Capstone Project


For any questions or concerns
about the capstone project, first
attempt to contact your
instructor. If you are having
difficulty reaching her or him,
please contact a member of the
undergraduate advising staff.

Undergraduate Advising Office
274 Ford
(612) 301-3971

All communication studies majors are required to complete a capstone in a 4xxx/5xxx-level communication studies course. Guidelines for completing this capstone requirement are at the bottom of this page.

In order to complete your capstone, you will need to do the following:

  1. Enroll in a 4xxx- or 5xxx-level communication studies course.
  2. Enroll in COMM 3995W as S/N for 1 credit. This accompanies registration in the 4xxx- or 5xxx-level communication studies course. You will need to e-mail the undergraduate advising office to obtain a permission number for the section that links to your selected 4/5xxx course.
  3. Inform the professor of your selected course at the start of the semester that you wish to write your capstone project in the course.
  4. Complete the capstone in the class with at least a passing grade (generally C- or better). Depending on the course and the nature of the capstone project, the capstone project may be an independently graded assignment (such as a research paper), or it may be so integrated into the course that the final course grade also constitutes the grade for the capstone. The instructor should clarify this before you begin the capstone project.

    Note: If a student fails to meet these requirements, the professor of the 4/5xxx-level course will enter a grade of "N" in COMM 3995W. No grades of "Incomplete" will be allowed. See Retaking COMM 3995W for additional information.

Important notes:

  1. All communication studies primary majors are required to produce a capstone. If you are completing communication studies as a second major, and your primary major is in CLA, please contact the communication studies departmental advisor to discuss a potential waiver.
  2. Online Distance Learning (ODL) sections of 4/5xxx-level communication studies courses are not eligible for capstone project completion.
  3. Specific expectations for capstones vary. It is vitally important for students to pay close attention to the specific requirements identified by your course instructor.
  4. Students must register for COMM 3995W during the semester in which the capstone project is completed.
  5. It is advisable for students to complete the capstone in advance of their final semester, if possible.

A word of advice

The most common problem that leads to failing the capstone project and having to retake COMM 3995W is waiting too long to start the paper. All papers will need revision. Start early on your capstone project and allow plenty of time to receive instructor feedback on a complete draft (preferable multiple drafts) and revise as necessary.

Retaking Comm 3995W*
Students who receive an N grade in COMM 3995W can enroll in a different COMM 4/5xxx course in a subsequent semester (or summer) and enroll in COMM 3995W for 1 credit again along with that course. Students write a new paper to meet the requirements with the new COMM 4/5xxx level course.
* In accordance with University of Minnesota Twin Cities policy, students are only allowed to retake a completed course once, including COMM 3995W. Requests to enroll for a third time must be petitoned through the CLA advising office. You can find more information about this policy on this OneStop page.

Communication studies librarian
Kimberly Clarke is available to help you with any research related questions. View more information.
Room 170B Wilson Library

Guidelines for Comm 3995W Completion

  1. The capstone must relate to the subject matter of the course in which it is written. The capstone is intended to demonstrate competency in writing.
  2. Papers must have a clearly identified conceptual or theoretical basis related to the subject matter of the course. The instructor will set the criteria for standards of quality and conceptual/theoretical content.
  3. With permission of the instructor, students may combine a series of shorter papers written in a course to develop the longer capstone. The shorter papers, however, cannot be stapled together or simply combined. The capstone must reflect a coherent synthesis of the shorter papers. The shorter papers may, however, comprise separate sections of the capstone (i.e., purpose, theory, methods, and results).
  4. Papers must be typed, double-spaced, and 10 to 20 pages in length.
  5. All papers must make use of appropriate bibliographic citations. Library-based papers must have at least 10-15 different citations in the text of the paper from the kinds of sources specified by the instructor. Papers that are based on observation or data-gathering must contain at least five different citations of scholarly publications in addition to presentation of data or statistics (often these citations will be references to prior research, theory, or methods that inform the data-gathering project). Papers composed solely of data or observations without analysis or conceptual organization are unacceptable (e.g., journals or logs).
  6. The paper must use the appropriate footnoting and bibliographical style detailed by either the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Modern Language Association (MLA).
  7. The paper must demonstrate competency in writing skills. These skills include appropriate limitation of topic for length of paper, clear statement of purpose, clear organization of ideas, proper spelling, grammar, sentence construction, and a writing style appropriate to the subject matter.
  8. Students will have the opportunity to turn in a rough draft of the capstone and get feedback from the instructor about what, if any, revisions are required for successfully completing the capstone project.
  9. Students should consult the communication studies librarian, Kimberly Clarke, for assistance with finding appropriate resources.

    Note: Instructors may change these requirements by explicitly stating any changes in their syllabus and/or capstone assignment. If there are no explicitly stated exceptions in the syllabus/capstone project assignment, these guidelines will be in effect.