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Medical College of Wisconsin MPH Capstone Project

This course allows the student to demonstrate public health competencies through the completion of a major written paper on a significant public health issue or topic.

The Capstone Project should be taken as the last course of the MPH program, and it requires substantial preparation; the student is expected to begin planning more than three months before enrolling in the course. A Timeline of Responsibilities 2021-2022 (PDF) lists activities and deadlines several semesters in advance.

This website describes the course and its responsibilities in detail. For further information, please contact the MPH Program at or (414) 955-4510.

Preparing For Your Capstone

Presentations Explaining Capstone Project

Overview (PDF) - Provides a general explanation of the Capstone Project course.

Planning your Project (PDF) - Describes the first steps in Capstone Project planning. Explains the website and course prerequisites, and introduces the major component of the course, the writing of a Master's Paper.

Developing a Proposal (PDF) - Provides general information about the development of a proposal as well as specifics regarding the proposal form and submission process.

Working on your Project (PDF) - 
Describes the submission and formatting processes as well as the other final responsibilities of submitting a PowerPoint presentation and the Graduating Student Final Competency Self Assessment.

Sections of the Master's Paper (PDF) - Explains how to organize your Master’s Paper and create an outline as well as the different sections of the paper: title page, abstract, introduction, purpose statement, literature review, methods, results, discussion, conclusion, references, and appendices

Course Deadlines
Description of Masters Paper

An original Master’s Paper on a significant public health or community health issue or topic will be the primary component of the Capstone Project. All papers are required to contain a comprehensive literature review. The Master’s Paper can take many forms and may include:

  • Program Development. Students work to develop a program in areas such as health promotion or a community intervention.
  • Program Evaluation. Students conduct an evaluation of a public or community health program to determine effectiveness and outcomes.
  • Community Assessment. Students conduct various aspects of a community health assessment.
  • Community Health Planning. Students develop various aspects of a community health plan.
  • Public Health Policy. Students research and develop a public policy analysis or an advocacy statement related to a significant public or community health issue.
  • Applied Research. Students conduct research on a public or community health topic of interest.

Presentation: Working on your Project (PDF)

Introduction and Purpose
The Capstone Project is an essential aspect of the MPH curriculum. The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) requires that, “All professional degree programs identified in the instructional matrix shall assure that each student demonstrates skills and integration of knowledge through a culminating experience.”

A culminating experience is one that requires a student to synthesize and integrate knowledge acquired in coursework and other learning experiences and to apply theory and principles in a situation that approximates some aspect of professional practice. It will be used as one means by which faculty judge whether the student has mastered the body of public health knowledge and can demonstrate proficiency in the required public health competencies.

Presentation: Overview of Capstone Project (PDF)

Specific learning objectives include: Apply appropriate public health theory, skills, and knowledge to a public health or community health issue. Apply appropriate public health theory, skills, and knowledge to a public health or community health issue. Complete a major written paper on a significant public health or community health issue or topic. Demonstrate proficiency in the required public health competencies. Demonstrate professional writing and presentation skills.

Presentation: Planning your Project (PDF)

Students should have completed all MPH coursework, including the Field Placement, before enrolling in the Capstone Project. However, due to the uniqueness of the Capstone Project and opportunities that may arise, exceptions may be made. Students must submit the Early Capstone Project Request Form, which can be found on the Capstone Project Forms to the Program Director in these instances.

Students are required to maintain CITI (Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative) certification in the Protection of Human Research Subjects throughout the Capstone Project. The course may be accessed at the CITI Website, and students must register for one of the following groups.

Group 1 – Biomedical Investigators, Co-Investigators, and Study Coordinators
Group 3 – Appropriate for all IRB, DSMB, DSMC, and GCRC members and everyone involved in Both Biomedical & Social/Behavioral Research
Group 4 – Social/Behavioral Research PI’s, Co-PI’s, Study Coordinators
A copy of the Human Research Curriculum Completion Report should be submitted to Kim Contardi, MPH Program Manager, via email to or by fax to (414) 955-6529.

Writing Your Master's Paper

Sections of the Paper

Presentation: Sections of the Master's Paper (PDF)

Formatting Standards of Capstone Paper(PDF)

The paper should be of publishable quality and include the following:

  • Title Page – Include name, title of project, Faculty Advisor’s name, and project’s time frame.

    Title Page Template (PDF)
  • Abstract – Provide an overview of the paper. The abstract should not exceed 300 words.

          Sample Abstract (PDF)

  • Literature Review – Identify and review literature and previous research applicable to the paper topic. This section should include a synthesis and discussion of the reviewed literature to identify strengths, weaknesses, trends, opportunities, etc. The review should provide the basis for the paper.
  • Methods – Describe the methodology utilized in the development of the paper. This might include the design, setting, participants, intervention, and main outcome measures of the Capstone Project, or it might provide details regarding sampling, measurement, data collection, and analysis of research.
  • Results – Present the results of the Capstone Project. Explain the product of the effort put forth.

  Sample Results (PDF)

  • Discussion – Discuss, in detail, the results. Place the results in the context of the existing base of knowledge on the topic, and discuss limitations.

    Sample Discussion (PDF)
  • Conclusion – Provide discrete conclusions supported by evidence. Express any further study or effort implied by the conclusions, and give equal attention to positive and negative conclusions.
  • References – Properly and consistently cite references in a reputable format of the student’s choice.

  Citation Guide (website)

  • Appendices – Support materials may include IRB letters, survey/interview instruments, letters of support, data analysis coding sheets, or others.

Examples of Previous Students' Abstracts & PowerPoint Presentations

Student performance will be based on the Faculty Advisor’s evaluation of the student’s written paper and presentation with input from the Second Reader. The final grade is determined by the student’s Faculty Advisor, and the student will be assigned a grade of Excellent, Good, Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. A student whose performance is evaluated as Unsatisfactory will be required to repeat the course. A breakdown of the grading is as follows:

Capstone Project Proposal – 10%
Master’s Paper - 80%
PowerPoint Presentation - 10%


Early Capstone Project Request Form

Required 10 weeks before enrollment. 

Early Capstone Request Form (PDF)

Permission to Post

Required before the end of the final semester.

Permission to Post Form

Capstone Project Proposal

Required at least six weeks before enrollment.

Capstone Project Proposal (DOC) 
Capstone Project Proposal Sample (PDF)

Timeline of Responsibilities

Begins three months before enrollment.

Timeline of Responsibilities (PDF)

Capstone Project Handbook

Review more than three months prior to enrollment in Capstone Project course.

Capstone Project Handbook (PDF)

Master's Paper Title Page Template

Required two weeks prior to end of semester.

Master's Paper Title Page Template Sample (DOC) 

Graduating Student Final Competency Self-Assessment

Required by the end of the final semester.

Graduating Student Final Competency Self-Assessment (DOC)

Faculty Advisor Evaluation of Student's Capstone Project

Required before the end of the semester.

Faculty Advisor Evaluation of Student's Capstone Project (DOC)