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Help Your Advisees Apply for a Capstone

For a graduate student, the capstone project is new and unfamiliar territory. Faculty members should expect and even encourage questions, especially from their advisees. Three things are important in your role: 1) procedural guidance, 2) academic advice, and 3) encouragement.

Procedural Guidance: Once a student has completed 27 credits, they may apply for the capstone project. The student should adhere to the following steps:

  1. Consult with their advisor regarding the type of project and the two other graduate faculty members who may be valuable on their exam committee.
  2. Secure the consent of the two other committee members (besides the advisor).
  3. Complete the Capstone Application (available online) and send it to the Director of Graduate Studies along with the fee.
  4. Complete the capstone proposal following the guideline in the Graduate Studies Bulletin and with input from the committee members.
  5. After each member of the committee has approved the proposal, ask the advisor to submit it to the Director of Graduate Studies for final review and approval along with an IRB application.
  6. Do not start the research until the proposal and IRB application have been approved.


Academic Advice: This process is new to the graduate students. Although some students may thrive with little help, expect to coach your advisee through the process. Guidance during the proposal phase is very important to ensure the student’s success. Experienced capstone advisors say that spending time up front will reduce the amount of corrections and frustration later. Make sure the problem statement and purpose are clearly and narrowly defined so that the remainder of the work is focused. Your advisee depends on you to direct them, even if they don’t seem to want to hear it.


Encouragement: A capstone project is intimidating. As an advisor, keep your students on track by initiating contact when possible, reminding them that they can do it, keeping your comments positive, and urging them to pray because we "can do everything through him (Christ) who gives me strength" (Phil. 4:13).