Saint Louis University


The capstone serves as documentation of your personal mastery of professional competencies. It is designed to be an integrative experience for MPA students. Public administration core and elective courses should be incorporated into the capstone competencies to examine an issue of importance to St. Louis, the region or the nation.  

Capstone Competencies  

1. Blend a body of professional knowledge with continuous learning
2. Develop the ability to utilize budgetary and other analytical techniques and research methods
3. Demonstrate an understanding of social responsibility and social justice in public administration
4. Develop creative strategies to address challenging situations
5. Utilize technology, including GIS
6. Use data to inform both public and nonprofit-sector decision-making


In order to accurately measure the extent to which you demonstrate the ability these competencies, we use the following capstone rubric, which you can download here


Content & Organization  

The capstone project may concentrate on organization, policy or program evaluation. The topic may arise from an internship, work experience, original empirical research or description, explanation and analysis. Students are expected to formulate practical recommendations on the basis of their research findings.

The final product should be organized as follows:

1. Executive Summary

2. Table of Contents

  • List of tables and figures
  • Body of text

3. Body of Text

  • Introduction
  • Problem Statement
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Findings
  • Implications of the Study

4. Bibliography

5. Appendices (must include all supporting materials such as interviews, databases, etc.)


Evaluation Criteria  

1. Substance

  • Clear Statement of purpose (problem statement) and focus
  • Grounding in the relevant literature on the problem
  • Appropriate methodology
  • Demonstrates understanding of methods, link to concepts and the nature of data
  • Clear statement of findings

2. Presentation and Language Style

  • Grammatically correct
  • Appropriate and consistent research citation and documentation
  • Appropriate graphics to display data and the results of analysis
  • Visual materials to support presentation of the overall document


Your Committee  

You will need to select three faculty advisors to serve on your committee. Advisors can be selected from any of the MPA faculty. 


Approximate Timeline  

Semester prior to Graduation:

  • Submit a clearly focused Problem Statement to your main faculty advisor
  • Once Problem Statement is approved, begin library research
  • Form Capstone Committee
  • Submit your Capstone Proposal to your Capstone Advisor
  • Once approved, begin producing the Capstone Project

Graduating Semester:

  • Complete all research
  • Write the Capstone Project
  • Submit completed Capstone to the Capstone Committee
  • Make revisions
  • Present Capstone to the committee in an Oral Defense

    This is a very general guideline. You will need to be in constant contact with your Capstone Advisor for exact deadlines pertaining to your candidacy.



To guide you in preparing your capstone, you can examine capstones completed by previous MPA graduates.

Running Head:  Defining the Problem of "Stop Snitching" - Jessica Vick, MPA 2009

"Recycling in St. Louis County" - Michelle Gossett, MPA 2006

Chosen Success Measures of Youth Programs: An Open Systems Theory Case Study on How Youth Programs Secure Funding - Rebecca Wodzak, MPA 2015