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What is a Capstone? Heading link

Student painting.

A “capstone” is the final stone that unifies and protects an underlying structure. All Honors College students complete a Capstone Project—a scholarly experience that incorporates concepts and techniques learned throughout the undergraduate career, through which students can make original scholarly or professional contributions to their field. The Capstone may focus on a research problem, theoretical issue, new creative work, professional challenge, or novel application (such as design, technological, or social innovation).

Expectations for the Capstone are in line with honors quality departmental theses, senior design projects, and other senior research projects that enable students to carry out rigorous inquiry, writing, and public presentation. The Capstone Project is typically pursued in the final two semesters at UIC, building upon the knowledge and skills acquired throughout the undergraduate years.

Projects like the Capstone enable students to enhance critical abilities: working independently and as a member of a team; superseding obstacles; cultivating confidence and willingness to take risks; and contributing to a larger community of knowledge.

What is the Purpose of the Capstone Project? Heading link

Student painting.

The Honors Capstone Project is intended to provide a challenging experience for students, one that builds on their Honors College training in the “art” of research and independent scholarship and allows the production of an original contribution to a discipline or field.

It involves in-depth examination of a research problem, theoretical issue, new creative work, professional challenge, or innovative area of application (i.e., design or technological innovation) supervised by a faculty member chosen by the student in consultation with their Faculty Fellow.

The Capstone Project is commensurate with the expectations of traditional departmental honors theses, senior design projects, and other senior research/inquiry projects intended to prepare students for the rigors of research/inquiry, writing, and scholarly presentation associated with postgraduate professional programs, graduate programs, and careers post-college.

Your Capstone Timeline Heading link

Student working on computer.

Worried about Capstone in your first year of college? Don’t be! Focus instead on finding your footing academically and joining a student organization or club.

In the second year, explore your interests! You are probably taking courses related to your major and engaging in stimulating conversations with peers and faculty. What do you find interesting? Surprising? Unexpected? Make a mental note of these things and consider seeking out research opportunities, internships, and other opportunities outside of class.

Third year is for brainstorming and honing in on your purpose and passions. This is the year when MOST students will take HON 301, a course that helps with Capstone planning. Narrow your focus to topics you most want to pursue. Chat with your Faculty Fellow about your interests; they may help you with project ideas or finding a potential Capstone Supervisor.

In your final two semesters, take action! You should now have a Capstone plan and Supervisor in place. Your Capstone Supervisor will provide expert guidance and may provide feedback on drafts of the written requirement or practice presentations.

Any time is a great time to view Capstone presentations at a Fall Honors Research Symposium or Spring Undergraduate Research Forum. Throughout this process, your Faculty Fellow and Honors Advisor can offer additional guidance.

 

Capstone Timeline Overview Graphic Heading link

The timeline graphic is representative of 4-year graduation, if your time in the Honors College will differ, please consult your Honors Advisor.

Capstone Timeline Graphic

Junior Year (any semester) Heading link

Anytime throughout your Junior year, students should initiate conversations with faculty about potential Honors Capstone topics and meet with the Honors Capstone specialist and/or Faculty Fellow. For detailed steps and required forms as you commence and carry out your project, please see the timeline below.

Foundations of the Future 

The Honors 301 seminar is intended for Honors College students in their junior year. Divided into four major units—research and other forms of creative scholarship, awards, career/internship/graduate school, and long-term future goals—this course will provide specific information about the next steps of your academic and professional career.

In research and other forms of creative scholarship, we will examine different research methods, consider the selection, execution, and value of a Capstone project, and learn how to read and present a journal article. In examining awards, we will show you how to locate and apply for academic and travel awards, understand their professional and personal value, and prepare resumes and personal statements for scholarship applications. The career/internship/graduate school section will aid you in preparing for life after graduation: gap year possibilities, graduate school and career decision making, and networking and mentoring strategies.

The last unit—long-term future goals—will promote broad thinking concerning civic engagement and life-long learning as well as deliver specific information on practical post-grad concerns.

 

Ideally, Honors College students will start brainstorming early about what they want to experience and accomplish in their undergraduate careers; choose classes and co-curricular activities that support those goals; initiate a Capstone Project that feeds their unique intellectual passions; and, finally, carry what they have learned forward into life beyond college.

Students have the option of pursuing a capstone inside or outside their major and discipline. In many instances, expectations for the Capstone are in line with honors quality departmental theses, senior design projects, and other senior research projects that enable students to carry out rigorous inquiry, writing, and public presentation.

Introducing the Honors Capstone Project: General information; a sample timeline and the steps to completing a Capstone; registration and paperwork; and tips about using the Capstone Project to pursue other opportunities like fellowships and graduate school admissions.

