CSSE Capstone

As you near completion of the CSSE (Computer Science & Software Engineering) major, you must complete a 10-credit (400-hour) Capstone project, CSS 497.

This project will help you learn by connecting classroom theory with community-based work. Project options consist of internships, research with faculty, individual projects, or group projects. Most students elect to complete their capstone project by completing an internship with local industry.

Info for Capstone sponsors and employers

Sponsors and employers, please visit our Capstone Sponsors page to learn more about the considerations and benefits that come with employing our CSSE major students.

Student guide

  1. Capstone coordinator & information sessions
  2. Preparation timeline
  3. Prerequisite courses
  4. Project options
  5. Internships
  6. CSS faculty advisor
  7. Capstone contract & deadlines
  8. Competencies
  9. Capstone abstract
  10. Capstone Colloquium

Capstone coordinator

Janet McDaniel
STEM Capstone Coordinator
Discovery Hall 468

Information sessions

The very first step on your Capstone project journey is to attend an information session that outlines the requirement and later steps for completion.

It is highly recommended that you attend a CSS 497 information session before making a one-on-one appointment.

In-person sessions

In-person sessions are in DISC-352F. Check in at the STEM Undergraduate Academic Services Desk across from the elevators.

  • Tuesdays, 3:15 PM – 4:15 PM in

Zoom sessions

  • Wednesdays, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Wednesdays, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
  • Thursdays, 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
  • Fridays, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Drop-in advising

If you have a quick question about the CSS 497 capstone requirement or your capstone colloquium presentation, attend a 15-minute drop-in session via Zoom:

  • Mondays, 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
  • Tuesdays, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
  • Thursdays, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM


Appointments are limited to 30 minutes. Please have your student ID number ready.

Select the Care Unit “Academic Advising” and the Service “Capstone/ Fieldwork/ Practicum Advising”.

Preparation timeline

Preparing for your capstone involves a specific series of time-sensitive actions. You must complete all of the following steps in order, so read carefully and ask questions!

Before project begins

  1. Early and often. Meet with a CSS academic advisor to plan out your course schedule and stay on track for completion of the CSS 497 prerequisites.
  2. As soon as possible after admission. Attend a Capstone Information Session.
  3. In junior year. Attend at least one CSS Capstone Colloquium (always Friday of finals week) and submit the attendance form.
  4. 6-to-12 months BEFORE your project. Find and define your internship or other project. Many large companies recruit for internships up to one year in advance. Job/internship postings for summer peak in February and March, then quickly dwindle.
  5. As soon as possible after finding project. If still needed, find a CSS faculty advisor to work with you on the project. Faculty capacity is limited, so ask early!
  6. Quarter before project. Make an appointment with the Capstone Coordinator.
  7. BEFORE project quarter begins. Submit a Capstone Contract. Submissions late in the quarter may be denied. Read Contract Submission Deadlines.

During project

  1. Maintain regular contact with your CSS faculty advisor and submit required reports or other deliverables as agreed.
  2. Friday of finals week. Conduct oral and poster presentations at the Capstone Colloquium.

Prerequisite courses

You must complete all of the following courses before you are eligible to register for CSS 497:

  • CSS 301: Technical Writing
  • CSS 342: Data Structures & Algorithms I
  • CSS 343: Data Structures & Algorithms II
  • CSS 350: Management Principles
  • CSS 360: Software Engineering
  • CSS 370: Analysis & Design
  • CSS 422: Hardware
  • CSS 430: Operating Systems
  • Minimum of 10 credits (usually 2 courses) of CSS electives

Under some circumstances, a student who not yet completed one or two of these requirements may petition to register early for CSS 497. For more information on submitting petitions, contact a CSS academic advisor.

Project options

There are five options you can choose from when starting the Capstone process. Before choosing, give careful consideration as to which option will be most beneficial to your unique interests and circumstances.

All projects must demonstrate academic merit, and must meet conditions for approval as specified by your CSS faculty advisor, the CSS program, and the requirements of any external project partners or employers.

Frequently asked questions

  • Is it possible to complete CSS 497 out of the area/state/country?
    • Yes, talk with your CSS faculty advisor and the Capstone Coordinator for more details.
  • What are the grading options for CSS 497?
    • Your CSS faculty advisor can choose to grant either graded credit (4.0-scale) or ungraded credit (CR/NC) for the project.

