Informatics Capstone Details
The Informatics Capstone is a culminating experience that challenges you to use and demonstrate all the knowledge and skills you’ve learned at the iSchool. Informatics students can choose to complete a practical Capstone (INFO 490/491), an intensive Capstone (INFO 492), or a research Capstone (INFO 493). All Capstone options require the same amount of work from students (8 credits) but involve different timelines and activities.
All Informatics students are required to complete a Capstone to graduate — but which type you choose is up to you!
The first and most common type of Capstone is a practical Capstone. This involves taking two courses, INFO 490 (4 credits) and INFO 491 (4 credits), during the winter and spring quarters of your final year before graduation. These experiences guide you through forming a team, developing a project, and completing the project in time for the spring Capstone event. The practical Capstone is the “usual” Capstone completed by most Informatics students — if someone just says “Capstone,” this is what they are referring to.
Students do a wide range of Capstones, including designing new information experiences, analyzing an information system, devising new information workflows, and even bootstrapping startups.
To complete a practical Capstone, you will need to enroll in INFO 490 in winter and INFO 491 in spring. Be sure to also attend the annual Capstone Resource Night in autumn to learn more about the process, registering and forming teams.
The second type of Capstone is an intensive Capstone. This is similar to the practical capstone, but is completed in a compressed intensive experience during a single quarter. Students take a single course, INFO 492 (8 credits), usually during the autumn or winter quarter of your final year before graduation. This experience guides you through working on a specific topic or theme outlined by the instructor.
The specific goals and topics of each intensive Capstone vary with the offering and the instructor’s expertise — each intensive Capstone is unique. But overall, you will identify an information problem, research the problem space to design and develop a solution.
More information on specific intensive Capstones can be found on the list of special topics.
To complete an intensive Capstone, you will need to enroll in one of the offered sections of INFO 492. Please note that space is limited for these experiences; if you’re not able to enroll in an intensive Capstone, you will need to complete a practical or research Capstone instead.
The third type of Capstone is a research Capstone. This experience is particularly good for students who are interested in pursuing academic research careers through doctoral studies, or are just interested in contributing to research while at the university. Completing a research Capstone involves taking 8 credits of INFO 493, but you can spread this out over as many quarters as you like (usually two or three). Through this experience you will participate in academic research guided and mentored by an iSchool faculty member. This may be a research project led by you, or a significant contribution to an existing project led by a faculty member. You will also reflect on the integration of this research and the Informatics degree itself, allowing this research to provide a culminating experience for the Informatics program.
To complete a research Capstone, you must do the following:
- Find an iSchool faculty member who is willing to advise you on your research. The faculty member can be any core, adjunct or affiliate iSchool faculty member with a Ph.D. or comparable research experience. Tip: If your capstone advisor appears in the iSchool directory using the “Core Faculty” or “Adjunct/Affiliate” filters, then they are eligible to be your advisor.
- Contact the potential advisor at least 3-4 weeks in advance of the quarter when you intend to begin your research.
- If you intend to complete your research capstone across multiple quarters, ensure your advisor can support that. A research Capstone should involve a single project or line of research to provide a culminating experience.
- Once you find a faculty member who agrees to supervisor your research Capstone, work with your faculty supervisor to create a research plan. Your research plan should include the following:
- A description of the research, including the research question(s) being explored and what research activities the student will do.
- A planned timeline for performing those research activities
- A format for the written deliverable of the research results
- Once you have a finalized research plan, you will need to submit the following items to Student Services by filling out the research Capstone proposal form.
- Student Information - Name, Student ID, Email
- Research Plan – Please submit it in a Word doc or PDF format
- Faculty Supervisor Contact & Faculty Approval Documentation
- Faculty Approval - We need to see evidence that you have been communicating with your faculty supervisor. You can submit a screenshot of an email sent from your faculty supervisor approving your research plan and agreeing to supervise your research.
- Student Services will review your submission to ensure that you have submitted a completed proposal. Once your proposal has been reviewed, you will be emailed the details to get registered for the course.
It can take around 3-4 business days to review these proposals. To ensure that students are registered in a timely fashion, all research Capstone proposals are due 1 week prior to the quarter you intend to start.
Research Capstone Expectations
- All research capstones are expected to include written documentation of research activities and findings. This could be a research paper (co-)authored by you the student, a research log, or some other format approved by your advisor.
- You will also be expected to explicitly reflect on and connect your research activities to the skills and knowledge you’ve learned in the rest of your Informatics courses. This is not just research; it is Capstone research!
- Note that a research Capstone requires 8 credits of work, or approximately 250 hours (about eight weeks of full-time effort in the summer, or 32 weeks of quarter-time effort in an academic year). Your advisor will be responsible for ensuring that your work is appropriately scoped.
To be clear: you can do research in the iSchool even if it is not associated with Capstone work — you can do research and complete a practical Capstone. For more information on doing research in the iSchool, see Participating in iSchool Research.