Videohttps://youtu.be/M5ssU7I-98M
Transcripthttps://uofi.box.com/v/capstonetranscript

Capstones in Specific Disciplines/Areas of Study

The Honors College encourages students to complete a Capstone Project that will simultaneously fulfill departmental or college requirements/opportunities for advanced undergraduate research and professional presentation, subject to approval by the student’s Capstone Supervisor and Faculty Fellow.

Discipline-Specific Information:

Capstones Outside Your Specific Discipline

Students must have taken sufficient coursework in the field they wish to produce a Capstone Project, and they must locate a faculty member or practitioner from that field to serve as their Capstone Supervisor.

Need Help Deciding on a Capstone In or Outside Your Major? 

Your Capstone Supervisor will be your ultimate guide along the way, but as you move through this process, you can:

  • bring general questions to and receive feedback from your Honors College primary advisor,
  • brainstorm options with and bring field-specific questions to your Faculty Fellow;
  • or make an appointment with one of the Capstone specialists in the Honors College, Kathryn Burns-Howard (kbh@uic.edu).

The Honors Capstone Project involves two semesters of work and is generally supervised ideally by a UIC faculty member. Honors College students also have the option of recruiting an expert outside of the university to be their Capstone Supervisor, as long as that person has appropriate experience in the field, as determined by the Faculty Fellow and the Honors College.

Here are some ways to recruit a Capstone Supervisor:

  1. Contact your Faculty Fellow! Your Faculty Fellow is your lifeline to the academic research community on campus. They have myriad connections to other faculty and researchers across campus who can mentor you with your Honors Capstone Project and can help you brainstorm.
  2. Approach current faculty or professors you’ve taken classes with in the past! Swing by their office hours and chat with them about your current research interests. Ask them to direct you to relevant peer-reviewed sources articles and to other faculty members or experts in the community.
  3. Consider internships, volunteer hours, or work experience as potential sites to initiate an investigation applied research project.
  4. Come meet with Rachel! She’s the Capstone Specialist and is here to help you with all stages of the Honors Capstone Project.  You can email her at rkara@uic.edu.

Note: Honors College students may complete an Honors Capstone Project outside of their major discipline if they have taken sufficient coursework in the field of interest and are able to locate an appropriate Capstone Supervisor.

The Capstone Supervisor reviews drafts, provides feedback, and guides the student as they develop their project. Therefore, the Capstone Supervisor determines whether or not an Honors Capstone Project meets the academic standards of the field for a novice researcher.

Final/Senior Year (semester 1) Heading link

Your Honors Capstone takes place across your final two semesters at UIC.

Below is a more detailed breakdown of what students should expect for the first semester of their senior/final year at UIC.

If you are a senior and intend to conduct work to satisfy your Honors capstone, you must register for HON 322. This serves as a transcript notation for your honors capstone and allows our capstone specialists to communicate important information and updates through Blackboard.

Students should NEVER register for both HON 222 and HON 322 in the same term; any student choosing to work on the Capstone and another activity during a single semester should be registered for HON 322 only.

HON 322 – Honors Capstone Activity 

0 credit hours. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grade 

Fall Course Reference Number (CRN): 29074 

Meeting with your Capstone Supervisor

The Capstone Supervisor is knowledgeable in their area of research and is a resource for the student. More specifically:

  • Students need to ascertain that the prospective Capstone Supervisor has expertise in the area of study and is willing and able to devote the time required to supervise the project effectively.
  • The Capstone Supervisor is expected to enthusiastically mentor the student throughout the project, including by
    • being available to check-in with the student on a recurring basis, ideally in person
    • identifying appropriate research methods and obtaining background reading materials
    • reading and critiquing drafts in a timely manner
    • consulting with the student regularly on the scope and methodology of the project.
    • helping the student find appropriate public presentation venues and forms of presentation
    • evaluating the project to determine whether it meets academic standards and disciplinary requirements
    • attending the public presentation, if possible

Meeting with your Faculty Fellow 

The Faculty Fellow ensures that the student successfully fulfills the Capstone Project requirements. More specifically:

  • The Fellow may assist the student in finding an appropriate Capstone Supervisor.
  • The Fellow may periodically check with the student to ensure that the project is progressing as expected and that the student is working well under the Capstone Supervisor.
  • The Fellow is expected to comment on the quality of the Capstone Project and must certify that it meets the Honors College requirements.
  • Some Fellows also serve as Capstone Supervisors for one or more Honors College students, while others do not.

