Are There Capstone Projects in Online College?

Over the years, educators have discovered that testing is not the best way to see if students have understood and can apply what they have learned in a class. For many years, the thesis has been the final project for Master’s degree candidates, while for doctoral students it is the dissertation. In many schools, the capstone has replaced the final deliverable for either a course or program. If you are an online student, will you find capstone projects in online college?

What is a Capstone Project?

A capstone project gives a student and teacher a way to measure the ability to apply the analytical knowledge and practical skills learned in a course or degree program. A capstone project in online college involves simulated application of skills instead of real hands-on testing but not always. This depends on the school attended and the specific program

Is a Capstone Project Required for Every Course?

The use of capstone projects is as varied as the myriad types of degrees offered by online colleges. On the undergraduate level, some degree programs may require a culminating capstone at the end of their program that is designed for students to bring together everything they have learned during their education. On the other hand, some capstone projects are required at the end of a single course. These capstones are probably not required for every course, but that depends on the college. Credit wise, capstone projects in online college may be stand-alone courses and carry three or four credits whereas in other cases, students may have the option to add an extra credit to a standard three-credit course.

What’s the Difference Between a Thesis and a Capstone Project?

Both a thesis and capstone project have the same goal – for the student to demonstrate mastery in the subject. A capstone project is more flexible than a thesis and looks at the student’s ability to apply the core concepts covered in the degree program to a reality-based situation. On the other hand, a thesis is a single written paper based around a specific thesis statement or purpose. It involves considerable research, data analysis and assessment, and developing a conclusion.

What Does it Mean to Defend a Thesis?

Online capstones can be achieved with a partner or small group using digital communication tools, while a thesis is almost always prepared individually. Common types of capstone projects include case studies, evaluations focusing on outcomes, surveys or some other relevant project. A capstone can also be a self-directed research paper where a student integrates all the things learned in the course or degree program and that presents a unique view on the topic. Other capstone project examples include putting together a feasibility plan for a new business or creating a portfolio of advertising or clothing designs.

As the value of education continues to grow, so do the opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in unique ways. The most valuable way for online students to test their proficiencies and for instructors to be able to evaluate their skills, is for them to participate in capstone projects in online college. Not only do the results of the capstone project provide a valuable addition to the resume, they also provide a most effective way of reinforcing the student’s knowledge.