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How to create an original capstone project

A capstone project is a requirement in many university’s social science and humanities major programs, and is often completed in late Junior year or early Senior. Ideally, a capstone project should synthesize the student’s prior learning, demonstrate mastery of multiple conceptual areas, and build upon the existing stores of academic knowledge.

But completing such a project is a tall order. The most difficult aspect, for many students, is simply beginning the project at all. To ensure that a capstone project is successful, it should be both original and appropriate to the student’s own expertise. Here are some tips for selecting such a capstone project.

Use Your Expertise

Take stock of the information areas and fields that you know the most about. If necessary, print out a copy of your unofficial college transcript and carefully review the courses you have taken, especially those in your major program. What stands out? What are the commonalities in the subjects that you select? Pay extra attention to the major and general electives you have taken, as these represent your unique and distinct knowledge that sets you apart from other students. Get a sense of which subjects and subfields of study you know a lot about, relative to others.

Think Outside of Academia

You should also consider other sources of expertise, beyond the university setting. Do you volunteer at an animal shelter? Are you active in a fraternity, sorority, church group, or some other group? Are you passionate about writing, or podcasting, or video game design? Find a way to apply your passions to your project. This will motivate you, and ensure that your capstone is truly unique and interesting for your readers.

Give Yourself Credit

Many students are uncertain of their own abilities when starting a capstone project. Confidence is key, however, and will help you cross the finish line in time. Be proud of the expertise you have accrued, and do not be afraid to select a topic that has personal interest to you. When describing your project to your adviser, be prepared, confident, and ready to answer any questions in a poised and informative manner. If you are proud of your capstone project idea, be willing to stand up for it.

Talk to Others

Finally, you can be inspired in your own project by discussing other people’s capstone projects. Find a peer who can help motivate you and hold you accountable. Trade ideas and constructive criticism.