The Capstone Proposal is submitted toward the end of Spring Quarter. (See Dates and Deadlines for the precise due date.)

Capstone Advisors must approve students’ capstone proposals before students can enroll in BPOLST 515: Capstone. Students should enroll in BPOLST 594 Research Design during Spring Quarter to aid in the development of their Capstone Proposal, unless they have approval from their capstone advisor to satisfy their research methods requirements by other means.

There is no single required format for the Capstone 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 2-3 pages double-spaced, unless otherwise noted, and should conform to acceptable style requirements. 

Submit your completed Capstone Proposal via email (in pdf or Word format) to your Capstone Advisor and to the Graduate Office at Then complete and submit your Capstone Petition.

Statement Of Problem

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

The statement will indicate in brief 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.

Introduction of Literature 

Include a brief introduction of the literature that cites 8-10 peer reviewed publications that highligh the importance of your research question, and/or address prior research or writing pertinent to the problem at hand. It is not necessary to conduct an exhaustive review at this time but you should address prior work on the subject,  indicate the novelty of your research question, and clearly definekey terms in your proposal. You will want to indicate the essential difference(s) between your proposed study and prior research explicitly. What has been studied and researched about the subject by other scholars? How do their findings help you develop your own question, or do you disagree with their findings or research methods? Why? 

Selected Bibliography

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

Proposed Methodology

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-Spring Quarter? If you want to interview people, are you sure they will talk to you? This section of the proposal should be approximately 1 page and 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.

Timeline for Project Completion

As an appendix, 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 summer. Keep in mind that if you chose to collect your own data, then you are expected to complete data collection by the end of Spring quarter, in order to produce a final product by the end of Summer Quarter.