Option 1: Sponsored Internship

With this option, opportunities for projects are identified through internships sponsored by local firms, multi-national corporations, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. Some companies and organizations have established internship programs, while others will work with the student to find an appropriate internship project. Internships can be found either by looking on your own, or a through UW resources (read Internships, below).

Option 2: Current Employment

If you are currently employed, you may be able to incorporate that work into your Capstone project. All projects must demonstrate effort that provides additional benefit to both the student and employer, which means the project must involve work that is above and beyond what is normally expected by the employer.

Option 3: Faculty Research Internship

You may work with a faculty member on a research project that has significant implications for industry and/or the community. At least one external Capstone sponsor and/or granting agency must be identified as a reviewer of the work to be completed.

Option 4: Individual Project – Student Defined

You may identify a computing project that meets a need of industry and/or the community. You must identify at least two potential customers (that is, two Capstone sponsors) who will agree to review your project and sign the Capstone Contract agreement. Once these customers have been identified, you must use appropriate software development methodologies to meet deliverable requirements. You must present the project to your customers and faculty advisor for final evaluation.

Option 5: Group Project – Student Defined

A group of students may identify a project that meets the requirements specified for the individual project (above). However, the project must be more complex and have sufficient academic and practical workload. A detailed project specification and project plan including individual responsibilities and team milestones must accompany a proposal for approval.


How do I find an internship?

While UWB facilitates student internship searches, you are ultimately responsible for finding your Capstone Project.

UW resources that can help you find internships include:

  • UW Bothell Career Services. Provides guidance in writing and polishing resumes, and workshops for how to search for jobs, do well in interviews, and negotiate salaries.
  • Handshake. Contains regularly updated job postings and events like career fairs.
  • Career Fairs. Provide an opportunity to speak directly with recruiters.

We also recommend utilizing your personal networking skills to locate internships. Ask yourself, “What three people do I know that are most likely to know about opportunities?”, and then ask those people the same question (and so on).

Can I be paid for my internship?

Some internships offer a salary to students while others may not. Payment for an internship is negotiated between the student and the sponsor. While paid internships are popular, both kinds of internship often lead to permanent employment once you have graduated.

International students

Student visas have very strict regulations when it comes to working in the United States. Unauthorized employment is a serious violation of visa requirements, so be very careful!

As an international student, before you accept employment, contact both:

  1. The UWB International Student Services (ISS) office at uwbintl@uw.edu
  2. The Capstone Coordinator

CSS faculty advisor

Any full-time CSS faculty member can potentially be your faculty advisor for the project. We recommend choosing a faculty member that has research interests in common with your Capstone sponsor (employer, customer, etc.) or that you feel comfortable working with.

Students are expected to maintain contact with their faculty advisor throughout the course of the internship to discuss project status, academic work required, lessons learned, academic models addressed, and other issues associated with the completion of the internship.

Note that the faculty advisor (who helps with your capstone project) is not the same as an academic advisor (who helps you plan your academics and find university resources).

Capstone contract

Contracts must be completed as thoroughly as possible and have all relevant information attached when you submit it to your CSS faculty advisor for review. Your CSS faculty advisor must review and sign the contract before the Capstone sponsor signs. Visit the Student Forms & Resources page to download the “CSS 497 Contract” form.

Due to the length of some projects, your CSS faculty advisor can give approval to divide the project over two or more quarters. Most faculty require students to prepare a report for evaluation and grading at the end of every quarter of the project.

Detailed guidance on how to structure your contract and fulfill its obligations can be found on the Capstone Guidelines page.

Contract deadlines

Submit your completed and signed contract to the Capstone Coordinator at least one week before the quarter begins. Once approved by the CSS Program, you will be given an entry code to register yourself into CSS 497.

You must submit your contract no later than 3:00 PM on the deadline dates below. Contracts submitted after the quarter begins may be be denied or charged late registration fees, if appropriate.

