Capstone projects should be initiated and completed in two semesters of continuous effort.
All approvals and documentation for the capstone project must be on file one week before the end of the degree candidate's final semester.
Submission requirements for theses and capstone projects are available in the Graduate Studies office.
Enrollment in the Capstone Project
Two three-hour courses, Capstone Project in Liberal Studies I (LBST 697)and Capstone Project in Liberal Studies II (LBST 698), award credit for progress toward and completion of the project. The courses are intended to be taken in sequence and without interruption. Final grades are awarded as "Satisfactory" or "Unsatisfactory" only, although an incomplete or a withdrawal is also an option.
Choosing an Advisor
Before or immediately after signing up for the first of these courses, the student should have sought out and secured the agreement of a capstone advisor for the project. The person will serve as the chair of the project committee. This capstone advisor may or may not be the advisor with whom the student has counseled for other parts of the MALS degree. It should be the best person to assist the student in designing and completing the project in mind.
After enrolling in LBST 697, the project advisor will assist the student in preparing a written proposal that describes, in as much detail as possible, what he or she will attempt to do and how it will be done. In addition to a narrative, a proposal for a written thesis should include a topic outline and a preliminary bibliography. A sample proposal is available online.
When a workable and literate proposal is completed, it will be submitted to two other members of the MALS faculty who, along with the student's advisor, will constitute his or her capstone committee. Students are encouraged to find their other committee members with the help of the chair of the project committee. If no names automatically recommend themselves or faculty members are busy with other projects, the director of the MALS program will make appointments to the student's committee or will serve himself.
Together, the committee will work toward the completion of a final proposal. This is often a complex evolutionary process, with revisions made by author, advisor and committee members. Do not be surprised to encounter questions or criticism that require additional work and rewriting.
Approval by at least two committee members is needed for the proposal to be accepted.
After the proposal has been approved, work on the capstone project may begin. The faculty advisor will monitor progress and will be responsible for assigning the grade for LBST 697 a satisfactory or unsatisfactory grade, depending upon the student's progress.
At the beginning of the next semester (generally fall or spring, though summer enrollment is feasible depending on permission and availability of committee members), the student will enroll in LBST 698 and will continue working on his or her project with the advisor. When the work is acceptable to both parties, it must be presented to the other committee members for their approval.
A second meeting will be held, providing the student with the opportunity to discuss progress and answer questions. It is possible that additional changes may be requested by the committee at this time. Approval by at least two committee members is needed for the project to be accepted.
It is important for students to realize that the capstone project is a collaborative effort, and committee members who sign off on it are giving their approval to a project that will be archived in the library. Expect and welcome revisions. Completed MALS projects are available in the University Archives of the Rice Library for comparison and can serve as models.
Consider for performance type projects (which could include a variety of media, as well as web site creation projects or various instructional manuals), as well as for other types of projects that the student create a "Reflection" section in his or her final project. This section would be devoted to the student reflecting on the interdisciplinary aspect of his or her project and how the student's overall education, and especially coursework, contributed to the final proposal and project. Along with "Reflection" section, it might also be necessary for the proposal to be part of final project in order to establish a context for the final project. This is particularly appropriate given the untraditional nature of many MALS projects.
Written projects will need to be bound following standards outlined in the Graduate Studies Office's procedures for submission of the master's thesis or capstone project report. Other types of documentation may be necessary for projects that are not in the traditional written form such as slides, tapes, recordings, handbooks and websites. Expenses for documentation are the responsibility of the candidate.
For written projects, you should follow as closely as you can the form described in the project submission procedures as outlined by Graduate Studies. Exceptions should be discussed with and agreed to by your advisor and committee. The appropriate style for citations and footnotes or endnotes should be determined by your advisor. The statement "(Two of three signatures required)" should appear centered at the bottom of the acceptance page.
For non written projects, an acceptance form - the Thesis Routing Form - must be filed in the Graduate Studies Office and must be accompanied by the type of documentation approved by the committee.