Capstone Seminar

Capstone Seminar

For gradudate students, the Capstone Seminar is designed to integrate and synthesize the student's entire course of study. The course provides a process and structure for the School of Public Affairs faculty to be able 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 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.

Students will complete a graduate-level project which demonstrates their ability to integrate the knowledge and skills they have gained from the MCJ or MPA programs. The project will enable students to demonstrate their:
  • Knowledge of theory, research, and practice in public administration and/or nonprofit management and/or criminal justice
  • Oral communication skills;
  • Written communication skills; and,
  • Critical thinking skills
The goals of the MPA and MCJ programs are to enhance students' skills in each of these areas so that students are able to effectively contribute to their fields and improve programs and policies.

For a more detailed description of the Capstone Seminar, take a look at a sample syllabus (online/on campus).

When dealing with human subjects and other sensitive information, it is important to know the policies and procedures that UCCS and federal regulations follow. The Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects (IRB) is a committee dedicated to upholding these policies in order to protect human subjects. More information on this can be found on the Office of Sponsored Program's website.


Resources for Capstone Students

Capstone Examples:
     Student 1
     Student 2


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Capstone?
The Capstone Seminar in Public Policy and Management and in Criminal Justice is designed to integrate and synthesize your entire course of study. The course provides a process and structure for the SPA faculty to be able 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 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.

Faculty changed title of course from Advanced Seminar to Capstone Seminar last year, so it is now PAD/CJ 5361 Capstone Seminar.

Am I responsible for finding my own project or will SPA help me find a project?
Many students have organizations in mind for which they want to complete a capstone project. Capstone projects can be done with your employing organization, but must be outside the day to day responsibilities of your work. The Associate Dean also keeps lists of community organizations that have projects for students. In any case, the final project - whether one the student has found or one suggested through SPA - must be approved by the course instructor for the semester you are taking the class.

How long is a capstone paper?
Typically about 25 pages.

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 prior to when you anticipate completing your capstone. Students can schedule a meeting with their advisor or the Associate Dean to begin to explore potential capstone ideas at any point in the program.

Do I have to wait until the start of the semester to start work on my project?
This question should be explored with the faculty member who will be teaching the course the semester you plan to take the course. Generally the Associate Dean will be able to provide the teaching schedule for the Capstone Seminar.

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 normal 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 difficult to limit the scope of your project because this may mean saying "no" to your professional colleagues.

What is CITI training and when do I have to take CITI training from the Office of Sponsored Programs?
If you have not taken PAD 5003 or CJ 5361 and completed the training during that course, please complete the CITI training by going to https://www.citiprogram.org/Default.asp (Complete Option One Basic Human Research Course).

Will I need to go through the IRB?
This is determined by the IRB Chair. Information about the IRB process can be obtained from the Office of Sponsored Programs http://www.uccs.edu/~osp/. Direct inquiries can be made to IRB@uccs.edu.

Why do I have to take the course on campus 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.

I'm confused about the structure of the class. Who are my readers? Why are there so many of them?
Your "first reader" is the instructor of record for the course. This person is responsible for working with you and the other two readers to help you successfully complete your project. Your "second reader" is a UCCS faculty member who is as subject-matter expert in your area of research. This person must review and approve your IRB proposal before the first reader signs off on it. Your "third reader" is the client agency representative responsible. While your first reader may offer suggestions of an appropriate second reader, it is your responsibility to contact this person, explain your project, and secure their approval for serving in this capacity. Once your project starts, your second reader will generally focus on project design, literature review, methodology, and conclusions and recommendations for further research. Your third reader will focus on access to data (information) within the client agency, and the soundness of your recommendations for organizational policy and/or practice. All three readers must attend the oral presentation of your project. The first reader assigns your course grade, after reviewing the feedback (rubric) completed by your second and third readers.

Should I do a capstone or a thesis?
This FAQ is complex and there is not one answer for every student. If you think you might be interested in writing a thesis, contact your advisor or the Associate Dean as early as possible.