Capstone Seminar for Graduate Students
Thesis and Capstone
Students will complete a graduate-level project which demonstrates their ability to integrate the knowledge and skills they have gained from their program. Students will demonstrate their mastery in the following areas:
- Knowledge of theory, research, and practice
- Oral communication skills
- Written communication skills
- Critical thinking skills
Capstone/Thesis Orientation is held each fall and spring semester. Dates and times will be sent to your UCCS email, as well as posted on the website, when available.
Virtual Capstone Orientation
Learn More About the Project
About Capstone Seminar
For graduate 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 Master of Criminal Justice (MCJ), Master of Public Administration (MPA), Dual MPA/MCJ, or Dual MPA/MA Sociology (SOC) 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
- Critical thinking skills
The goals of the MPA, MCJ, Dual MPA/MCJ, and Dual MPA/MA SOC 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.
In PAD 6950: Master's Thesis, students conduct a comprehensive review of the theoretical and research literature in the subject area of their thesis and collect original data or analyze existing data in new ways. The thesis requires 6 hours of credit that span two semesters. The thesis option is available to MPA students who have achieved an exceptional academic record and who wish to pursue independent research in greater depth than would normally be possible in Capstone Seminar. It is suited for students who intend to pursue a PhD degree or to enter a research or policy environment upon completion of the MPA degree.
Minimum eligibility requirements for pursuing a thesis include:
- Matriculation in the MPA program
- Successful completion of all core courses
- Overall GPA of 3.5 or higher
- Demonstrated ability to pursue research work, as evidenced by two submitted research papers developed in SPA courses or elsewhere
- Preliminary identification of a thesis topic or area of interest
- Agreement from a SPA faculty member to serve as the thesis committee chair along with two additional faculty members to serve on the thesis committee
- Minor exceptions to the above criteria may be made in exceptional circumstances
A student desiring to pursue the thesis option should meet with their faculty advisor to establish eligibility under the above criteria. After establishing eligibility, the student should recruit three faculty members to serve on the student's thesis committee -- one to serve as the committee chair and two to serve on the committee -- and then complete the thesis application form. Once complete, the thesis application form should be submitted to the MPA program director for approval.
Although the formal procedures entail application through the faculty advisor, the student is encouraged to make informal contacts with appropriate subject-matter faculty to determine interest and availability.
Please complete the Thesis Application Form
For more information about the MPA Thesis Option, please watch the video below:
How to Enroll in the Capstone Seminar
In order to enroll in CJ/PAD 5361, Capstone Seminar, please complete the following steps in the semester before you are to take Capstone:
- Complete the Capstone Checklist
- Meet with Capstone Instructor for final signature
- Turn completed checklist into Graduate Student Services in ACAD 303, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Upon verification of eligibility, a permission number will be provided to you to enroll in the Capstone Seminar.
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.
Completed Capstone Projects
Frequently Asked Questions
The Capstone Seminar in Public Administration and in Criminal Justice is designed to integrate and synthesize your entire course of study. The course provides a process and structure for the School of Public Affairs 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 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.
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 School of Public Affairs (SPA) maintains a list of community organizations where students are conducting their projects. 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.
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 faculty advisor to begin exploring potential capstone ideas at any point in the program.
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.
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.
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 a subject-matter expert in your area of research. This person must review and approve your IRB proposal (if required) 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.
This FAQ is complex, as there is not one answer for every student. 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.
Resources for Capstone Students
- Capstone Checklist
- Tabatha Farney - Director, Web Services and Emerging Technologies & Assistant Professor, Kraemer Family Library
- Center of Excellence in Writing
- Center for Excellence in Communication
- Library Guides
- Office of Sponsored Programs - IRB Research Compliance Page