QuarterPriority Deadline
(CSS 497 registration before first day of quarter guaranteed)
Final Deadline
(last day to submit approved contract)
Presentation Date
(always Friday of finals week)
Winter 2024December 19, 2023 (Tue)January 11, 2024 (Thu)March 15th, 2024
Spring 2024March 6, 2024 (Wed)April 11th, 2024 (Thu)June 7th, 2024
Summer 2024May 29, 2024 (Wed)June 20, 2024 (Thu)August 16th, 2024
Autumn 2024September 18th, 2024 (Wed)October 2, 2024 (Wed)December 13, 2024
Winter 2025December 18, 2024 (Wed)January 8, 2025 (Wed)March 21, 2025
March 19, 2025 (Wed)April 9, 2025 (Wed)June 13, 2025
June 4, 2025 (Wed)July 1, 2025 (Tue)TBD


Projects must be considered challenging for an advanced CSSE student, well-defined, and utilize competencies gained in the CSSE Core and CSS Elective courses.

Core competencies for the Computing and Software Systems (CSS) program are divided into two groups (General and Technical). There are also advanced competencies which requires students to gain higher levels of knowledge, skills, and experience.

  • (a) Analysis & Problem Solving
    • Analysis of Alternatives (cost/benefit)
    • Creativity
    • Efficiency
    • Information Gathering
    • Learning by Doing
    • Systematic Thinking
    • Thoroughness
  • (b) Interpersonal
    • Collaboration & Team Building
    • Leadership
    • Listening
    • Managing Change & Uncertainty
    • Speaking
    • Writing
  • (c) Management
    • Decision-Making
    • Project Management
    • Risk Management
    • User Orientation
  • Business Case Justification
  • CASE Methodologies
  • Data Analysis & Statistics
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Hardware Architecture
  • Process Reengineering Techniques
  • Quality Assurance
  • Social Implications of Technology
  • Software Architecture
  • Technical Writing
  • Technology Evaluation & Selection
  • Technology Standards & Procedures
  • Algorithm Design & Development
  • Business Case Justification
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Contemporary Database & Interface Design Tools
  • Contemporary Information Engineering Tools
  • Contemporary Programming Tools
  • Content Management
  • Cost/Benefit Analysis
  • Data Compression Techniques
  • Data Layout and Access Techniques
  • Database Design
  • Database Reporting
  • Distributed Computing
  • Electronic Data Interchange
  • Event Programming Methodologies
  • Finance
  • Functional Design
  • Graphical Design and Interpretation
  • Interface Design Principles
  • Internet Applications Development
  • Knowledge-Based Systems
  • Logical Data Modeling
  • Managing Reusable Code
  • Multimedia information management
  • Network Design
  • Object-oriented Programming
  • Object-oriented Programming Methodologies
  • Organizational Analysis
  • Project Estimation Techniques
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Requirements Definition & Analysis
  • Software Development Methodologies
  • System Administration
  • System Performance Monitoring & Analysis
  • Systems Specification Techniques
  • Testing Methodologies
  • Usability Testing

Capstone abstract

Your capstone abstract is a 200-to-400 word statement that concisely summarizes the major topics/themes of your project, the work you completed, and the results of that work.

An abstract should summarize three things:

  1. The background information about the problem(s) to be solved
  2. The reason why you chose a certain method to produce a solution
  3. The outcome of your approach

If you have written a report about your project, you may find that you can extract the main ideas to create a concise description. In developing your PowerPoint presentation for the CSS Colloquium you will need to use the same central themes.

To receive a grade, you must:

  1. Write an abstract
  2. Submit the abstract to your CSS faculty advisor for approval
  3. Upload the abstract to your assigned Canvas page created by the Capstone Coordinator

Here are additional resources if you need help:

Capstone Colloquium

You must present your project in the quarter you complete it at the at the Capstone Colloquium event, which is always held on Friday of finals week every quarter of the year. CSS faculty, staff, students, project sponsors, and the general community are all invited to attend.

There are two components to your presentation:

  1. A physical poster outlining the project
  2. An 8-to-10 minute oral presentation that describes your experiences and accomplishments.

Detailed guidance on how to create good posters and oral presentations can be found on the Capstone Guidelines page. Samples of past colloquium posters can be found outside of the CSS labs (UW1 3rd floor) and you can view the past Colloquium schedules online.

Poster specifications

There is no specific size requirement, but the most popular size and style is a Tri-fold 36″ x 48″, cardboard or foam poster. Poster prices can range from approximately 5 to 20 dollars.

Upcoming dates

QuarterDate (always Friday of finals week)
Winter 2024March 15th, 2024
Spring 2024June 7th, 2024
Summer 2024August 16th, 2024
Autumn 2024December 13, 2024
Winter 2025March 21, 2025
Spring 2025June 13, 2025