Link to USI Home Link to College of Liberal Arts Home Liberal Arts banner
Link to USI Home Link 'for Students' Link 'for Prospective Students' Link 'for Alumni and Friends' Link 'for Faculty and Staff'
Master of Arts in Liberal Studies


Program Objectives

Program Requirements

Capstone Project

Contact Us

LA Home

USI Home

Completion of the Capstone Project

LBST 697 and 698

Capstone Projects should be initiated and completed in two semesters of continuous effort. For this reason the faculty have devised two three hour courses, LBST 697 Capstone Project in Liberal Studies I and LBST 698 Capstone Project in Liberal Studies II, to 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.


Before or immediately after you sign up for the first of these courses, you should have sought out and secured the agreement of a capstone advisor for your project. The person will serve as the Chair of your Project Committee. (See "Duties of the Chair.")   This capstone advisor may or may not be the advisor with whom you have counseled for other parts of the MALS degree; it should be the best person to assist you in designing and completing the project you have in mind.

Written Proposal

After you have signed up for LBST 697, your advisor will assist you in preparing a written proposal that describes, in as much detail as possible, what you will attempt to do and how you will do it. In addition to a narrative, a proposal for a written thesis should include a topic outline and a preliminary bibliography. (See model to be followed for the Capstone Proposal.)

Project Committee

When a workable and literate proposal is completed, it will be submitted to two other members of the MALS faculty who, along with your advisor, will constitute your capstone committee. You are encouraged to find your other committee members with the help of the chair of your Project Committee. In many instances it will be better that you have all your committee members available before you begin work on the proposal stage. Again, you are free to approach faculty members with whom you feel comfortable and who you and your advisor feel are appropriate. If no names automatically recommend themselves or faculty members are busy with other projects, the director of the MALS program will make appointments to your 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 on your part. Use a word processor. Approval by at least two committee members is needed for the proposal to be accepted.

The Project

After the proposal has been approved, you begin work on the Project per se, keeping your advisor abreast of your progress. He or she will monitor your progress and will be responsible for assigning the grade for LBST 697 a "U" or and "S" depending upon the progress you have made (a "U" would mean repeating the course).

At the beginning of the next semester (fall or spring, you are not required to sign up in the summer though summer enrollment is feasible depending on permission and availability of committee members), you will sign up for LBST 698 and will continue working on your project with your advisor. When the work is acceptable to both of you, it must be presented to the other committee members for their approval. A second meeting will be held, providing you with the opportunity to discuss your work 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 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 Archives of the university library for comparison and can serve as models.

Reflection Section

Consider for “performance” type projects (could include a variety of media, as well as web site creation type projects or various “How To” manuals), as well as for other types of projects that the student create a “Reflection” section in their final project. This section would be devoted to the student “reflecting” on the interdisciplinary aspect of their project and how their overall education and especially their course work contributed to the final proposal and project. Along with “Reflection” section it might also be necessary for 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 School "Guide." Other types of documentation may be necessary for projects that are not in the traditional written form e.g. slides, tapes, recordings, handbooks, websites. Expenses for documentation are the responsibility of the candidate.

Manuscript Form

For written projects, you should follow as closely as you can the form described in the "Guide." 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.

Non-Written Projects

For non written projects an acceptance form (the form is called the Thesis Routing Form) the same as the one described in the "Guide" must be filed in the Graduate Studies Office and must be accompanied by the type of documentation approved by the committee.

All Approvals and Documentation Must Be on File One Week Before the End of the Semester.

Good luck in completing the Capstone Project!