Many students want to know: “What is a capstone project?” If you approach your graduation, you will definitely have to deal with this assignment. But what is it? And why is it so necessary for graduation? In order to answer all these questions, it is important to define this type of writing first.
Capstone Project Meaning
Capstone project meaning derives its roots from architecture. Generally, capstone is a final stone that is lad as a symbol of building completion. Similarly, capstone project is the final project that serves as a sign of education completion. This type of writing is aimed at checking the knowledge of students obtained during the course of their degree program. It helps reveal students’ competency and level of preparation.
Thesis or Capstone Project Proposal
Students often wonder what is more important: thesis or capstone project proposal? Actually, the aim of both types of writing is quite the same, which is to demonstrate the knowledge of a specific topic. In the process of completion of both assignments, a student has to apply analytical skills and show what he/she has learned during the course.
However, the difference between the two is that thesis is a work that supports a specific claim by providing pieces of evidence and arguments. For example, thesis can support a claim that the US immigration policy of a modern period is discriminatory and has to overcome sufficient changes.
At the same time, a capstone project is aimed at revealing practical skills of a student. The assignment may be submitted in a form of a series of essays united by the same topic. For example, it may deal with the civil rights movement by creating respective materials dealing with historical events related to the topic.
In the process of capstone project writing, the writer may also be required to work with primary documents to provide credible information or to create a visual presentation of the topic (exhibition, presentations, etc.).
The other similar feature of the papers is that both of them have to be approved by a committee. Its members check the theses or capstone projects in order to make sure that they meet the requirements of the specific university and its program.
Process of Writing Thesis and Capstone Project
Considering that both thesis and capstone project summarize the obtained knowledge, students should start mulling over the topics of their papers at the beginning of a program. It will make easier for them to concentrate on the important aspects of the course to use this information in the future.
Methods of Research
Before choosing the proper methodology for your thesis or capstone project, it is recommended to visit a research methods seminar, which will be useful for further work.
Such seminars are organized with two main purposes:
- The first purpose is to explain to students what research methods exist and how to use them in the process of conducting research, as well as to present techniques that can be applied in the process of writing thesis or capstone project.
- Second, the seminars are aimed at providing guidance for the students in regard to how to develop their thesis or capstone project properly.
A student may consider himself/herself to be on the right track with his/her thesis or capstone project only after it receives approval of project advisor, second reader, and instructor.
A student starts working on his thesis/capstone project under supervision of a research method instructor. Together, they discuss and select a person who can be a project advisor and contact him/her with an offer to take part in the project preparation. In case the person agrees, he will be a contact person during the whole working process. After that, the second reader is chosen. The role of this person is to approve the project after it was approved by the instructor and the advisor.
A student has a right to submit a part of his paper (approximately 20 pages) to the instructor to read. If the instructor thinks that the paper is not good for a thesis or a capstone project but a student has a different opinion, he can ask another instructor to check the paper. In case two instructors have different viewpoints on the issue, a third party from the faculty can be involved.
The approval of thesis/capstone project means that a student is ready to undertake the work, that the paper meets the requirements of master’s degree program, that the scope of the paper is suitable, and that the quality of paper meets the required specifications.
If an advisor changes, the project should be re-approved. Still, after all signatures are gathered, the project is further reviewed by the chair and the director of the educational institution.
After all the approvals are gathered, a student can start working on the project. However, the first step is to register the project/thesis.
Completing the Work
In order to be effective, the working process has to be well-scheduled. A student and his/her advisor are supposed to set dates for meetings and checking the report progress. The task of a student, in this case, is to make sure that the work is done on time. For this reason, the deadline for the first draft is also set and has to be met.
Proper thesis or capstone project has to meet the specific requirements of the educational institution if other is not indicated. The format of the paper has also to be specified prior to work start. Turabian or Chicago formats are considered to be the most appropriate for theses writing.
The final step of thesis/capstone project preparation is creating a Cover Page. After the work is done, the cover page is signed and sent alongside with the project to the advisor for checking. A student has to clarify the format of cover page to avoid confusion.
After the work is checked, it has to be attested by the advisor and the second reader. Their task is to make sure that the work meets the requirements of a specific degree. Only after it is done, they can sign a thesis/capstone approval form. This form is submitted along with the final version of thesis/capstone to the chair. In addition to the second reader and the advisor, the instructor also has to sign the form. After the signatures of the director and the chair are put on the document, it means that the project was successfully completed.
The time for completing the project is two years after approval by all parties. However, in some cases, it can be extended by one more year. There are cases when the projects were extended even more but such extension requires additional approval by Faculty Committee.
Capstones: Are They the Same?
Even though all capstone projects are aimed at the same thing (testing students’ knowledge in a specific field), the approaches to completing them may differ. Usually, capstone is original research, which is directed at solving some particular problem. Without any doubts, it has to be done using the obtained knowledge as it is tightly connected to the information learned during taking a degree program. In most cases, capstone project assignments are given for students of humanitarian programs. However, sometimes, capstone projects are also assigned for business students, who are supposed to produce some solutions in the sphere of management, etc.
How to Do a Capstone Project?
The beginning of every project starts with outlining a problem that has to be solved. After choosing the issue, a student has to identify its main elements that will serve as the theoretical basis of the project. After that, the approaches towards problem solving have to be identified, which will serve as hypotheses. These two elements form the basis of your project. However, in order to use them, you will have to approve the project first and only after that continue working on it.
Do Online Students Have to Do Capstone Projects?
It mostly depends on the program. However, in case the program requires a student to submit a project, it has to be done. One of the main differences between traditional and online students is the way the information is presented to them. Consequently, capstone is most often are required from the online students.
Properly written and successfully completed capstone project serves as a proof of your professionalism and readiness to work in a chosen field. Consequently, it has to be treated responsibly.