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Master of Science in Technical Communication

Capstone - Thesis Information

You will choose either a Thesis or Capstone Project option based on your personal and professional goals. It counts for 6 hours in the degree plan. You should begin thinking about a possible project as soon as you can. You may choose to build upon work done in an earlier course, or choose an entirely separate topic/idea. You should discuss your idea(s) with one or more faculty members, even before you start the semester of Directed Research.

  • Thesis option: you must complete 3 hours of a directed research practicum and 3 hours of thesis credit as well as oral defenses of the thesis and of a graduation portfolio.
  • Capstone Project option: you must complete 3 hours of a directed research practicum or an internship and 3 hours of capstone project credit as well as oral defenses of the capstone project and of a graduation portfolio.

If you do not finish the thesis or project within the 6 hours, you may continue to register for Capstone/Thesis hours until you complete it.

For a student perspective and tips on the Thesis/Capstone process, take a look at the guide produced in our Project Management course:
small blue arrow that indicates a link to another web page for file for download Student Produced Guide for Production of a Thesis or Capstone

Should I do a Capstone or Thesis?

Choosing a thesis or capstone project should be based on your topic and goals.

Writing a thesis enables you to refine research and writing skills while exploring a topic of individual interest. It also results in the production of a document which can support an application to a Ph.D. program and may have the potential for publication.

This option allows you to delve into a research project of your choosing so as to provide realistic experience with academic investigations. A thesis typically introduces the purpose, scope, and significance of a chosen topic; it situates the topic within the context of the available literature in the field; it explains the research method employed and the rationale for the research; it examines the results of the research; and it summarizes the importance of the project.

Capstone Project
A capstone project enables you to improve targeted employment-oriented skills. It may also result in the production of a document which can provide a significant contribution to an employment portfolio or a document which can support an application to a Ph.D. program.

This option allows you to gain practical experience with the design, management, and completion of a professional writing project (deliverable) such as the production of a useful manual, public relations materials, a website, a usability assessment, or other document for a workplace. A rationale report must accompany the document; this report explains how the document applies and reflects the scholarly principles which underlie or support the production of the deliverable for the workplace.

What Happens in Each Semester?

Directed Research Semester
You may choose to start your thesis/capstone any time after you have completed 15 hours of coursework in the program. By the fourth Monday of the Directed Research semester, you need to submit a proposal to the Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC) via the Graduate Director. In preparing the proposal, please consider the suggested documentation schedule for the thesis or the capstone project.

The GAC has a rotating membership of 4 faculty members in the MSTC program. They will review the proposal and respond in one of three ways: 1) approval, 2) revise and resubmit, or 3) rejection with suggestion to find another project. If you submit your proposal by the 4th Monday, the GAC will respond within 2 weeks. During that time, you should continue to work on your project goals.

Once your project is approved and your capstone/thesis committee chair assigned, you will spend the rest of the Direct Research semester working on the project.

Thesis/Capstone Semester
During this semester, you will work on your project with a goal of defending it to your full committee by the end of the semester. It is important that you keep your committee members, especially the chair, in the loop on your work.

If you intend to defend in that semester, contact the graduate coordinator who will then assign the third member of the committee will be assigned to you; the third member acts as an “outside reader” who will not have had the benefit of seeing multiple drafts.

It is your responsibility to fill out a defense request form. Remember that you need to provide a complete and final draft to all three of your committee members at least two weeks before the defense.

When you are ready for your final drafts, please be sure that you have followed the formatting guidelines.

And, once your final versions have been approved and you have the signature pages, fill out the binding request form.



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Last updated or reviewed on 9/17/14

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