The Capstone Project

The capstone project is a key element of the Master of Health and the Public Interest program, as it provides valuable work experience and opportunities for jobs after graduation. Capstone research projects (3 credits) are typically conducted over the summer. The Capstone can be arranged through the participating faculty or can also be arranged independently by the student (with approval by faculty and co-monitoring of the project by our core faculty). Options for Capstone projects include working on a research study or health services project with a Georgetown or outside mentor, or working with an advocacy group, NGO, state or federal agency, international health organization, or social science or epidemiological research program.

The capstone can be an internship, a lab experience, or a mentored, independent study project. Most students working with a researcher will participate in ongoing faculty-driven research. Some will complete an independent project, focusing on projects that can be completed during this period of time (e.g., a re-analysis of existing or publicly available data, or an analysis of publicly observable behavior or health messages that would not require IRB approval).

Besides the voluntary poster session near the end of the program, students write weekly blog posts on their experiences, and cross-comment on the posts of their classmates. This requirement fosters both cooperation and community among students who may be in far-flung places and positions. Faculty also monitor and comment on blog posts, and are available to consult with students if there are any issues during the capstone, including the correct application of skills from coursework.

The objectives for the Capstone project are:

  • Developing practical skills. This objective may be accomplished through immersive involvement with a research team; an internship with a government agency or a non-governmental organization, or through a closely monitored independent investigative project.
  • Integrating knowledge gained in the program into a workplace environment.
  • Honing writing and communication skills. Students will be required to write a final report of their experiences and will be provided an opportunity to present their experiences to the program.

The Capstone is a key element of the program, as the project provide valuable work experience and opportunities for jobs after graduation; additionally, contacts with the program faculty and staff increase awareness of the program and receptivity to hiring graduates of the program among employers. The program faculty has developed a broad-based set of potential experiences for students, reflecting the integrated nature of the studies. Capstone projects are meant to provide practical work experience in office, field, or research settings, where students can apply theory to real-world problems.

Research opportunities abound at Georgetown and elsewhere, and we can place Capstone students in meaningful research-based internships. We have many options for Capstone projects at Georgetown, including a variety of social science approaches, including psychology, sociology, and anthropology. For example, Dr. Yulia Chentsova has a project examining students’ sense of belonging and wellbeing, comparing minority and majority students from a variety of backgrounds. Dr. Fugh-Berman has a project that examines linguistic differences between industry-funded and non-industry-funded clinical trials and another that examines prescribers’ beliefs about therapeutic choices.

The capstone research project may be done at Georgetown or elsewhere, but requires a Georgetown sponsor; for capstones performed outside of Georgetown, students will have both an external and Georgetown advisor. Independent research projects are possible if approved by the program directors.

Capstone projects are evaluated through an assessment by the primary mentor. This assessment is based on progress reports and a final report. For students working primarily with a non-Georgetown mentor, there will be an assessment by the assigned Georgetown mentor. At the end of the Capstone, the external faculty will evaluate the student and the student will evaluate the experience. A paper or report, graded by the Georgetown advisor, will be required. The final grade for the Capstone will be given by the faculty committee, taking the paper or report and the external advisor’s evaluation form into consideration.

External Capstone proposals, mentors, and sites will be evaluated by a faculty committee. Criteria for external mentors will include research experience and experience with mentoring students. The initial faculty committee will be Drs. Fugh-Berman, and Myers.

Degree Requirements and  Course Descriptions can be found on the links at the top left of this page. Past student capstones can be found here.