What Is the Difference Between a Capstone and a Thesis?
The main difference between a capstone project and a thesis is that a capstone project addresses a specific problem, issue or concern in your field of study, and a thesis attempts to create new knowledge. A capstone project focuses on a narrow, specific topic , whereas a thesis addresses a broader, generalized issue .
Explore this article
- Capstone Project: Coursework Application
- Capstone Project: Select a Narrow Topic
- Thesis Paper: Create and Prove or Disprove a Hypothesis
- Thesis Paper: Professional Considerations
1 Capstone Project: Coursework Application
A capstone project tests your understanding of core concepts in your field of study and requires you to apply them to current situations. For example, a capstone project might require you to produce a solution to a business or scientific problem. Capstone projects don't require original research, but you must perform background analysis, conduct library research, examine similar projects and review best practices, according to the University of North Carolina. Capstone projects may be completed individually or in small groups . Some undergraduate and graduate programs require students to complete capstone projects to graduate. Consult your adviser about specific capstone requirements.
2 Capstone Project: Select a Narrow Topic
Choose a narrow topic for a capstone project, for which you can provide expertise and a comprehensive analysis. For example, your capstone project might address how a lack of protein affects elementary students' classroom learning or why some consumers are more likely to buy impulsively. In some cases, a capstone project deals with a specific company that's trying to improve productivity or solve a workplace concern. Most capstone projects require a written paper of approximately 15 to 25 pages, according to the University of Colorado. Your adviser may require you to present your project in public and complete a self-reflective evaluation.
3 Thesis Paper: Create and Prove or Disprove a Hypothesis
A thesis paper differs from a capstone project because you must create new knowledge by developing a hypothesis, conducting data analysis, assessing your results, drawing conclusions from your research and comparing your results to others. "A thesis paper feels more like the scientific method than a field project," according to the University of Wisconsin. You must work independently on a thesis instead of doing group projects . Thesis papers are generally reserved for graduate students.
4 Thesis Paper: Professional Considerations
A thesis paper is beneficial to students who plan to enter a Ph.D. program or conduct individual research related to their postgraduate studies or long-term careers. It's more time-consuming than a capstone project and is worth more academic credit hours. A thesis paper can be completed over several semesters, but a capstone project is generally a single-semester requirement . Course instructors and faculty advisers grade capstone projects, but a larger thesis committee grades thesis papers.
- 1 University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh Department of Public Administration: Capstone, Field Project or Thesis?
- 2 University of Colorado Boulder Interdisciplinary Telecom Program: Capstone Versus Thesis
- 3 University of Washington: What Is the Difference Between a Capstone Project and a MasterFINAL.docx
About the Author
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.
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What Is The Difference Between Capstone Project And Research Project?
The word ‘capstone ‘ might seem confusing to you, but in simple words, capstone means ‘the high point’ or ‘completion marker’ in a student’s career. A capstone project is mainly a two-semester project that is conducted in the final year of graduation, where students are supposed to independently or collectively research their topic of interest and participate in debates on relevant topics to gain deep knowledge in the subject. The students typically complete it in their final year of graduation.
A research project is completed through careful study conducted through scientific methods and a systematic approach.
Both types of projects help the students expand their knowledge base in their respective disciplines during graduation. They also pave a path for students who want to improve their professional skills. Let’s understand the difference between a capstone project and a research project in detail.
What Is the Key Difference Between a Capstone Project and a Research Project?
To better understand the differences, you first need to know in detail what a Capstone project and a Research Project are. Read along to learn about them in detail –
What is a Capstone Project?
A capstone project focuses mainly on developing research skills in students . It helps to develop a student mindset to think critically, develop communication skills, induce feelings of the importance of teamwork in students, and many other skills that help the students to face real-world problems once they get out of college. Such skills help the students to analyze problems carefully and find solutions to them accordingly. A capstone project can be submitted in any form, i.e., it can be either a presentation or a demonstrative film, or just a file with handwritten notes in it. A capstone project acts as a final nail in the coffin that concludes a student’s academic career and helps them kickstart their professional career in a better way.
What is the purpose of a Capstone Project?
Institutions conduct capstone projects for the following reasons:
- Prepare You for the Upcoming Challenges When you participate in a capstone project, you learn about different challenges that arise in the professional world. Such projects help students to come ahead and show their decision-making and leadership skills. It helps them to come out as more responsible and well-rounded graduates.
- Teaching the Importance of Teamwork Most capstone projects are based on the collaborative participation of students. It helps the students to incorporate the feeling of teamwork and respect towards everyone in themselves, which helps them to be better people in life. Such qualities help students to climb the corporate ladder faster in this competitive space.
