The Capstone Seminar in Public Administration and Criminal Justice is a culminating experience that allows you to combine the knowledge and skills you learned during your master's degree to complete a professional project.
The course provides a process and structure for the College of Public Service faculty to ensure that all graduates can demonstrate knowledge of the concepts and principles conveyed in the core curriculum of their degree and can apply that knowledge and that gained from elective courses to the analysis of contemporary issues in public administration (including the administration of nonprofit organizations) or criminal justice.
The products of this seminar will be tangible evidence of a degree candidate’s qualifications and expertise. It is not a traditional class but, instead, an experience in which you work with a governmental agency or nonprofit organization to complete a project that is useful to them.
What is the difference between Capstone and Thesis?
While the thesis is also a culminating experience that allows you to combine the knowledge and skills you learned during your master’s degree, the process and final product are quite different.
A master’s thesis is an extensive scholarly paper that allows you to dig into a topic, expand on it and demonstrate how you’ve grown as a graduate student throughout the program. The thesis involves two semesters rather than one. For the thesis, you will not identify a partner agency. Instead, you identify a gap in the scholarly literature and a research question, conduct an extensive literature review, and apply rigorous scientific methods to address your research question. While the thesis can have practical applications, it is much more academic-focused. This is similar to producing an academic journal article.
Lastly, you form a thesis committee of faculty members rather than working with a team of readers. However, the student is the project leader, whether you’re doing a capstone or thesis. If you think you might be interested in writing a thesis, contact your faculty advisor as early as possible.
Students interested in pursuing a thesis must have a cumulative UCCS GPA of 3.50 or higher.
What courses must be completed before you take the Capstone?
To be approved to enroll in Capstone, you must have completed all core classes for your degree program and be in good academic standing.
Additionally, the Capstone is typically the last course in your degree after all electives have been completed and should be taken as a stand-alone course.
One elective may be taken alongside Capstone without approval, if necessary, to complete your degree.
What is Capstone Orientation, and do I need to attend?
Capstone Orientation is an hour-long session to explain the Capstone process and address any questions students might have.
Capstone Orientation occurs each semester for those students who wish to take the Capstone the following semester. It is led by the Capstone Instructor and is offered both virtually and in person to accommodate student schedules.
You must contact the Capstone Instructor to schedule a one-on-one orientation if you cannot attend.
The Capstone Orientation is mandatory and must be completed as part of the Capstone Checklist.
When should I start thinking about my capstone project?
Early in the program. Students are encouraged to attend a Capstone Orientation at least two semesters before they anticipate completing their capstone.
Students can schedule a meeting with their faculty advisor to begin exploring potential capstone ideas at any point in the program.
Do I have to wait until the beginning of the semester to start working on my project?
This question should be explored with the faculty member who will teach the course the semester you plan to take the course. You will also need to coordinate with your faculty advisor.
What are the types of projects people do for the Capstone?
Projects vary widely because they are designed specifically for the organization you will be working with. We encourage you to review some of the projects that have been done in the past to get an idea of the range of possibilities.
How do I find a partner agency for Capstone?
You should consider your interests and identify an organization that aligns with those interests. You will be responsible for reaching out to the organization, explaining the Capstone, and exploring possible projects for you to work on.
The College of Public Service maintains a list of community organizations where students are conducting their projects.
Please get in touch with the Capstone Instructor or your second reader if you need assistance.
Can I complete a project with an agency if they are also my employer?
It depends. The project needs to be outside the scope of your regular job duties. Usually, this means that your client-agency representative is someone other than your immediate supervisor.
The clear advantage of using your employer as a client-agency is that you are familiar with the agency and presumably trusted by them.
The disadvantage is that once you get started, it may be challenging to limit the scope of your project because this may mean saying “no” to your professional colleagues.
Who is the Capstone first reader?
The Capstone first reader is the instructor of record for the semester you are taking the Capstone.
This person will serve as the first reader for all Capstone students enrolled in the course.
You are not required to obtain their permission to serve as your first reader.
Who is the Capstone second reader?
The Capstone second reader is a College of Public Service faculty member who has expertise in the topic area of your Capstone project.
You are required to obtain their permission to serve as your second reader.
Who is the Capstone third reader?
The Capstone third reader is your contact at the organization you are doing work for.
This individual will help ensure that your work is helpful to the organization.
You are required to obtain their permission to serve as your third reader.
What is CITI training?
CITI training is an online series of modules that describe the ethical parameters of doing research that involves human beings.
The training takes 2-3 hours to complete.
Your CITI training must be valid when you are enrolled in Capstone.
In the case that the training has expired, which it does after three years, you will need to complete the modules again before registering for the Capstone.
What is the IRB?
IRB stands for Institutional Research Board. It is a body at UCCS that reviews the methodology for all research projects that involve human subjects.
Will I need to go through the IRB?
You will need to discuss this with your second reader as early as possible.
Why do I have to take the course with other students instead of just doing it as an independent study?
Taking the Capstone as part of a learning community will help you better understand the research process and overcome the obstacles you inevitably face in moving from your research proposal (prospectus) to the finished product.
How do I register for Capstone?
To register for Capstone, follow the HOW TO ENROLL section above and Capstone checklist and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will then be issued a permission number to register for the course.