Many—although not all—master’s students complete their program with a capstone course. These capstone courses look different depending on the program and program learning outcomes. However, there are some common characteristics in these capstone courses, one of which is that it usually requires intensive writing throughout the course. Students need to use all of the skills they have learned thus far in this culmination of their degree, often writing and developing one final capstone throughout the entire capstone course.
With this in mind, we have collected Writing Center resources that will be particularly useful for master’s students writing their capstone. We also have listed resources that will be helpful for students in particular programs. Additionally, if you are looking for help on something specific that you don’t see here, be sure to reach out and ask. Questions can be directed to Ask OASIS.
If you’re a master’s student and you’re not sure you are in the right place, note that master’s program capstones can be called by many different names—capstone project, master’s project, capstone, final project, scholarly project, case study, treatise, and research project—although the resources we’ve identified here should be useful for all master’s capstones, no matter what they are called.
You will most likely be writing, developing, and revising your capstone from week to week throughout the entire capstone course. Thorough preparation is essential to set a foundation for the writing you’ll be doing. To help you take notes, organize your thoughts, and research, use these resources:
- Our Goal Setting pages offer suggestions about how to set and achieve your writing goals as you work on longer projects, like the master’s capstone.
- Our Prewriting pages include tips for critical reading, taking notes, organizing ideas, and outlining.
- The Prewriting Techniques: Taking the First Steps recorded webinar will also give you examples of how to lay the foundation for your writing.
- Episode 34, Taking Care of Yourself with Mindful Writing, and the follow-up Episode 35 will help you learn how to fit writing your capstone in with the rest of your life via mindful writing.
- Watch the recorded webinar Walden Assignment Prompts: Learn the Requirements to ensure you fully understand the expectations for your capstone, which will be outlined in the grading rubric, prompt, and other information in your course. Even if the final rubric for your capstone is posted in the last week of the course’s resources, we suggest you download it now to ensure you’re fulfilling the final expectations for your capstone as you develop it each week.
Also note that you may be asked to write one of the following kinds of documents as part of your capstone.
- Presentations webpages
- Annotated Bibliographies webpages; Annotated Bibliographies recorded webinar
- Literature Reviews pages; Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography Basics recorded webinar
- Executive Summaries webpages
Of course, don’t forget to use the Library for help researching too!
Writing your first draft may seem overwhelming, but many capstone courses break down the process across multiple weeks in the capstone course. Remember to take it one step at a time and know that you will have time to revise once you’ve written a first draft. To help you with your writing, use these resources:
Developing Your Capstone
- Our Drafting pages will help you with essential components of your capstone, like an introduction, conclusion, and thesis statement.
- Our Paragraphs pages will show you how to develop your ideas into academic paragraphs, and you can see even more examples in the recorded webinar Using the MEAL Plan to Write and Revise Academic Paragraphs.
- Episode 26 of our WriteCast podcast, Wrestling with Writer’s Block, will help you overcome any writer’s block you’re experiencing.
- Our Paper Review service offers you the opportunity to receive individualized feedback throughout the drafting process on your writing progress and goals.
Using Sources in Your Capstone
- Our Paraphrase pages and the recorded webinar Paraphrasing Source Information will help you paraphrase sources successfully, since paraphrasing evidence is often preferred in master’s capstones.
- Our Synthesis pages can help show you how to synthesize in your capstone, since at this point in your program you’ll also be expected to synthesize rather than summarize sources.
- Our Citing Sources Properly pages will ensure you are citing your sources, including just the right amount of citations throughout your writing.
Because you’ll be working on your capstone over multiple weeks, you’ll be expected and have ample opportunity to revise. Revision helps clarify and strengthen your writing, so you’ll be spending just as much if not more time revising than you spent writing your first draft. Use the following resources to help you with revision strategies:
- Use our Revising pages to make sure that you revise both at the paragraph level and for overall organization and clarity. This might be a longer paper than you’ve written in the past, so you have to be careful that it is organized clearly and effectively.
- The 5 Rs of Revision, WriteCast podcast episode 14, will help you learn about revision strategies.
- The Improving Your Writing: Strategies for Revising, Proofing, and Using Feedback recorded webinar will demonstrate revision strategies for you and give you tips on using instructor feedback to revise.
Proofreading and Editing
Once you’re near the end of your course, you’ll need to polish, proof, and edit your capstone to ensure you are not only following APA and grammar rules but also don’t have any typos or unclear phrasing. Use the following resources and strategies to help you proof and edit your capstone:
- Our Proofreading pages outline a few proofing strategies, like reading aloud, printing a hardcopy, using spell checkers, etc.
- Speaking of spell checkers, try using Grammarly to catch typos and spelling errors.
- Use our Common Reference List Entries page, comparing each of your reference entries to the corresponding example so you can make adjustments.
Use our Citation Variations page, comparing each of your citations to the corresponding example so you can make adjustments.
Paper Review Appointments
Keep in mind that you don’t have to set out drafting and revising your master’s capstone project alone. We are here to support your writing progress and overall skill development. In fact, students who make three or more paper review appointments per term are statistically more likely to see progress in academic success. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity and to make multiple paper review appointments with our writing instructors. If you are interested, be sure to check our resources our paper review appointments and how to incorporate multiple appointments within your schedule.
Program-Specific Capstone Tips
There are some other common tips and resources we can provide for master’s students’ capstones based on their program. If your program is in any of the following colleges, be sure to note these tips and resources too.
Capstones for College of Education and Human Sciences
Major assessments: For some students, portions of their capstone and capstone course may also be a major assessment. Our tips above apply in these cases too, but you may also find the recorded webinar Writing for the MAT, MSEd, EdD, & EdS Major Assessments helpful.
Capstones for College of Health Sciences and Public Policy
Literature reviews: Note that many programs in this college ask students to write a literature review. Sometimes these literature reviews focus more on summary or annotating sources than the synthesis-focused literature reviews we talk about in the Writing Center. In those cases, be sure to follow your instructor’s directions and preferences, as well as the expectations set in the capstone rubric.