- Practical Experience When you step out of college and enter the professional world, recruiters first ask for work experience. Working on a capstone project provides many practical experiences which are required in the corporate world to be a successful person. Participating in a capstone project allows you to gain knowledge and teaches you how to apply that knowledge in practical fields.
- Choose the Right Profession A capstone project research is based on all the knowledge that they gain right from the start of their graduation program. This lets the students know about their interests, which helps them choose the right profession after college. It lets the learners sharpen their skills one last time before stepping out of the educational environment.
- Increase in Self-confidence Among Aspirants Capstone projects demand the long-term involvement of students and require them to take responsibility and stay committed to a certain goal. Completing such projects, which require a great amount of hard work, helps boost confidence and helps to remove the false perceptions they have made towards themselves.
What is a Research-oriented Project?
A research project stresses developing or seeking theories or proposing a thesis about the relevant topic. The research project begins with a formal study of the hypothesis about the relevant topic. Then this hypothesis is studied and tested under various conditions. From this study, students get to know about the problems in the proposed hypothesis and what can be the solutions to it. A research project may include surveys or interviews which are conducted on relevant topics and persons. On the basis of the obtained outcomes, a new theory is given in the form of a result. Since students get a chance to demonstrate their skills fully, a research project can also be included in the employment portfolio.
What is the purpose of a Research project?
A research project is aimed to fulfill the following purposes –
- Propose a Thesis on the Basis of Proper Facts and Data Research projects primarily focus on proving a hypothesis right or wrong on the basis of relevant data. This helps students to develop a research-oriented mindset.
- Get a First-hand Experience of What It Takes to Prepare a Research Paper Students first come across a research paper when they get enrolled in their graduation course. Such projects aim at teaching the students the amount of effort and time that has been put into such research papers.
- To Provide In-depth Knowledge of a Subject Research projects are generally conducted on subjects that require in-depth understanding, which helps the students better grasp the topic through self-thesis. Such projects help to develop curiosity among students regarding the subject.
- To Develop Problem-solving Skills in Students. One of the aims of research-oriented projects is to find flaws in the given theory and find optimal solutions to them. It helps the students to develop skills to tackle any problem they come across.
- Give a New Trajectory to Thinking Research projects aim to develop students’ thinking so they can learn to find multiple ways to look at any scenario they come across. This further helps in developing problem-solving skills.
Difference Between A Capstone Project And A Mini Project
Both project types have their own pros and cons. Let’s discuss!
- Research projects focus more on developing or proposing theories, whereas capstone projects focus more on achieving tangible or intangible results through research.
- Since a capstone project is meant to be completed in the final year of graduation, it is much less time-consuming when compared to a Research oriented project. Research projects require students to put in greater amounts of knowledge, time, and effort in comparison to a capstone project.
- A capstone project, though, is not a necessity for students who want to pursue their career in a related topic; it helps them to develop skills that can help them to build a good career in the subject . But to become an expert in the field , one must have done enough research on it, which can be done by accomplishing a research project on a suitable subject.
- A research project tests the level of effort a student is ready to put into a particular topic. It tests their patience level as well as their hunger for knowledge in the particular subject, whereas a capstone project focuses primarily on developing skills in the relevant subject in students that would help them to face real-world scenarios after graduation.
What are the Benefits of a Capstone Project?
Capstone projects provide you with many benefits in academic as well as professional fields.
Some of them are mentioned below:
- Since topics for a capstone project are generally based on the curriculum of your graduation program, properly preparing a capstone project will help boost your college preparedness.
- Capstone projects help to increase the skills and knowledge of learners. This gives you a competitive edge over other graduates who don’t participate in such projects in the corporate world.
- Capstone projects prove to be setting stones in your professional career. They help you build your employment portfolio. These projects help you to understand your job skills better and let you know a deeper knowledge of these skills. A better knowledge of your skills helps you in choosing the right path for your career development.
- It helps in improving research-making skills. Having good research-making skills makes you stand out from the crowd and open better opportunities for you in the future.
What are the Benefits of a Research Project?
Research projects aim at indulging qualities like patience, hard work, etc., in the learners, which prove to be beneficiary in the future. Apart from these, you can also avail many benefits through such projects.
- Research helps expand your knowledge base, which can be super beneficial in your academics and the professional world.
- When you work on a research project, you have a tendency to stay updated with the latest and most accurate information. This habit prevents you from lagging behind your competitors.
- You need to be serious when you are working on a research project. These projects help to build up seriousness in you towards your goal. Also, it increases your credibility as a graduate among your colleagues.
