Expectations:  The capstone requirement within the MPA program represents the culmination of two years of study within the field. The capstone project is expected to meet the high standards for master’s level scholarship set by the political science faculty and by the university.  The project will be representative of the education and training received throughout the course of MPA study at ISU. The faculty expects that, as such, each capstone project will contain original research and critical analysis, performed by the capstone student under the direction of their faculty mentors.

Students should start thinking about their capstone projects early in their programs.

Paper:  Each capstone topic and paper will be approved and supervised by a faculty mentor from among the MPA faculty. Final papers will be approximately 20-25 pages in length.

Acceptable projects fall into one of three categories:

1)      An original research paper that involves a research proposal, data collection, analysis, and final write-up;

2)      A comprehensive and systematic budget analysis; or

3)      A policy analysis that involves impact evaluation or other kind of analysis.

All projects must demonstrate mastery of the program’s Student Learning Outcomes.

Presentation:  Each capstone project will be formally presented in PowerPoint to political science faculty and students during a forum scheduled for that purpose.  The forum will be held toward the end of the student’s last semester in the program. Capstone presentations may be done through teleconference so that students do not have to be physically present on campus to deliver them. 

Faculty mentors should be notified as soon as the student is beginning the process that will culminate in a capstone project.  The student is ultimately responsible for defining a suitable topic, performing the research, and writing the final paper.