Capstone for the MA in Learning, Developmental and Family Sciences

All students must complete a final capstone experience in the MA in Learning, Developmental and Family Sciences, Human Development and Family Relations and Learning tracks and can choose between an applied project or thesis. Students should consult with their faculty advisor as they weigh their options for the capstone to choose the option which best matches the academic and professional goals.

Applied Project

An applied project may take the form of an action research project, an applied development project, or an applied evaluation project. The applied project allows for considerable flexibility in the type of project undertaken.

Applied Research Project

This type of applied project is specifically focused on solving, or investigating, site-specific, practical problems using the conceptual and methodological tools of the researcher. It is less formal than academic research and typically takes place within real world settings such as the workplace or classroom. For example, the researcher may wish to examine the effects of the new technologies integrated into a school or corporate training setting.

Applied Development Project

This type of applied project often involves the development of instructional materials or an instructional system, and the formative or summative evaluation of that product as it is employed with a target audience. These projects are developed to solve or resolve a particular instructional problem. For example, the student may wish to conduct an instructional analysis and then design, develop, implement, and evaluate a specific training or instructional project. Or he/she may wish to research and then create an instructional tool (such as a needs assessment or staff development instrument), test the tool, and use the results of the tool’s implementation to create a comprehensive plan that will solve a variety of instructional problems for a particular audience.

Applied Evaluation Project

This type of applied project involves the evaluation of a program. Evaluation projects seek to make a judgment concerning the merit or worth of the program being evaluated. Such programs may be school-based, industry-based, or software-based.


The thesis provides experience in conducting an empirical investigation, but provides a great deal of flexibility based on students’ interests. The investigation may be qualitative (involving interviews and observation) or quantitative (involving measured variables) or mixed-methods and should address a question of practical importance to the student. 

The student will work out a research plan with his or her faculty advisor and produce a thesis to the specifications of the Graduate School’s Style and Policy Manual for Theses and Dissertations.Please visit student services for additional information on the Master's thesis.

Registration for Capstone

To register for an individualized “special study” course such as practicum, independent study, or thesis, you will need to complete a Special Processing Form.

Students should complete the Student Section and sign it, and work with their faculty advisor, or practicum/thesis supervisor if it is not your faculty advisor, to complete the Independent Study/Thesis Completion Contract section. Essentially, this section is for students and faculty to be on the same page. It is recommended students use the questions in this section to guide their discussion with faculty.

Completed Special Processing Forms with student and faculty signatures (or a forwarded email indicating approval in lieu of a physical signature from faculty) should be submitted to the Academic Advisor via email for processing. Students will either be automatically enrolled in the course or emailed when registration information once it is available.