- When you have enough knowledge about anything, you get an inner boost of confidence. Research projects help you gain in-depth knowledge of a subject, which helps you present yourself properly in front of others.
We hope you understand capstone project meaning now. Such projects are conducted during the final year of graduate programs and focus on developing skills like research-making in a student, which would benefit them when they are ready to move out of college and face real-world challenges. Not all colleges conduct capstone projects. Some schools make them mandatory only at certain degree levels or majors.
Research projects that are generally more time-consuming than capstone projects target the development of skills like open mindset and decision-making.
Both types of projects help a student excel in their academics as well as in the professional world. These projects test a student in every aspect in such a manner that they can easily become part of anyone’s professional portfolio.
These projects help students develop the necessary skills to survive in this competitive space. Undoubtedly, these projects require an individual to do a lot of hard work and research, and the benefits you can avail yourself through them are good enough to open immense opportunities for you in the future. For more information on projects, visit the UNext Jigsaw .
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Home » Education » What is the Difference Between Capstone and Thesis
What is the Difference Between Capstone and Thesis
The main difference between capstone and thesis is that capstone involves using existing knowledge to solve a problem in a particular field of study, whereas thesis is more scholarly in nature and contribute new knowledge to a particular field of study
Both capstone and thesis serve as the final projects of an academic course. They require a long-term commitment as students will have to spend a lot of time on their research. When done successfully, they can serve as the basis of a student’s professional portfolio.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is a Capstone – Definition, Features 2. What is a Thesis – Definition, Features 3. Difference Between Capstone and Thesis – Comparison of Key Differences
What is a Capstone
A capstone is a multilayered project that serves as a culminating academic experience for students, typically at the end of an academic program. Moreover, a capstone project may take many forms. In such projects, students select a topic or social problem that interests them, conduct research on that subject, record the results or findings, create a final product, showcasing their conclusions, as well as their learning acquisition. The final product can take many forms, such as papers, multimedia presentations, and short films. Students may also have to do an oral presentation on the project in front of a panel of teachers and experts who will evaluate the quality of the project.
Capstone projects encourage students to think critically and face challenges. They can also develop skills such as research skills, media literacy, teamwork, planning, goal setting, oral communication, public speaking, and self-sufficiency. These skills will help students in their careers as well as adult life. Furthermore, these projects tend to be interdisciplinary, i.e., students have to use various skills and research issues across many different domains of knowledge.
What is a Thesis
A thesis or dissertation is a long research paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree. Submitting a thesis is generally required for completing undergraduate honours, masters , and doctoral degrees . The theses are very long and may contain hundreds of pages. They are also scholarly in nature and allows students to contribute valuable research in their field of study.
Moreover, a major part of a thesis work involves research and writing. It generally has advanced research design and analysis. When writing a thesis, the students will have to prove or disapprove a hypothesis , and their conclusions have to be backed by extensive research and an insightful, learned description of how they got to that conclusion. In some degree programs, students also have to perform an oral defence of the thesis paper in front of a panel of experts.
Parts of a Thesis
These are the components you will usually find in a thesis paper.
- Title Page
- Table of Contents
- List of Figures
- List of Tables
Difference Between Capstone and Thesis
A capstone is a multilayered project that serves as a culminating academic experience for students, typically at the end of an academic program, whereas a thesis is a long research paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree.
A thesis is more scholarly in nature than a capstone project.
Level of Education
Capstone projects can be done by high school students, college students, etc., whereas theses are required in higher levels of academia, usually in undergraduate honours degrees, masters, or doctorate levels.
In a capstone project, the final product can take many forms, for example, paper, multimedia presentation, short film, etc. However, in a thesis, the final product is always a paper.
A capstone is a multilayered project that serves as a culminating academic experience for students, typically at the end of an academic program, whereas a thesis is a long research paper that typically serves as the final project for a university degree. Moreover, a thesis is more scholarly in nature than a capstone project. Therefore, this is is the main difference between capstone and thesis.
1. Stute, Martin. “ How to Write Your Thesis .” How to Write a Thesis. 2. “ Capstone Project Definition .” The Glossary of Education Reform, 23 Mar. 2016.
1. “910524” (CC0) via Pxhere 2. “thesis” By Vectors Point, PK (CC0) via TheNounProject
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What is the difference between a dissertation, a thesis and a capstone project?
A former student and I were talking recently, and she mentioned the thesis she completed as part of her Master of Education degree at our university.
“I’m going to stop you right there,” I said. “You didn’t do a thesis. You did a capstone project.”
“What’s the difference?” she asked.
It is a common question among students. Students also ask what the difference is between a dissertation and a thesis. Three things they all have in common are:
- Completed in partial fulfillment of an academic degree.
