MAPW Capstone Project

All students must be aware before beginning the capstone process that it is their responsibility to make sure that they follow all of the steps required by the MAPW Program and the University. 

  • Completion of 27 credit hours in the MAPW program and at least four courses in the concentration; approval of capstone committee.

  • A project designated as a thesis, portfolio or practicum and accompanied by a rationale for its purpose and design that involves electronic and/or print media and is relevant to the student’s concentration in professional writing. After submitting an approved capstone proposal, the candidate works under the direction and advice of two faculty members to produce the project. The candidate must submit the capstone project at least two weeks before either

    1. A discussion about the project with the faculty committee, or
    2. A public presentation about the project or a reading from the project for an audience of faculty and peers.

    Note: The candidate will consult with the capstone committee chair and committee member about which option to choose.

  • Students in PRWR 7960 receive a grade of “S” or “U.”

    • “S” indicates that credit has been given for satisfactory completion of degree requirements other than academic course work.
    • "U" indicates unsatisfactory performance or progress in an attempt to complete degree requirements other than academic course work.

Capstone Project TImeline

Please see below on starting and completing the capstone project in a step-by-step process.


Brainstorm Your Capstone Project Format 

  • Typically, the student should think in terms of a book, when writing a creative thesis, although the committee will not require the student to submit a completed book. Because creative writing is the most varied of the three concentrations, the length for theses in it are quite varied. The committee may or may not require a critical introduction or reflective essay as a part of these projects.

    • Creative nonfiction: The committee will require two or three chapters, up to, but no more than, 70 pages, followed by an annotated, story by story list of what will follow.
    • Novel: The committee will require two or three chapters, up to, but no more than, 100 pages maximum. The student will also include an annotated, chapter by chapter list of what will follow.
    • Novella: The committee will require up to but no more than 75 pages.
    • Short story collection: The committee will require up to, but no more than, 100 pages followed by an annotated, story by story list of what will follow.
    • Poetry: The committee will require a minimum of 60 pages of poetry, one poem to a page.
    • Plays: The committee will require a completed, two-act script of up to, but not more than, 125 pages or several one-act play of up to, but no more than, 125 pages.
    • TV scripts:
      • For a one-hour script (typically a drama), the committee will require a completed script up to 60 pages plus a beat sheet or story outline.
      • For a half-hour, single camera TV script, the committee will require two completed scripts of 30 to 40 pages each, plus beat sheets or story outlines for each.
      • For a half-hour, multi-camera script (typically a sitcom), the committee will require two completed scripts of 40 to 50 pages each, plus beat sheets or story outlines for each.
    • Feature film script: The committee will require a completed script of 90 to 125 pages, with a beat sheet or story outline.
    • Interactive storytelling or new media genres: The project length should be negotiated with the committee.
  • The research thesis will probably be the capstone of choice by students concentrating in Composition and Rhetoric and perhaps by students concentrating in Applied Writing. It will demonstrate a student's ability to carry out independent research in the student's concentration and to contribute to the knowledge in the field.  

    The student should select a research topic and discuss it thoroughly with his or her committee during the proposal process, taking into consideration the following:

    • student's background and interest,
    • ability to handle the problem,
    • accessibility of research materials, and
    • the probable significance of the project to the professional community for which it is intended.

    The research thesis must begin with an introductory essay that contextualizes the project for its readers.

    The total length of the research thesis may vary depending on the field and genre in which the writer is working. The final length should result from consultation with the student's thesis committee, as this committee will ultimately approve or reject the project. For students whose concentration is Composition and Rhetoric and Applied Writing, the research thesis should be a minimum of 50 pages. For students working in interactive nonfiction and new media genres, the project length should be negotiated with the committee.

    Note: Students are required to follow the procedures established by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for all research involving human participants. 

  • A portfolio is a compilation of a student’s best work that includes self-assessment and reflection and that is gathered according to some plan or argument for use by an identified reader or readers for specific needs or purposes. A portfolio may be used to demonstrate a student’s writing competence or versatility.

    In addition to assembling the portfolio and revising the pieces to be included, the student may be required to write an introductory essay in which he/she reflects on his/her relation to the MAPW course work and make an argument about some aspect of professional writing.

    The student will also write intertexts or interchapters that will reinforce the thread and progress of the argument that holds the portfolio together. In addition, students may include an assessment of a piece of writing rather than a revision. The portfolio may include work that has been accepted for publication while the writer has been a student in the MAPW program.

    It should be kept in mind that the portfolio is a substantive project and should reflect the highest quality of writing the student has produced. Ideally, a student finishing the portfolio will have several pieces that may be submitted for publication and/or that may be used to provide evidence of the student’s expertise in professional writing to prospective employers. 

  • The practicum must be a writing project that demonstrates the student’s expertise in developing an actual workplace document or text, such as a company’s or organization’s website, a corporate intranet website or electronic training module, or a consulting project, such as the editing of a major work or design of a website. For such projects, the student must contract with a client—who may be the employer—to deliver a document or set of documents for use by the client. Obtaining the client’s permission is necessary as the document(s) may be published as content in the student’s final practicum, either in part or in whole.

