The main difference between a capstone project and a thesis is that a capstone project addresses a specific problem, issue or concern in your field of study, and a thesis attempts to create new knowledge. A **capstone project focuses on a narrow, specific topic**, whereas a **thesis addresses a broader, generalized issue**.
Capstone Project: Coursework Application
A capstone project tests your understanding of core concepts in your field of study and requires you to apply them to current situations. For example, a capstone project might require you to produce a solution to a [business or scientific problem](http://csb.uncw.edu/mscsis/docs/Guidelines.pdf). Capstone projects don't require original research, but you must perform background analysis, conduct library research, examine similar projects and review best practices, according to the University of North Carolina. **Capstone projects may be completed individually or in small groups**. Some undergraduate and graduate programs require students to complete capstone projects to graduate. Consult your adviser about specific capstone requirements.
Capstone Project: Select a Narrow Topic
Choose a narrow topic for a capstone project, for which you can provide [expertise and a comprehensive analysis](http://beboulderanywhere.colorado.edu/itp/sites/default/files/attachments/itp/ITPThesis-v-Capstone.pdf). For example, your capstone project might address how a lack of protein affects elementary students' classroom learning or why some consumers are more likely to buy impulsively. In some cases, a capstone project deals with a specific company that's trying to improve productivity or solve a workplace concern. **Most capstone projects require a written paper of approximately 15 to 25 pages,** according to the University of Colorado. Your adviser may require you to present your project in public and complete a self-reflective evaluation.
Thesis Paper: Create and Prove or Disprove a Hypothesis
A thesis paper differs from a capstone project because you must create new knowledge by [developing a hypothesis](https://catalyst.uw.edu/workspace/file/download/abfab67ca7da6fd1c8664a9c460c492c75923ef643f3ec8805271f8dafe400cc?html=1&url;=https://catalyst.uw.edu/workspace/file/download/abfab67ca7da6fd1c8664a9c460c492c75923ef643f3ec8805271f8dafe400cc), conducting data analysis, assessing your results, drawing conclusions from your research and comparing your results to others. "A thesis paper feels more like the scientific method than a field project," according to the University of Wisconsin. **You must work independently on a thesis instead of doing group projects**. Thesis papers are generally reserved for graduate students.
Thesis Paper: Professional Considerations
A thesis paper is beneficial to students who plan to enter a [Ph.D. program](http://beboulderanywhere.colorado.edu/itp/sites/default/files/attachments/itp/ITPThesis-v-Capstone.pdf) or conduct individual research related to their postgraduate studies or long-term careers. It's more time-consuming than a capstone project and is worth more academic credit hours. **A thesis paper can be completed over several semesters, but a capstone project is generally a single-semester requirement**. Course instructors and faculty advisers grade capstone projects, but a larger thesis committee grades thesis papers.
- University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh Department of Public Administration: Capstone, Field Project or Thesis?
- University of Colorado Boulder Interdisciplinary Telecom Program: Capstone Versus Thesis
- University of North Carolina, Wilmington: MS CSIS Graduate Program Thesis/Project Guidelines
- University of Washington: What Is the Difference Between a Capstone Project and a MasterFINAL.docx
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