Capstone Information

Master’s Capstone Paper

As an alternative to the thesis, students can elect to complete an independent research or project-based paper. Unlike the thesis, the master's capstone paper must be completed in one semester under the guidance of one faculty advisor, and does not adhere to the university formatting guidelines. Guidelines for the capstone paper are set within the department and require:

  • One sociology faculty advisor who is a member of the graduate faculty.
  • Completion of 3 credits of SOCI 797: Master’s Capstone Paper.
  • One capstone paper to be submitted at the end of the semester to the capstone advisor and MA advisor.

Capstone papers can be any of the following formats:

  1. Scholarly research paper: This is written in the style of a journal article, with a particular journal in mind (using original secondary or primary data analysis).
  2. Review paper: This is a scholarly review and critical analysis of the state of the art in a subfield of sociology research (similar to an Annual Review of Sociology article).
  3. Applied problem paper: This is a written assessment of a problem or a question that an agency is facing. Students identify an organization to work with, identify questions of interest to the organization, and conduct research to provide recommendations.
  4. Applied project: This includes a paper outlining the research problem, literature review, research design, empirical research and data analysis that inform the problem, along with a project deliverable (e.g., project evaluation, policy brief, training materials, informational brochure, grant proposal, documentary script and/or story board, podcast script, etc.)

While the length of capstone papers varies depending on the format, they are generally 35-pages or less.

Students should choose the topic and format for their capstone paper based on their interests and career goals. Before making a final decision on a topic and format, students should consult with faculty members. Once the student has selected a topic and format, they can select a capstone advisor and register for capstone credits (SOCI 797). Alternately, students can select a capstone advisor first, then work collaboratively with the advisor to determine a suitable topic and project format.

Sample Capstone papers can be seen in the Sociology MA Blackboard page (look under your Blackboard Organizations tab).

See additional information about the Capstone in the Sociology  Graduate Student Handbook.


Submit the Capstone Enrollment and Advisor Form, along with a 2-3-page prospectus outlining the research problem or question you plan to investigate, and which Capstone option you plan to complete, to your Capstone Advisor for approval.

Then submit both forms to the Graduate Director for enrollment in SOCI 797.

Capstone Enrollment and Advisor Form