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School of Public Health
MPH Program in Health Services

Health Systems and Policy Capstone Project

HSP Concentration

Most HSP students elect to substitute a Capstone Project for the traditional thesis.

A Capstone is a scholarly project usually conducted for or on behalf of an organization, constituency, or community.

The Capstone Project allows students to expand and apply their analytical, policy, and leadership skills by exploring a question of policy importance. The Capstone might take the form of an evaluation of the implementation of a piece of legislation or public program, the synthesis of existing data to inform the development of a policy agenda, the collection of new information that changes our understanding of a policy problem, or an analysis of the options available to address a specific policy question.

The Capstone Project's broad goals are to:

  • contribute to solving a policy problem
  • develop advanced analytical and problem-solving skills
  • gain experience with the policy development or advocacy process and the role of various stakeholders in that process
  • develop specialized knowledge in an area related to policy or system performance

Planning for the Capstone Project may begin in the first year of the program, and normally students conduct the research part of the project during the summer or autumn quarter of the second year. Over the course of the 9 (or more) credits of the Capstone, students should expect to invest at least 180 hours in the project. Guidance will be provided by both faculty and community partners.

The Capstone Project is supervised by a committee of at least two faculty members chosen by the student. Usually, the student first selects a committee chairperson who will act as her/his primary capstone advisor. This person should be someone with whom the student feels comfortable and who has expertise in the chosen subject or methods. The chairperson is usually one of the Health Systems and Policy faculty, but the main requirements are that they have an appointment in a department in the School of Public Health and are a member of the UW Graduate Faculty.