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 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
Also note that you may be asked to write one of the following kinds of documents as part of your capstone.
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:
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:
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:
Use our Citation Variations page, comparing each of your citations to the corresponding example so you can make adjustments.
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.
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.
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.
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.