School of Health Sciences

Policies and Procedures: Capstone Projects

The capstone project is one of two options students can select for the culminating experience in the Master of Science in Health Sciences. The capstone project provides an alternative for those students who prefer to present their culminating experience in a format other than the thesis format required by the College of Graduate Studies.

Projects may be focused on production of manuscripts for submission for publication, curriculum guides, instructional materials, websites, program proposals or evaluations, meta-analyses of the literature, or other concerns relevant to the student. However, all projects must include some element of evaluation or assessment (either qualitative or quantitative).

The project form is available online.

To undertake a project, students should take the following steps:

1. Develop a proposal

Ideally, this will be accomplished during Seminar (HSC 504). All proposals MUST include:

    1. A review of literature
    2. A statement of the problem or purpose of the project
    3. A statement of the importance/implications of the project
    4. A research or evaluation component

2. Identify a project advisor and two readers

The advisor and readers should be identified WHILE the proposal is in preparation, so they can assist with project development. The advisor is the primary contact for students during the project process; readers will approve the project, read at least one draft of the final project prior to the final manuscript/product, and will serve as resources during project implementation. The project advisor must be a graduate faculty member of the School of Health Sciences. Readers must be graduate faculty members of Cleveland State University. The advisor and at least two other committee members must be voting members of the Graduate Faculty in order for the project/thesis to be accepted by the College of Graduate Studies.

3. Submit a project form

Prior to actual implementation of the project, student should submit the attaché form to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

4. Obtain IRB approval


5. Undertake the project

Students should work closely with their advisors, and should check in regularly with project readers.

6. Submit the final project outcomes

  1. A written report of the project that must include:
    1. a comprehensive, well integrated review of the relevant literature
    2. a problem or outcome statement that specifies the goal of the project
    3. a description of the process by which the project was undertaken
    4. some element of research-based (quantitative or qualitative) evaluation, either as the specific goal of the project, or as an evaluation of the goal of the project.

b. If there is another product in addition to the final report (e.g. the video, website, etc.) this must be submitted along with the written report.


The following are guidelines for the formatting of the written document that should be provided for the Department upon completion of the MSHS Project:

1. The document should be bound with a clear front cover and a dark blue back cover.  The binding should be thin spiral and can be done at Kinko’s or other copy centers.  At a minimum one copy of the completed project must be submitted to be stored in HS 101 for Department use.  Consult your advisor as to whether copies for the advisor and committee members should also be provided.

2. The format of the project is flexible.  In other words some projects may be in the form of a manuscript, others may resemble a thesis, others may be in the form of a report.  Consult closely with your advisor regarding the format of the document.  Regardless of the format that is recommended by the advisor, the following components should be included to keep the projects relatively similar.

    1. AMA or APA style for referencing is preferred unless the targeted publication for a manuscript requires a different style
    2. Margins should be set at 1 ½ inch for the left margin and 1 inch for all other margins unless the targeted publication specifies otherwise.  This is to allow for the binding process
    3. The following components should be included in the document
      1. Title page including the School of Health Sciences, Cleveland State University, title of project, names of students, names of advisor and reader, and month/year of completion
      2. Acknowledgements page that expresses appreciation to any individuals, agencies, or groups that supported the project
      3. Abstract Page – This should not exceed a 250-word description of the project.  A suggested format is:
        1. Introduction, Purpose, or Problem Statement
        2. Background
        3. Methods
        4. Results
        5. Discussion

Not all projects would require an abstract page, or formatting as suggested above.  Consult your advisor about whether an abstract page will be required, and if so, in what format

      1. Table of Contents – This should include acknowledgement, abstract, list of tables, list of figures, all major and secondary headings of the body of the paper, references, bibliography, and appendices with appropriate page numbers for each element of the paper.
      2. List of Tables - This should include any tables included in the paper starting with Table 1, and the page number where each table can be found.
      3. List of Figures – This should include any figures included in the paper starting with Figure 1, and the page number where each figure can be found.
      4. Body of Paper - Consult your advisor for how the body of the paper should be organized.  A suggested order for research projects is listed below
        1. Introduction, Problem Statement, or Purpose
        2. Background or Literature Review
        3. Methods
        4. Results
        5. Discussion
        6. Limitations, Conclusions, and/or Areas for Further Study
      5. References - This includes an appropriately cited (using the style recommended by the advisor) list of citations that actually appear in the paper
      6. Bibliography – this optional section includes citations that were perhaps relevant to the project, but not directly cited in the paper
      7. Appendices - This section can include the IRB approval forms, documents such as survey instruments, raw data (if essential to understanding the results or discussion), informed consent forms, or other documents that are important to include should someone want to replicate the study.  It is not mandatory to include an appendix section if there are no documents relevant to the project that needs to be included.
      8. Pagination.  The first page of the project should begin with Arabic number 1.  The    title page should not include a page number, but the acknowledgements, abstract, table of contents, and list of tables or figures should be numbered using Roman numerals starting with page ii for the acknowledgements, and ending with the list of figures.  All page numbers should be centered on the bottom of the page.