Capstone FAQ

Information sessions are hosted by the Capstone instructors each autumn and spring. Students should review the presentation slides. Watch a recorded version of a recent information session.

Q: What students at the Information School work on a Capstone project?

A: All MLIS, MSIM, and Informatics students are required to complete a Capstone project as part of their degree. An exception is Mid-Career MSIM students entering Autumn 2015 or later, for whom Capstone is optional.

Q: Where do I do my project?

A: Anywhere you can find a client to sponsor your project. It can be your employer, or any other organization with a legitimate project. An iSchool faculty or staff member may even be available to sponsor your project, especially if you are interested in working on a research-based Capstone.  Past Capstone project examples are available in the archives.

Q: Should I do a group or an individual Capstone project?

A: That’s up to you. Both are viable options. Teams should be no larger than 4 members.  Some factors you may wish to take into account include:

  • Working situation: Will interaction with classmates be difficult? For instance, you may be performing the work in a secure environment where others may not be permitted to see the information you are working with. If so, you may want to present a plan by yourself.
  • The project scope: How big is the project? A larger project may require the efforts of more than one person to complete in a quarter.
  • The skill set required to do the project. Some projects may require a high level of skill in a wide range of areas – data collection, programming, visual information presentation, etc. – so that it may make sense to assemble a team of individuals with complementary skills.

Q. How do you define a Capstone project as design-based or research-based?

A. Design-based projects are experiences that apply knowledge and skill to address an information problem or opportunity.  The end goal is usually some tangible deliverable such as analysis with recommendations, a system prototype, a training plan or a set of procedures.

Research-based projects address a research question, one defined by the project team or the outside sponsor.  If the research question is self-defined, the project still requires a sponsor (often an iSchool faculty member), who may act in a mentoring role. The end goal is some form of reporting of the research results.

Q: Can I team up with a student not in my program mode?

A: We encourage the teaming up of students across program modes. MLIS students may partner with an MSIM student, Full time MSIM and Mid-Career MSIM students may partner, online students may partner with residential students, etc. Online students may work virtually with residential students in either MLIS or MSIM.

Q: What if I do a group project at my workplace?

A: If you want to do a Capstone project at your normal place of work (not your internship site, you will need to separate the school project from the work project and discuss this with the Capstone instructors prior to approval. As long as clear separation of the project from your normal work duties can be established, this is a perfectly viable option.

Q: Can I do Capstone concurrently with an internship?

A: Students may not undertake an internship and Capstone project concurrently with the same sponsor. You may undertake a Capstone project with your internship sponsor in the quarters after you complete your internship.

Q: What are the requirements of the sponsor?

A: The primary requirement of the sponsor is to provide access to any resources, data, or people
necessary to successfully complete the project.   Everything else is to be agreed upon between the Capstone students and the sponsor. The Capstone student team will design a communication plan for interacting with the sponsor. The iSchool also encourage sponsors to attend the poster event at the end of the spring quarter.

Q: What if my project contains proprietary or confidential information?

A: If confidentiality of any nature is required by the employer or client/sponsor of your project you will need to investigate the options of how this can be handled so that it does not affect your project. Solutions to this problem will vary from project to project and need to be addressed individually and as they arise. Some options may include non-disclosure statements, removal of sensitive information from presentations, etc.

Q. How do I know if my project is big enough to or too big to qualify as a Capstone project?

A. A Capstone project qualifies not based on the size of the project, but the degree to which the project is student-directed and the ability to deliver results in the time available.  If the project is large and cannot be completed in the spring quarter, the team must negotiate the scope and deliverables with the sponsor.  Some students choose to continue to work on the project beyond the course requirements.  Capstone projects are often one discrete part of a larger project.

Q: What is the project management prerequisite requirement?

A: MLIS students are required to take INFX 505 (Project Management) prior to INFX 595 (Capstone I); you may opt to petition out of this requirement by submitting this form.  MSIM students are expected to have completed IMT 587 Principles of Information Project Management or an equivalent course or experience.  In addition, MLIS and MSIM students must have 30 credits completed towards their degree prior to doing Capstone.

Q: Can I complete my Capstone without enrolling in INFX 595 and INFX 596?

A: No. Capstone projects should be completed in both winter (INFX 595) and spring (INFX 596) quarters. Both are required for successful completion of the Capstone experience. Successful completion of INFX 595 is a prerequisite for INFX 596.

Q: Must I be able to attend class on campus to enroll in INFX 595 and INFX 596?

A: No, both courses will be available in online mode.

Q: Once I identify a Capstone project, must I report it somewhere?

A: Students will be asked to provide details on your project the first week of INFX 595.  We do ask students to enter a Capstone not found through iCareers into the system via a placement form.  See the Report an Experiential Learning Placement link in the shortcuts at iCareers home. Note that you must fill out the Experiential Learning Initial Survey before you can enter a placement.

Q. I’ve got my Capstone lined up.  What do I need to do between now and the beginning of INFX 595 (Capstone I) winter quarter?

A. You should initiate preliminary discussions with your sponsor on defining the project itself, as you will be asked to write a project proposal in the first part of INFX 595 that describes the scope of the project; and later in the quarter, you will create the project schedule.