Understanding the Capstone Project

A capstone project is a culminating assignment that students work on during their final year or at the end of a program (Buzzetto-More, 2013). It usually involves a deliverable that students submit to gauge their understanding of a program. In the EdD program, a capstone project takes different forms (Online EdD Programs, 2022). Firstly, it could be in the form of a new curriculum for students, and secondly, an in-depth research paper that seeks to find solutions for an educational issue. Thirdly, it could be a new software development to address a need in the education field and a staff or teacher training plan. Mainly, such projects are done to solve an issue and implement solutions in education.

What makes a project scholarly is using various concepts and theories from academic sources. Using several pieces of literature to explain the project indicates that the project is academic and scholarly—for example, use of peer-reviewed articles, books, and reports to explain concepts and theories (Stewart et al., 2019). In addition, the use of academic sources also makes it beneficial to my profession because through reading and incorporating the sources, I add more knowledge that I can apply in my practice.

The primary way a project differs from a research study is that a project typically involves applying what one has learned into practice. In contrast, a research project goes beyond the application to develop new theories (Flick, 2015). The learned concepts and theories are applied to real-life practices in a project without studying new theories. A research study uncovers new theories and concepts. Another way is that a project does not need to be empirical or follow a particular method. Different people do it differently, as long as it can be understood and has some meaning. However, as Snyder (2019) posits, a research study follows an abstract, literature review, method, and results format and should be empirical.


Buzzetto-More, N. (2013, July). Models to inform capstone program development. In Proceedings of the Informing Science and Information Technology Education Conference (pp. 81-93). Informing Science Institute.

Flick, U. (2015). Introducing research methodology: A beginner’s guide to doing a research project. Sage.

Online EdD Programs. (2022, February 24). Online EDD dissertations, doctoral capstone projects, dissertation in practice. OnlineEdDPrograms.com | Research Accredited Online Doctor of Education Degree Programs. https://www.onlineeddprograms.com/resources/dissertations-doctoral-capstone-projects

Stewart, H., Houghton, L., & Burns, C. (2019). The capstone journey: Exploring design, delivery and evaluation in an undergraduate management discipline context. The Qualitative Reporthttps://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2019.3880

Snyder, H. (2019). Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines. Journal Of Business Research104, 333-339. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.07.039