Capstone Guide

Capstone Project

The Master of Arts in Policy Studies curriculum culminates in BPOLST 515 Capstone in Summer Quarter.

See Dates and Deadlines for Capstone Pre-proposal and Capstone Proposal due dates.

The capstone project is a significant element of the Policy Studies curriculum. It integrates students’ learning experience in the program and gives them an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to apply the tools of policy research, analysis, and engagement to a contemporary policy issue. While the capstone project is not intended to involve extensive original investigation, any conclusions reached must be so supported that their proof is considered well-established.

The entire Policy Studies curriculum scaffolds the development of your capstone by providing critical and analytical skills, as well as methods and frameworks for research and engagement. Students’ capstones may contribute to a pre-existing and on-going research project, and many students’ capstones will directly serve community partners’ needs. All students should be working in partnership with faculty, primarily through the Capstone Advisor.

Learning Objectives

In fulfilling their capstone requirement, Policy Studies students demonstrate their abilities to:

  • Read and interpret published research in a policy area of inquiry
  • Research questions of interest in applied, real-world settings
  • Draw conclusions and recommendations based on research findings
  • Communicate ideas and research in writing

Norms and Expectations

The capstone is an in-depth research project.  As such, it has a developmental arc that includes identifying a research area, reading in the relevant literature, refining a research question, applying for and receiving IRB approval for any human subjects research, identifying appropriate methods and relevant data, analyzing results and reporting findings.

Note that Institutional Review Board approval must be received before conducting any human subjects research.  Learn more and apply here.

Your capstone advisor will be your guide in this process.  To help you execute your project successfully, you are:

  • encouraged to commit to process and the project that you have proposed. Significant changes to your capstone plans, particularly after the proposal is finalized, can extend your time to degree.
  • discuss difficulties you are encountering with your research with your capstone advisor, who can guide you in strategies and adaptations.   Research can be full of unexpected surprises: that is part of the process of discovery.