- Intended to showcase the student’s knowledge on a particular topic.
- Approved in some way by the institution that grants the degree.
But that’s about where the commonalities end. Here are some of the differences:
This is usually completed as part of a doctoral degree. The work is overseen by a professor, who is often call the advisor or the supervisor. Often, there is a committee that also supports the work. Students are often required to pass a rigorous exam upon completion of their dissertation. Then, the examiners can make suggestions for further revisions based on their review of the work and the outcome of the exam. A doctoral dissertation is often a few hundred pages long. When it is completed and approved in its final version by all the examiners, it may become publicly available through the university library digital repository or another public database. Sometimes people use the term “thesis” when they really mean “dissertation”. The reason for this may be that the word “thesis” is shorter to say.
This is usually completed as part of a research-based master’s degree or an undergraduate honours degree. The length may vary, depending on whether it is completed for the undergraduate or master’s level, but often they are about a hundred pages. The work is overseen by a professor, who is often called the advisor or the supervisor. Upon completion of their thesis, students must often pass a rigorous exam. The examiners can make suggestions for further revisions based on their review of the work and the outcome of the exam. When it is completed and approved in its final version by all the examiners, it may become publicly available through the university library or another public database.
Dissertations and theses often have many elements in common such as being supervised by a professor and requiring an exam to pass. Capstone projects, on the other hand, are a bit different.
This is a project completed as part of a course-based master’s degree. It is often overseen or guided by a course instructor. Sometimes students present their work in some way, but the capstone does not usually require an examination to pass. The length and format of a capstone project can vary and some are presented as multimedia projects instead of a written report. These kinds of projects can go by different names. At our university we call them a “Collaboratory of Practice” project, but the general idea is the same.
Here’s a handy infographic to highlight some of the key ideas.
It is important to remember that these are simplified definitions to help you understand the basic differences only. When you talk about your own academic work, it is important to represent yourself accurately. You want to learn the correct term to talk about the work you have completed as part of your degree.
These explanations may not apply to every institution. If you are not sure, talk to a faculty member from your own university to get more details about how things work at your institution.
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.
Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.
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Q: What is the difference between a capstone and portfolio project?
A: The overall goal of the capstone program is to help students discover and develop new and effective ways of communicating, managing, and working with all stakeholders in the healthcare field. The capstone helps trainees to develop the contextual awareness, integrative management, and industry technical skills that are needed to lead and affect change in a rapidly expanding healthcare sector.
This capstone puts you in a new organization, with a group of fellow graduate trainees, so that you get hands-on training and experience in a multitude of environments as a part of your graduate training. The technical and soft skills learned during the capstone, in addition to the coursework in the degree program, will help you advance to the next stages of your career.
The portfolio project follows the same format as the capstone and is good preparation for those individuals who wish to pursue a doctoral degree after completion of the masters. Instead of being part of a group of students, allowing you to choose a specific role, such as student project manager, student client liaison, or student analyst, a student pursuing a portfolio would be expected to perform all of these tasks themselves. Portfolios often follow a more traditional thesis like approach, and often culminate in a publication, which is good preparation if the student wishes to pursue training at the doctoral level or segue into academic research.
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What is a capstone project? And why is it important?
By Stephanie L
Sponsored by York University
What is a capstone project?
The capstone project has become an integral part of the university degree curriculum. It can take many various forms, but its purpose remains the same. The capstone project is a unique opportunity to carry out independent group research in order to devise an innovative solution for a real-world problem. While a project of this scope and scale can be challenging, it can also be very rewarding.
The capstone project is usually the final assignment and plays a vital role in preparing students for the world of work thanks to its practical applications and ability to help hone students’ professional knowledge and skills.
At York University in Toronto, Canada, things are a little different. In 2019, the university revised the traditional capstone project and created C4: Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom . While it still possesses the fundamentals of the traditional capstone project, C4 is a new, year-long initiative that brings students together from various degree programmes to work in interdisciplinary teams with faculty and project partners on real-world challenges pitched by non-profit organisations, start-ups and businesses to create social impact.
TopUniversities spoke to Megan Tran and Javeria Mirza, two students at York University, to find out about their capstone project and why they feel it has played an important role in not just their academic development, but their professional development as well.
What is the Purpose of a Capstone Project?
1. it prepares you for the working world.
The capstone project is designed to consolidate final-year students’ learning with valuable hands-on experience to help develop them into well-prepared and well-rounded graduates.
Students work together in small groups to come up with innovative solutions for real-life problems, all while gaining valuable insights into the demands and responsibilities of the working world. This gives students a chance to bring their leadership and management skills alive and understand the consequences of their decisions in a ‘safe space’.
