Capstone Project: Masters in Sustainability (MA/MS)
The sustainability capstone is a core requirement of the graduate program in sustainability (M.A. and M.S.). Students are expected to work with the instructor and community partner(s) throughout the duration of the course.
The capstone project integrates the skills and knowledge students have learned in their coursework and demonstrates student competence for prospective employers. Students have the flexibility to define their own project, but the project work is subject to the standards set by the faculty member supervising your work. While the capstone project occurs at end of your graduate studies and is designed to synthesize your cumulative knowledge and skills, it never hurts to start thinking about your project early. You can begin tailoring your research in other classes to fit an area of interest that may inform your final project. If you have trouble defining your own capstone project, the instructor may be able to help find a project for you.
The capstone project will be a two semester-long research project, culminating in a project report in the style of academic journal paper, and a presentation to the class. The first semester (Capstone I) is dedicated to defining and planning the project. The second semester (Capstone II) focuses on executing the project and documenting findings. Typically, students register for Capstone I in the semester before their last semester in the program. Capstone II is normally taken in the final semester of the program.
Download the Sustainability Capstone Outline
Content & Organization
Students are strongly encouraged to take the capstone as an opportunity to produce an intellectual work which eventually leads to a peer-reviewed journal publication. The final product should be organized as follows:
- Project Title
- Student Author(s)
- Course Instructor(s)
- This can be an abstract of your paper
- Key Words
Table of Contents
- List of figures
- List of maps
1.1. Project background
1.2. Problem statement, research question (i.e. goals).
1.3. Overview of document (3-5 sentences briefing the contents of subsequent sections).
1.4. Optionally describe your study area if appropriate
2. Literature Review
2.1. What has been already done?
2.2. How the issue is framed in the literature?
2.3. What is the existing problem?
2.4. What will be the expected research contribution to the related field?
3. Study area
(if not covered in the Introduction section)
4. Data and Methods
What methods and data are you going to use to address the problem and answer the research question?
- What did you discover?
- Describe, in detail, what you learned in your investigation.
- Explain the figures, charts and tables generated from your methodology.
- Discuss your results in a broader context of the problem you are investigating. For example, what might be the causes of your results? Its association with the practices related to sustainability?
- Based on your findings, what sorts of policy recommendations do you feel need to be developed?
- Based on your findings and policy recommendations, what sorts of implications do you foresee for your study area? For the larger community?
- Clear Statement of purpose (problem statement) and focus.
- Link to the larger purpose, as demonstrated in the literature.
- Appropriate methodology and one in which you have experience.
- Demonstrates understanding of methods, link to concepts and the nature of data.
- Clear statement of findings.
Presentation and Language Style
- Grammatically correct.
- Appropriate and consistent research citation and documentation.
- Maps, appropriately generated and designed.
- Appropriate graphics to display data and the results of analysis.
- Visual materials to support presentation of the context of your problem.
This is a very general guideline. You will need to be in constant contact with your capstone advisor for exact deadlines pertaining to your candidacy.
MOS Capstone I (semester prior to graduation):
- Select faculty advisors.
- Submit a clearly focused problem statement including your research question and general plan.
- Submit IRB application (if your work involves human subjects, or interviews containing identifiable personal information you wish to publish).
- Submit Capstone Proposal & preliminary bibliography.
- Complete at least sections 1-4 in the outlines above.
MOS Capstone II (graduating semester):
- Complete the rest of your capstone project as outlined above.
- Complete candidacy procedures and application for degree.
- Submit rough draft of your capstone project.
- Make revisions.
- Submit penultimate draft of capstone project.
- Make revisions.
- Submit final, bound and edited, capstone and electronic portfolio.