Capstone Guide

Capstone Proposal

The Capstone Proposal is submitted by the end of Autumn Quarter of Year Two. Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in BPOLST 594 Research Design during Autumn Quarter to aid in the development of their capstone proposal.

There is no established format for the Capstone project proposal, but the topics listed below should be included. Appropriate sub-headings are permissible. The primary consideration is that the proposal be complete and specific. All proposals should be double-spaced, unless otherwise noted, and should conform to acceptable style requirements.

Timeline For Project Completion

Please include a timeline to indicate how you expect to proceed with various aspects of the project (i.e. literature review, data collection, data analysis, Capstone writing and revising) in order to complete it by the end of the academic year. Keep in mind that you are expected to complete data collection by the end of Winter Quarter, and produce a final product by the end of Spring Quarter.

Statement Of Problem

The statement of the problem should be concise. What is the policy question you want to research? Why is this an interesting policy question that you want to investigate? Information needs to indicate the significance of the study to the specific policy area being addressed. The problem may arise from a theoretical question about policy making or from a specific circumstance that presents empirical, consequential questions for policy implementation.

The statement will indicate the general purpose of the study, and relate the problem to general theories and accepted bodies of knowledge. Wherever appropriate, the proposal should specify how it could benefit policy professionals or particular interest groups and/or the public at large, how it is related to an institution or organization (if applicable), and what contribution it will make to your professional development.

Literature Review

You should identify the most important prior research or writing pertinent to the problem at hand. It is not necessary to document all prior writing on the subject, but there should be an indication of substantial familiarity with the material and a clear definition of its relationship to the proposed study. The essential difference(s) between the proposed study and prior research will be explicitly identified. What has been studied and researched about the subject by other scholars? How do their findings help you understand your own question, or do you disagree with their findings or research methods? Why?


What kind of data do you need in order to research your policy question? If you are using secondary data, are you sure the data exist, are complete, and available by mid-Winter Quarter? If you want to interview people, are you sure they will talk to you? This section of the proposal should demonstrate how the objectives of the study will be accomplished. You should indicate specific steps to be taken to answer the questions or to test the hypotheses. Data should be provided that will indicate what sort of information will be obtained, how it will be obtained, and how it will be analyzed. Where appropriate, sampling procedures should be indicated, measuring instruments fully described, and statistical analyses identified. If instruments are to be developed during the study, the procedure for their development should be described; if instruments have already been developed specifically for this study, they should be attached.

Limitations of the study should be indicated in this section of the proposal. This may be accomplished by indicating such factors as the population to be studied, the time period considered, the origin and composition of information to be used, and any other information that might indicate potential sources of error for the design or limitations of the framework within which the study will be conducted. The approximate time schedule anticipated for the completion of various phases or aspects of the project should be noted.

Selected Bibliography

This bibliography may be different from the bibliography that will be included with the final project, but it should deal essentially with those references discussed in the Literature Review section above.