Students conversing outside

Capstone Guidelines and Directions

Honors Program

Honors Capstone Course – 3 credits

The Capstone project is a culminating experience related to the student’s major (i.e. research project, internship, service learning project, development of a business plan or discipline-specific solution to a problem). The capstone course is taken in the academic year in which the student plans to graduate. This course may also serve as a capstone course within the major if the major capstone course provides the student the opportunity to do an individual project.

 The general process involves the following steps:

  1. Student discusses the capstone requirement at the beginning of their junior year with the Honors Program Director.  At this time guidance will be given about whether or not a major capstone course can also be an honors capstone course and how the student might go about completing the capstone within their major.  The student will then need to find and meet with a capstone mentor within their major or speak to the instructor of the major capstone course.
  2. Student completes the Capstone Intent Form in their junior year (the year before the student’s graduation year) and submits this signed form to the Honors Program Director. The completion of this form will require the student to meet with his or her Capstone mentor before the senior year to discuss their possible project with timelines, the need to get IRB or animal testing approval, and other details pertaining to the project. This form must be returned to the Honors Program Director before the end of the spring semester of that student’s junior year. 
  3. In the semester before the student plans to do their capstone project, the student, with help from their faculty mentor, will complete and submit the Capstone Project Proposal Form to the Honors Program Director. These proposals are due at the beginning of November or April, the semester before the student plans to complete the Capstone project. The form must be typed - handwritten forms will not be accepted.  Use of outside sources is required in the preparation and writing of the capstone proposal – any proposals submitted without cited sources will be returned for revisions.
  4. The Honors Steering Committee reviews all submitted proposals and either approves the proposal or suggests further revision/modification before approval.
  5. The student signs up for a capstone course based on the following guidelines:

Procedure for signing up for an approved Capstone course

  • Honors students in a major with a major capstone course that provides the student the opportunity to do an individual project approved by the Honors Steering Committee will register for that capstone course (i.e. BIOL 498 or ENGL 496). Records will put you in a special Honors section of that course, and that course will also count as the honors capstone course.
  • Honors students in a major without a major capstone course that meets the requirements can register for a 3-credit independent study course within their major (i.e. PYSC 598 or POLI 399) using an independent study contract. This independent study contract must be signed by the faculty mentor, the unit head of that student’s major, and the Honors Program Director. The signed original will then be taken to Records.  *You will not be able to register for an independent study capstone using SSC – only with a contract.
  • Honors students in a major without a capstone course that meets the requirements OR an appropriate independent study course can register for HONS 499.  This requires an independent study contract with appropriate signatures as specified above.

Presentation of Capstone Project

Honors students must present their capstone project before the Honors Steering Committee at Scholar Showcase in the spring semester. Students who do their capstone project in the fall and graduate in December will present their work to the Committee at the end of the fall semester.

This will be a 10-minute oral PowerPoint presentation with 2-3 minutes at the end for questions. Presentations must be tailored to a GENERAL audience.  The presentation should have three parts:

  • An introduction to your capstone project, including the purpose and briefly how you went about doing it. 
  • A discussion of what you learned or accomplished by doing your project – your results, conclusions, and/ or analysis presented without technical details. 
  • A reflection on how your project (the topic and/or skills learned) relates to you personally and/or will help you in your future endeavors (career, grad school, life).


IRB/Animal Testing approval process

If you are testing/surveying human subjects, you and your mentor need to check to see if you need IRB approval. If so, you will need to submit a human subjects application by registering at  There is some online training involved so get started on this early.

If you are doing animal testing, you will need to get IACUC approval.  Check with the Department Chair of your unit to see how to go about doing this.  IACUC requires some online training so get started on this early.

IRB or IACUC approval is something that is the responsibility of the student, faculty member, and sponsoring Dept.