Policy, Planning, and Management


MPPM Capstone Overview

The Capstone is an integrative 3-credit experience completed near the end of a student’s curriculum, providing an opportunity for the student to demonstrate capacity to do professional work.

MPPM students pursue and complete a Capstone for a variety of purposes; advancing professionally, demonstrating skills for a new position or a change in professional direction, advanced study or to meet MPPM degree requirements. All are legitimate purposes and students should be clear about the outcomes they are working toward.  Capstone projects may take a variety of quantitative, qualitative or mixed-method forms: a research project or a preparation of a plan, evaluation or assessment with a comparison of a current state of practice, an empirical research study, financial analysis of a government program, and analysis of a public policy, public or nonprofit management issue or an applied case study.


MPPM Capstone Seminar

The Capstone Seminar course offers students the structure and opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the theory and practice of public policy, planning and management by applying the knowledge and skills gained in the MPPM program to a project of the student’s choice. On occasion a project may be offered for students who have not selected a particular research topic. Class meetings are held on a regular basis and the seminar is designed to enable students to successfully complete a Capstone within the semester the course is offered. The course is open only for students who are completing their Masters of Policy, Planning and Management (MPPM). The course prerequisite is completion of the Program’s core courses, and instructor permission.


Capstone Option

Students may also elect to work on a one-on-one basis with a faculty member as their Capstone advisor who must hold an appointment in the PPM program. As part of the capstone process, MPPM students electing this option are expected to consult with their Capstone advisor in order to identify a specific Capstone topic or choose to study a topic suggested by a MPPM faculty member. In the event that someone with a faculty appointment outside of the MPPM program appears most appropriate to serve as a Capstone advisor, prior approval must be obtained by the student from the MPPM program faculty committee.

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.


Capstone Process

The Capstone Proposal

Each student must prepare a detailed, written Introduction/proposal of the work to be undertaken to fulfill the Capstone requirement including a written description of the intended final report. Although the specific format of each proposal will vary depending on the nature of the product, all proposals must include the following:

  1. Description of the public policy and/or management problem to be studied
  2. Discussion of how the project integrates knowledge gained in PPM
  3. Delineation of the methodology to be used
  4. An overview of the final, written report (upon which the grade and capstone approval are based)

Final Project Presentation

All students who have completed Capstones will be required to present a summary of their work. 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 Capstone seminar instructor/Capstone advisor assigns final grades. Final grades will not be posted until all written materials are submitted. 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.