University Capstone Honors is the heart of the Honors Program. Capstones allow honors students to develop into highly competitive prospects for top-tier graduate schools or employers.

Beginning as early as the sophomore year, students take six upper course honors credits (via contracts, advanced consortium courses, or graduate courses). In the spring of their junior year, students develop their capstone proposal, identifying what they want to do, how they want to do it, and who they want to work with.

Students work closely with faculty mentors to develop a project worthy of a top graduate. The variety of projects ranges from creative writing to fine arts to research-based projects to service learning. What matters, though, is not the kind of project but the level of expectation: Students must demonstrate adequate knowledge or skill to carry out an advanced project, whether through a major or equivalent life learning and experience.

Projects have included:

  • Scientific research on turtles in Hawaii
  • A service learning project in Cameroon
  • A business start up plan
  • A documentary movie about Deaf survivors of Nazi Germany
  • Creative writing and other fine arts projects
  • A mathematical study on the impact of raindrop shapes on rainbow arches
  • Investigating birth outcomes among Deaf mothers

Some students find it useful and appropriate to connect their capstone with an internship experience, depending on their major.

Honors Capstone Project

As the crowning achievement in any portfolio, the Capstone Project is a vital component of students’ applications to top-tier graduate schools, law schools, and medical schools. The Honors Capstone has a unique qualitative value in the application and interview processes for life after graduation.

While the Capstone cannot replace the requirement for satisfactory test scores that many graduate or professional programs have for admission, it is a powerful element for admissions committees to consider once the test requirements have been met. Students who complete the Capstone have a concrete example of the high-level skills they possess.

Students in the 1½-year-long Honors Capstone process receive a great deal of personalized support, working with approved professors, scholars, or professionals in their major or future career to ensure the project is top-notch.

When they complete their Capstone, students are celebrated by the University. Students present their work to the campus community in a poster session, which the President and Provost attend, as do numerous faculty members and other members of the University community.

Students also receive prominent recognition at graduation, including attending a formal breakfast for students and families with the Provost and Deans on graduation morning, wearing a royal blue graduation gown, marching first among the undergraduates, and watching the Provost describe their projects during the graduation ceremony.

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