    The practicum must begin with an introductory essay that explains the rationale and purpose of its design. Moreover, in reflecting on the success of the project, the student will want to discuss the client-student relationship in the development of the project.  For projects such as a website, the capstone committee will also require a chapter of a minimum of 25 pages that reveals the student’s research and technical practice and the relationship of each to the rhetorical choices the student made during the creation of the project. 

  • Students are required to follow the procedures established by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for all research and projects involving human participants. Read the IRB Application Submission Instructions here.

  • Go to KSU Digital Commons here to access submitted capstone projects. Please note that some capstone projects may not be available for access.

writing illustration

Capstone Proposal Process

  • Drafting your capstone proposal is recommended before forming your committee.

    The proposal must include the following:

    • Detailed statement of the rationale for the capstone project;
    • List of the parts of the project (including the introductory essay);
    • Plan for the revision and/or production of the parts of the project;
    • Detailed timeline for the completion of the parts of the project, which will include the dates when the student will give committee members work and the dates when faculty will return the student's work  with comments;
    • Detailed plan for how the student will get advice from committee members and for how the student will respond to that advice (i.e., face-to-face, via email, etc.); and
    • Cover sheet.

    Note: Your committee members may want you to revise portions or perhaps even rewrite the whole proposal before signing it.

  • Faculty who have been your instructors and who will, consequently, know you and your work are much more likely to be willing to work with you than those who don't know you at all. It is composed of two members of the MAPW faculty. Preferably, both members, but at least one member, must teach in your concentration. The faculty who have agreed to be on capstone committees are responsible for advising the student in terms of:

    • drafting, completing, and filing the Capstone Proposal before the last day of classes in the semester before the student enrolls in PRWR 7960: MAPW Capstone Project;
    • suggesting and discussing the capstone's focus and format;
    • suggesting and discussing the introductory essays’ focus, shape, and content;
    • suggesting a reading list or avenue of research, if needed;
    • arranging and/or approving a timeline for the student's completion of research, documents, or media presentations; and
    • reviewing and amending the schedule of tasks and the timeline and monitoring the schedule and timeline, taking into account the official incomplete policy in the Graduate Catalog.

    Faculty who have agreed to be on capstone committees are also responsible for facilitating the completion of the capstone by:

    • reading drafts of documents, annotating the drafts with suggestions or corrections, and suggesting revision in the writing;
    • conferencing with the student in terms of specific tasks in the timeline for completing the capstone;
    • conferencing with the student regarding theoretical issues and/or readings attendant to the capstone;
    • reading and approving the final draft of the capstone; 
    • advising about and approving the public presentation of the capstone; and
    • signing and distributing all attendant documents on time. 

    It is strongly recommended to select your capstone committee in place at least at the beginning of the semester you plan to submit your capstone proposal (see table below). 

  • Once your committee approves your proposal, complete the Capstone Project Proposal Cover Sheet and attach the proposal (see button below) before or on the last day of class of the semester before the one in which you plan on beginning your capstone project.

    Submit Capstone Proposal and Cover Sheet Here
  • After you've submitted the proposal, the Program Coordinator will enter an override for you so that you may enroll in PRWR 7960: MAPW Capstone Project. The capstone class will always be listed as closed, and you have to register this way with the overrides in place.  

    You must enroll in PRWR 7960 each semester during which you're working on the capstone and enter three (3) or six (6) credit hours. 

  • Complete and submit your petition to graduate through Owl Express. See the petition process here.

Capstone Committee & Capstone Proposal Deadlines

Capstone Committees are strongly recommended to be selected no later than the beginning of the semester you plan to submit your capstone proposal. Capstone Proposals must be submitted before or on the last day of class of the semester before the one in which you plan on beginning your capstone project. See table below for details.

  • Fall 2024
    Spring 2025
  • Capstone Committee Selection: January 12, 2024

    Capstone Proposal Submission Deadline: April 29, 2024

    Capstone Committee Selection: August 16, 2024

    Capstone Proposal Submission Deadline: December 2, 2024

Dates are subject to change. Refer to the Academic Calendar for updates.

shaking hands

Capstone Project Guidelines

  • All work by students on capstones must be original.

  • All capstones will be a thesis, unless the student’s committee decides otherwise, and this should be thoroughly discussed with the committee members.

    • Given the unique qualities of the capstone, the committee may decide that the student should do a portfolio or a practicum instead of a thesis.
  • Each student is responsible for adhering to the formatting requirements. Any deviation from the requirements must be reviewed and approved by the student’s capstone committee.

    Students are required to submit a capstone project free of stylistic, mechanical, grammatical, and formatting errors, and it is their responsibility to ensure this.

  • The capstone project should be prepared according to the requirements in the latest edition of the style manual appropriate to the fields of professional writing in which the student is writing (e.g. MLA, APA, Chicago). If the project is made up of separate pieces of writing from a variety of genres, a variety of styles may be followed. However, if points of difference arise, the statements in this document take precedence. 

  • The arrangement of the manuscript is determined by your committee, and may or may not include all of the noted materials.