C4 gives students an insight into global affairs, international relations as well as social corporate responsibility and sustainability.
Final-year bachelor’s in international studies student Megan and master’s in political science student Javeria were two of the eight interdisciplinary students, from the Faculty of Environmental Studies, the Lassonde School of Engineering, Glendon College, and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York University who worked together on the ‘Solar Floatie’ project.
“As a group, we were all interested in using technology and design-thinking for good. Our collective passion for social impact brought us together as a team. CooperLab at York University led by Professor Thomas Cooper was already spearheading the idea of an inflatable solar collector,” said Javeria.
“But how we went about developing the technology and what we wanted to use it for was up to us,” added Megan.
“ The Solar Floatie was born when the engineering side of the solar collector project was merged with the anthropology side and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework to propose a sustainable implementation model,” explained Javeria.
2. It helps build your CV and help you stand out as a candidate
Undertaking a capstone project demonstrates to prospective employers that you’re more than just a potential candidate with the necessary academic qualifications. It shows your dedication to an issue which demands time and effort, as well as strict professionalism, work ethic and experience working in a practical, hands-on setting.
3. It offers valuable practical experience – something many graduates do not have
As a graduate, the reality of securing a job can be difficult as many roles demand practical experience. Many graduates are conceptually strong and suitable candidates, but a lack of applied knowledge in practical settings can make it challenging to demonstrate such experience and skills on their CV or in an interview.
The capstone project is a great solution and is something which both Megan and Javeria felt helped bridge that critical gap and has given them a competitive advantage as young professionals.
“It gave me an opportunity to learn outside a traditional academic setting and allowed me to explore my interest in sustainability and passion for social impact,” said Megan. “Since being a part of this project, I’ve been involved with a variety of organisations carrying out work that align with these passions.”
Javeria echoes Megan’s sentiments.
She said: “Bridging the lessons learnt during the capstone project such as the value of continuously learning, taking initiative, and working effectively with people from diverse disciplinary backgrounds has been invaluable in both my UN work and my graduate studies.”
4. It hones on specific skills that are highly valued by employers
The capstone project encompasses a real-life working culture which aims to instil a set of specific skills that are both highly valued by employers and will ultimately serve students well into their careers.
York University’s C4 focuses on the development of a wide range of skills, including creative, critical, and strategic thinking, effective communication, teamwork, problem solving and research analysis through diverse learning approaches and perspectives. Students deepen their sense of social and ethical responsibilities as they learn to mobilise their knowledge across disciplines and work effectively in interdisciplinary teams while engaging professionally with their peers and professors.
Lead image: Solar Floatie project team members work on assembling the solar energy collector, under Professor Thomas Cooper’s direction. Credit: York University
This article was originally published in March 2021 . It was last updated in December 2022
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As the Head of Sponsored Content for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com (until September 2021), Stephanie created and published a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.
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A capstone course is a class designed for a student in college or graduate school to demonstrate mastery of a particular subject. Capstone courses have many different structures and vary among universities and departments.
Project evaluation refers to the systematic investigation of an object’s worth or merit. The methodology is applied in projects, programs and policies. Evaluation is important to assess the worth or merit of a project and to identify areas ...
There are seven steps to an investigatory project: ask a question, conduct the research, form a hypothesis, design an experiment, analyze the results, draw a conclusion and communicate the results. The steps to an investigatory project are ...
An. MS capstone course is worth 3 credits. The three capstone options are: CSEC 790 MS Thesis - This course is a capstone course in the MS in Computing Security
The capstone, also known as the capstone course or capstone project, comes at the conclusion of your bachelor's degree or master's degree
The main difference between a capstone project and a thesis is that a capstone project addresses a specific problem, issue or concern in your field of study
A capstone project is mainly a two-semester project that is conducted in the final year of graduation, where students are supposed to independently or
The following table illustrates some of the differences between a thesis and a capstone project. Thesis. Capstone. Primary. Mentor. Graduate Faculty member at
The main difference between a capstone project and a Research is that a capstone project addresses a specific problem, issue or concern in your field of
A capstone is a multilayered project that serves as a culminating academic experience for students, typically at the end of an academic program
Dissertations and theses often have many elements in common such as being supervised by a professor and requiring an exam to pass. Capstone
Q: What is the difference between a capstone and portfolio project? A: The overall goal of the capstone program is to help students discover and develop new and
The capstone project encompasses a real-life working culture which aims to instil a set of specific skills that are both highly valued by employers and will
A project involves curriculum or program development and applies theory to practice, while a thesis is a traditional research capstone where