The Honors College Capstone Agreement Form is required for any student who is registered for HON 322. It is the first (#1) of a series of 4 forms related to the Capstone. This is in lieu of the Honors Activity Agreement Form, and must be completed at the beginning of the semester in which a student begins work on the Capstone project. After the Capstone Agreement Form is submitted by the student in HARS, the Project Supervisor will be notified within one business day for electronic approval.

Only after the Project Supervisor has approved the project, will the Fellow be notified for electronic approval. The form should be created in HARS by the end of the third week of the semester.

Log into the Honors Activity Reporting System to generate and print your Capstone Agreement Form.

Registering for HON 322 also involves the following paperwork:

Capstone Agreement Form

Students must submit a signed Capstone Agreement Form to the Honors College front desk by the third Friday of the first semester in which they are enrolled in HON 322.

The form includes a section for the student to include a project proposal. The project proposal should include the following elements:

  1. Title
  2. Purpose and Goal of the Research – A brief summary of the issues to be addressed and/or questions to be investigated. The issues described should be as specific as possible, and the student may wish to include a summary of preliminary background research.
  3. Methodology and Data/Materials Collection – An explanation of what data or other materials are to be collected to answer the research question(s) and how.
  4. Analysis and Anticipated Results – An explanation of how the data or materials will be analyzed and the potential scholarly contribution of the results from the study.
  5. Preliminary Schedule – A tentative schedule for completing the above steps in two semesters, including plans for preparing and conducting the public presentation. For example, students will likely carry out the necessary background literature review and conduct the bulk of their research during the first semester of the Capstone and then devote the second semester to writing up research and preparing a poster, a PowerPoint presentation, and/or a lecture for public presentation. The venue for public presentation should also be identified.

Students should provide the Capstone Supervisor and Faculty Fellow with an initial draft of the project proposal so that they are able to address their concerns prior to the student submitting the proposal by the third Friday of the semester.

Capstone Progress Report

At the end of the first semester, students submit a Capstone Progress Form indicating the progress made on the project and must be signed by the Project Supervisor. Students must have a completed Capstone Agreement Form approved by both the Capstone Supervisor and the Faculty Fellow before they can access and submit their Capstone Progress Report.

  • The Capstone Progress Form is due, signed and submitted in HARS, by the last day of classes.
  • Questions about your Capstone Progress Report should be directed to your Capstone Supersivor or your Honors primary advisor

Final/Senior Year (semester 2) Heading link

Your Honors Capstone takes place across your final two semesters at UIC.

Below is a more detailed breakdown of what students should expect for the second semester of their senior/final year at UIC.

Students are expected to complete the Capstone Project over two semesters, and they must enroll in HON 322 (0-credit hours) for each of those semesters. HON 322 replaces HON 222 as the required Honors College course registration. Students who complete a Capstone prior to their last semester at UIC should enroll in HON 222 for subsequent semesters and resume Honors Activities until graduation.

In addition to registering for HON 322, students may also enroll in research or independent study courses during their work on the project. Departmental advisors, Faculty Fellows, Capstone Supervisors, and Honors College staff can help identify such courses.

If you are a senior and intend to conduct work to satisfy your Honors capstone, you must register for HON 322. This serves as a transcript notation for your honors capstone and allows our capstone specialists to communicate important information and updates through Blackboard. Students should NEVER register for both HON 222 and HON 322 in the same term; any student choosing to work on the Capstone and another activity during a single semester should be registered for HON 322 only.

HON 322 – Honors Capstone Activity 

0 credit hours. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grade 

Fall 2022 Course Reference Number (CRN): 29074 

Meeting with your Capstone Supervisor

At the start of your second semester, you should meet with your Capstone Supervisor to discuss the parameters and expectations of (1) written portion and (2) public presentation

To help you prepare for the meeting, please consider reviewing examples of Capstone projects from former Honors students.

Verified UIC students and faculty/staff can access an evolving collection of Capstone examples at https://uofi.box.com/v/MoreCapstoneExamples. Graduating Honors College students have consented to share their supervised intellectual property within UIC only, and not all projects are included in their entirety. (NOTE: You must have a UIC Netid and Box account to view these files. Create Box Account here.)

Below is list of sample capstones from former Honors students:

Capstone Proposal Update Form

  • At the beginning of the second semester of the Capstone, students must submit a Capstone Proposal Update Form to describe any changes to the original proposal and to outline a schedule or timeline for completion of the project. Both the Capstone Supervisor and the Faculty Fellow must sign the Capstone Proposal Update Form. In the cases when the Capstone Supervisor is different than the Faculty Fellow, this midway review is another opportunity for the Fellow to ensure the proposed work is meeting Honors College standards.
  • The signed Capstone Proposal Update Form is due in HARS at the end of the third week of the second Capstone semester.