    1. Title page (see sample of a capstone title page here)
    2. Table of Contents 
    3. Introductory essay (if required by the student’s capstone committee)
      1. that provides background information on the contents of the capstone project that will contribute to an informed reading of it;
      2. that contains discussions of theories, processes, and or practical skills which the student  has learned and the effect on the creation of the works;
      3. in which the student may formulate an artistic statement; may write a narrative of his or her development as a writer up to this point;
      4. or may discuss a combination of these or related subjects;
    4. Text of the capstone project; and
    5. Curriculum vitae (CV), biography, or résumé that
      1. doesn't exceed three pages; and
      2. highlights the student's achievements in a field or fields of professional writing, including previous education in professional writing, attendance at workshops or professional conventions, prizes and awards, a list of publications, and paid or volunteer employment in the field of professional writing. 

    NOTE: Students may add an optional acknowledgment page between pages 2 and 3 on which they may make a brief statement of gratitude for special assistance.

  • Margins

    • Each page must have a margin of 1.5" on the left and at least 1" on the other three sides.
    • On the first page of every major division (e.g., chapter, table of contents, references, etc.), a 2" margin is required at the top.  
    • All tables and figures must conform to the margin requirements (photographic reproduction—with enlargement or reduction—may be necessary).  
    • A subhead at the bottom of the page must have at least two full lines of type below it, or it should begin on the next page. 

    Page Numbering

    Beginning with the title page, every page is assigned a number. The preliminaries are numbered in lower-case Roman numerals placed without punctuation in the center of the page at least 3/4" (5 lines) from the bottom of the page. The title page and the certificate of approval are considered to be pages i and ii, but numbers are not typed on them.

    Text and reference pages are numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals beginning with 1 on the first page of the text. The numbers are placed without punctuation in the upper right corner 1 inch form the right and at least 3/4" (5 lines) from the top of the page. All pages of the text and reference material, including appendices, references, and cover sheets (if used) are counted and numbered. 

    Spacing, Font, and Length

    • The general text of the capstone project is double-spaced and in a 12-point font, such as Times New Roman.
    • The required page length, which varies depending on the type of capstone, does not include front or back matter. 
    • Single spacing is used for long tables, itemized or tabular material, footnotes, multi-line captions. Long quotations and reference entries should be spaced following the style used throughout the project (e.g. APA, Chicago, MLA).
    • Photographs can be printed from the negatives on 8.5" x 11" photographic paper to eliminate the problems involved in attaching photographs to thesis paper. Charts, maps, drawings, etc., may be photographed on 8.5" x 11" photographic paper.
    • If illustrations are mounted, dry mounting or permanent paper cement (dried under weight) may be used. Do not mount with rubber cement, glue, photo-mounting corners, tape, or staples.
    • Use of oversized material should be avoided. If a folded page must be used, the folded edge should be at least 1/4" from the right edge of the manuscript to avoid cutting at the bindery. The page number should appear in the upper right hand corner of the folded page in alignment with the pagination in the text.
    • Large materials may be folded and inserted in a pocket in the appendices. 

Capstone Completion Process

  • The Capstone Showcase gives MAPW students the opportunity to present their capstone project with their peers, KSU faculty and administration, and their friends and family. Although optional, it is highly encouraged for students completing the capstone to present at the showcase. See past showcase programming here.
  • Once students have completed writing the capstone and have revised it to the satisfaction of the committee, they will plan with the committee either an oral “defense” or a public reading. Both the oral defense and the public reading must be completed by the last day of class.

    Oral Defense

    The committee will probably advise students who have completed a research thesis, a portfolio, or a practicum to take part in an oral “defense.” This option has been mislabeled, and it is actually a question-and-answer session between the student and his/her committee members. The student may invite loved ones, family, and friends to the defense, which will probably be scheduled on-campus.

    Public Defense

    Students in the creative writing concentration may wish to give a public reading of their work, although they may decide to take part in an oral defense instead. If they decide on a public reading, they will find an appropriate venue on- or off-campus. 

  • In addition to MAPW capstone submission deadlines, the IRB needs to review your project and will take more time depending on the type of IRB Review (see below):

    • Exempt or Expedited Reviews: Allow 14 business days for a complete review.
    • Full-Board Reviews: Submissions must be received at least one (1) month before the next IRB meeting (see IRB meeting schedule here).

    Go to the IRB website for more details. 

  • At the end of the oral defense or public reading, the student will have both members of his/her committee sign the “Notice of Capstone Completion” form (see below).  

    Once the capstone is finished, submit the forms below by the last day of classes in the semester in which you complete your capstone.

  • After completing all the requirements of the capstone, each student must submit an electronic copy of their capstone to the Digital Commons no later than the last day of class of the semester in their graduating semester. Please see here on submission guidelines.

    Submit Your Capstone Project to Digital Commons Here

Capstone Completion Deadlines

Capstone defenses and completion paperwork (see section above) must be completed by the last day of class in the semester you plan to finish your project. See upcoming dates below:

  • Summer 2024
    Fall 2024
    Spring 2025
  • July 23, 2024
    December 2, 2024
    April 28, 2025