Congratulations on starting your graduate degree program. You’ll be immersed in what matters to you and your career, advancing your capabilities and knowledge in the field.
Because master’s-level coursework is so focused, you’ll be asked consider and start working on your graduate capstone at the very beginning of your program. Starting early will give you the opportunity to accumulate knowledge in each course and begin applying it to your final project as you go.
During your graduate coursework, you’ll keep a repository of all that you learn, write, and create in an ePortfolio using Chalk & Wire™ software. You’ll start with a professional profile that summarizes your academic and professional history, much like an online resume. Your ePortfolio will also be utilized as part of your capstone project and can be easily shared with potential employers.
Your capstone will require you to define, research, and solve a personal or community issue, a practical business problem, or realize an entrepreneurial opportunity. Your program director and faculty will encourage you to choose an idea that ignites your interest and curiosity.
For example, Grisel Suarez, a project management major from the Seacoast, worked for Easter Seals NH in the Department of Veterans services, during her capstone. She put together a 300-page guide for veterans to help connect them to essential resources such as financial assistance, educational grants, food banks, and more. Upon completion, it was the most comprehensive guide for servicemembers in the state!
You’ll want to think strategically about your project topic as you can use your experience to fill a gap in your resume for a future career or advance your current career. You may also choose to help solve a community or personal issue that can support the larger good. Your program director and faculty will be available to brainstorm and advise you on ways to make your project a reality and you may also access the college’s digital library as a resource throughout your degree program.
Project management students will use the PMBOK® Guide and Standards from the Project Management Institute to plan and execute a substantial real-world project as their capstone. Ultimately, all graduate students will produce a research paper and presentation to share your findings. You’ll use what you’ve learned in class to complete your project, including strategy, research, analytical tools and the decision sciences.
The Capstone Course – A Community Approach
When you reach your final capstone course at the end of your degree program, you’ll attend mandatory Zoom (web conference) sessions with your classmates each week. You’ll also have various presenters attend class to give you further information related to finalizing your project and degree, such as public speaking, career topics, and more. Meeting weekly with your classmates in a virtual face-to-face environment will give you a sense of community as you all move toward completing your capstone. You’ll be able to share questions, concerns, and successes with your group.
The final aspect of your capstone course is your public presentation. You’ll be required to speak about your project for five minutes in-person or via Zoom to a group of peers, classmates, instructors, program directors, and others from the College. While five minutes may seem like a long time to present, you may find, after working on a project that you’re passionate about for many months, that it’s a challenge to provide just the highlights within five minutes.
You’ll also complete a programmatic reflection assignment in your capstone course, where you’ll use journal entries, images, and more to chronicle your experience throughout your graduate program. This reflection will also use your Chalk & Wire™ ePortfolio.
Steps to Creating your Capstone Project:
- Define the problem
- Determine an issue that you’d like to investigate or solve
- Review the literature
- Has the topic been studied before? Try to address a gap in current understanding
- Formulate a research question
- What do you expect to find? What question will you seek to answer?
- Design your research process
- Determine how you’ll gather information and test your theory
- Collect your data
- Follow your research process to collect data
- Analyze your data
- Use your data to draw evidence-based conclusions
- Report your findings
- Write your report and present your findings
Your graduate capstone is an opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in a professional way. Your project will give you the chance to solve a personal or community issue, practical business problem, or tackle an entrepreneurial opportunity directly related to your desired career field. Your ePortfolio will allow you to capture your work in an online environment where you can easily share your body of work and industry knowledge with potential employers. You capstone is an excellent opportunity to make an impact and can have lasting benefits for your career, your community, and your employer.