What is the Capstone Research Requirement?

  • The Capstone Requirement is required of all majors for graduation.  
  • A capstone is a 400-level research seminar or independent study within which students write a 20+ original research paper.
  • The purpose is to make sure all majors have the opportunity for a sustained and in-depth experience of independent, primary research.  
  • The capstone requirement can only be fulfilled in one of the last three semesters before graduation.

How to FulFill the Capstone Requirement 

  • By taking any 400-level STSC (or HSOC) course. These courses all include writing a 20+ page paper of independent research as a course requirement.


  • By completing a 400-level independent study (STSC 499)  that produces an independent research project of at least 20 pages or an equivalent project, approved by the HSOC Director or Associate Director, in addition to doing the amount of reading required at the 400-level. See the independent study page for additional details


  • Only a 400-level course or independent study (499) taken in the last three semesters before graduation fulfills the Capstone requirement. 
  • 400-level courses taken earlier may not be used as the capstone. Students may take as many 400-level HSOC or STSC courses in the department as they wish, but only a 400-level course taken during one of the three last semesters before graduation fulfills the Capstone Research Course Requirement.  
  • You cannot double-count the Capstone course within the major as a core, department or concentration course. The Capstone Research Course requirement is a distinct part of the major, separate from other requirements, and the course cannot fulfill any other requirement for the major at the same time.
  • The Capstone paper – a 20+ page research paper - must be completed to this standard and receive a grade of at least C- to receive capstone credit.
  • The Capstone project is not the same as a "senior thesis" - please see the Senior Thesis page to understand the difference between the capstone requirement and a senior honors thesis.  
  • STSC 400 (taken in preparation for a senior thesis) fulfills the capstone requirement in the STSC major.