefit students.
What is so exceptional about the Capstone Project? In essence, the Capstone Project offers students a chance to gain both research and teaching experience at the same time. The project enables students to conduct original research, present their findings in a writing style acceptable to the Ph.D. program, and engage in meaningful conversations with faculty and fellow students in order to further their professional development.
The Capstone course structure is divided into three distinct units. The first year of study involves in-depth courses in the core areas of mathematics and applied science. Students then select elective courses from the list of approved courses and complete the remaining units in their first two years of graduate studies. In the second year, students again select electives from the approved list of courses and complete all the units in their first two years of graduate studies. At the end of the second year, students enroll in a capstone Master’s degree program in the area of their electives.
Students have the option to choose from a variety of courses, which are designed to help them obtain their advanced degrees. The first four units of the Capstone Project are devoted to courses that help students prepare for their capstone courses at graduation. In these units, students will be presented with projects that require research and analysis skills. The topics of these projects range from the introductory topics in physics to advanced scientific writing. The capstone faculty mentor provides students with a detailed review of each project and assists them in developing a strong research portfolio.
The fifth and final unit of the Capstone course is centered on the course itself. Students will be required to write a research paper on an assigned topic. The paper is due at the end of the course. The paper is reviewed by the faculty and delivered to the student at home. Students will be required to read the paper and participate in group discussions. The Capstone course provides a detailed overview of the concepts and tools associated with research papers.
Students will also complete a self-grading project in the fifth year of the Capstone course. This project is designed to assess how well students have learned the materials from the course. Students will be given an outline of an introductory course and will be asked to describe what they learned in these units. The self-grading project provides a final evaluation of the material students have learned and is a valuable tool to ensure that students have learned all that they need to know.
Projects are conducted throughout the year at various campuses around the country. Students in need of help completing a capstone course can contact their faculty advisor or simply contact the Graduate Studies Chair at the school offering the course. If you are unable to locate your faculty advisor, contacting the department of graduate studies is usually sufficient. In most cases, students are able to earn their graduate degree in less than one year.
Capstone projects are meant to provide a rigorous, hands-on experience for graduate students. They are meant to prepare students for a career in academe. In addition to providing a study method, capstone projects require strong written and oral communication skills as well as good organization skills. This course is not intended to be easy, but rather challenging.