Students are also required to present their research publicly in some form. Depending on the project discipline, the presentation could be in the form of:

  • A lecture
  • A poster presentation
  • A reading or “unveiling” of a creative work
  • A concert or other type of performance,
  • A “defense” of the undergraduate thesis, preferably with the opportunity for questions, comments, and evaluation by the audience

The presentation may also take place in a variety of settings, including:

  1. an academic symposium outside the university (e.g., a national/international or regional scholarly conference for a particular discipline);
  2. a large university-wide event (e.g., Undergraduate Research Forum in the spring semester);
  3. the Honors College Research Symposium (held in the fall semester); or
  4. a forum or symposium sponsored by the department or college (e.g., the UIC Engineering Expo in the spring semester).

A presentation to other students in a class or lab setting is NOT sufficient to satisfy the public presentation requirement. The project must be presented in a context or to an audience beyond the one in which it was developed.

The Capstone Supervisor and Faculty Fellow must approve the public presentation event as an academically appropriate venue. The Capstone Supervisor should attend the public presentation or otherwise verify that the presentation was completed in a professional manner. Faculty Fellows are also encouraged to attend the presentation whenever possible.

The public presentation may take place:

  1. In a forum/symposium sponsored by the department or college (e.g., an “undergraduate research day” scheduled at a department or college level);
  2. At a large university-wide event (e.g., the annual Undergraduate Research Forum held in the spring semester);
  3. At the Honors College Research Symposium (held in fall semester); or
  4. At an academic symposium outside the university (e.g., a national or regional scholarly conference for a particular discipline).

The presentation may be a lecture or oral presentation (including PowerPoint-aided talks), a poster presentation, a reading or “unveiling” of creative work, a concert or other type of performance, or a “defense” of the undergraduate thesis. Consult with your Capstone Supervisor to identify an appropriate outlet and form for your presentation.

Video Guide: Poster Design and Presentation: How to design a good research poster and present it to your audience.

I Understand the written requirement. Why should I present the project in public? 

Presentation of the results of your work in some form of public academic or professional forum allows you to showcase your accomplishments. It is a great opportunity to share ideas and receive constructive feedback from your colleagues. And it is an important chance to network with academics, professionals, alumni, and others in your field interested in similar lines of inquiry. Overall, it will be a proud moment for you, your Capstone Supervisor, your Faculty Fellow, your family and friends, and of course, the Honors College.

Examples of presentation venues include:

  • Undergraduate Research Forum — Annual event in April
  • Honors College Research Symposium — Annual event in November
  • Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Forum — Annual event in April

Capstone Completion Form

Both the Capstone Supervisor and the Faculty Fellow must approve the final project and sign the Capstone Completion Form at the conclusion of the project.

While no formal grade will be given by the Honors College on either the written portion or the public presentation of the project, the Capstone Supervisor indicates that the project is acceptable, and the Faculty Fellow certifies that the project meets the Honors College Capstone requirements.

The Capstone Completion Form is due by the last day of classes.

Final Capstone Submission to Blackboard

The student is responsible for submitting their final Honors Capstone Project (written thesis and/or Scholarly Report, and documentation of public presentation) to the Honors College by the last day of classes in the second semester via the Blackboard course site HON 322.

The Capstone Supervisor is responsible for addressing any possible academic honesty and plagiarism issues that are discovered when the student submits drafts of the written portion of their Capstone Project through SafeAssign. Honors Capstone students have the ability to make unlimited submissions of capstone drafts within their Blackboard course site HON 322. They have access to their SafeAssign originality report, and should submit that report to the Capstone Supervisor as part of the iterative writing process. Students who struggle with paraphrasing, quoting, and properly citing should be referred to the UIC Writing Center (https://writingcenter.uic.edu) for support.

  • Note: The Honors College requires students to run their final capstone submission through SafeAssign. Any academic honesty issues identified at that time may impact the student’s ability to graduate as a member of the Honors College and may be reported for a formal Standards of Conduct Review. The Capstone Supervisor at that time will be contacted about the academic honesty issue. Please work with the student throughout the iterative process to address issues prior to this point.

Student Perspectives Heading link

“My Capstone topic is connected to my personal interests because I strongly believe that adequate housing is a basic human right and I am an advocate for fair and equal access to housing for all.”

– Brianna Moling, 2022 Graduate

To read more about Brianna Moling’s Capstone journey and advice for future students, click the link below.

Capstone Journeys

Frequently Asked Questions Heading link