Capstone projects may take a variety of forms: empirical research study, financial analysis of a government program, analysis of a public policy or management issue or an applied case study. As part of the capstone process, PPM students are expected to consult with their capstone advisor in order to identify a specific capstone topic. However, when circumstances warrant, an individual student or group of students may choose to study a topic suggested by a PPM faculty member. Additionally, Muskie School faculty members are available for consultation regarding topic selection. Capstone advisors must hold an appointment in the PPM program. In the event that someone with a faculty appointment outside of the PPM program appears most appropriate to serve as a capstone advisor, approval must be obtained from the PPM faculty committee.
The Capstone Seminar in Public Policy and Management
One option is the Capstone Seminar, a workshop in which the instructor and student peers provide feedback and assistance to seminar participants. Class meetings occur throughout the semester. These are working sessions in which students present work in progress and receive feedback from the instructor and other members of the class. Attendance and participation in all of the scheduled sessions is important.
All students who enroll in PPM 699 Capstone must meet the following prerequisites:
- Successful completion of PPM core courses
- Successful completion of PPM 602 Research Design
A student who fails to meet either requirement may petition the PPM Committee of Academic Affairs for waiver within the semester of enrollment in PPM 699.
The Capstone Proposal
Each student or student research team must prepare a detailed, written proposal of the work to be undertaken to fulfill the capstone requirement including a written description of the intended final report. All capstone proposals should be presented during the semester in which the student or students will complete the capstone seminar. Although the specific format of each proposal will vary depending on the nature of the product, all proposals must include the following:
- Description of the public policy and/or management problem to be studied
- Discussion of how the project integrates knowledge gained in PPM
- Delineation of the methodology to be used
- An overview of the final, written report (upon which the grade and capstone approval are based)
Once the capstone faculty advisor has approved the proposal, a capstone proposal presentation is scheduled. Students are required to schedule the presentation and post announcements notifying faculty, staff and students at least one week in advance of the anticipated date.
Procedurally, the student prepares a brief (two to five pages) proposal of his or her project that must be reviewed and approved by the faculty Capstone advisor and the HPM Capstone Project Coordinator. This review process takes place in an informal meeting that is open to other students interested in familiarizing themselves with the Capstone process, or who have an interest in the particular project's subject area. When the Capstone is complete, the written report must be reviewed and approved by the Capstone Advisor and the Capstone Coordinator prior to the oral presentation. For the presentation, the student will post notices within the school and through the student listserv, at least a week in advance, stating the topic, the place and time. The faculty Capstone advisor evaluates and assigns a grade to the final project based on both the written product and oral presentation.
Capstone Proposal Presentation
The purpose of the oral presentation of the capstone proposal is to provide interdisciplinary guidance to the student and insure a quality, integrative experience. The proposal presentation provides students with the opportunity to give an overview of their proposal, answer questions, and discuss points raised by those present. In addition to the oral presentation, students are expected to provide a written summary of their project at the time of the proposal presentation.
Final Project Presentation
All students or student groups who have completed capstones will be required to present a summary of their work to interested faculty, staff and students. Students are required to post announcements notifying faculty, staff and students of the scheduled presentation two weeks in advance of the scheduled presentation. The presentation of the completed project will be done in a collegial environment, affording faculty and students with an opportunity for discussion, and providing ideas for students who are beginning to think about capstone projects.
All students must submit a written product describing their research and presenting their findings and recommendations. All completed capstone projects will be assigned a letter grade. The individual/group capstone faculty advisor assigns final grades. Final grades will not be posted until all written materials are submitted. All students are required to provide three copies of the finished capstone project to the Office of Student Affairs. Students who fail to complete the capstone project by the end of the semester of their enrollment in PPM 699 will receive an incomplete. Students receiving an incomplete must finish their capstone within the period established by USM regulations. Failure to meet these deadlines will result in the conversion of the incomplete to a failing grade.