Building a social networking site like Facebook or LinkedIn. This would require designing user profiles, privacy settings, newsfeeds, messaging capabilities, and more. It tests skills in web dev, UX design, security, scaling, and databases.
Developing an e-commerce site like Amazon. Students would create a storefront, shopping cart functionality, payment processing integration, order management system, inventory tracking, analytics, and other features small businesses need.
Creating a content management system (CMS) like WordPress. Students design and code a platform for creating and managing websites without code. This shows skills in PHP, databases, APIs, authentication, and administration interfaces.
Building a SaaS application. Students design and develop software like project management, accounting, or CRM tools that can be accessed online. Skills tested include scalable architecture, multi-tenancy, customization, billing/payments, and API integration.
Developing Mobile Applications – Another popular capstone is designing and building a native or cross-platform mobile app. This demonstrates skills in mobile frameworks, UI/UX design principles for small screens, offline functionality, push notifications, location services and more. Some example projects include:
Creating an event finder or travel app that uses location services and maps APIs to display nearby points of interest.
Developing a study/flashcards app that allows creating and sharing decks of digital flashcards across different device platforms.
Building a photo/video sharing app with social features like filters, hashtags, comments and the ability to follow other users.
Designing a “super app” that combines several useful functions like ridesharing, food delivery, local services marketplace into one integrated mobile experience.
Developing Desktop Applications – For students focusing on areas like systems programming, embedded systems or desktop platforms, a capstone could involve coding cross-platform desktop apps using technologies like .NET, Java, Python or C++. Example projects:
Creating an image/photo editor with advanced filters, effects and organizational tools.
Building a multimedia player that supports different file formats, file browsing, playlists and streaming.
Developing an IDE-like text editor with features for syntax highlighting, code snippets, extensions and version control integration.
Designing a desktop database app for storing and visualizing data with advanced query capabilities and report generation.
Developing APIs and Libraries – Another common type of capstone focuses on designing, documenting and distributing APIs or libraries. This allows students to apply skills and knowledge around architecture, abstraction, encapsulation, security and documentation. Examples include:
Designing a library or SDK for a cloud service that makes common tasks simple through abstractions and encapsulation of complexity.
Creating a reusable geo-location or mapping API that can be integrated into other applications.
Building an image/audio/video processing library with common functions that other developers can easily leverage in their projects.
Open-sourcing a natural language processing or machine learning library with clean APIs and thorough documentation for developers.
Implementing Algorithms and Data Structures – For students wanting to dig into core CS principles, a capstone around implementing various algorithms or data structures from scratch shows mastery of fundamental concepts. Some example projects:
Coding a hash table with chaining from scratch and benchmarking performance against built-in implementations.
Implementing various sorting algorithms like merge, quick, heap and comparing running times with large data sets.
Creating self-balancing binary search trees from scratch with insertion, removal and traversal functions.
Building a primitives library with common data structures like stacks, queues, linked lists, graphs, tries from the ground up in C.
As you can see, there are many types of meaningful and impactful projects that computer science students have developed for their capstones. The key is to pick a project scope that allows thoroughly demonstrating core CS skills and knowledge gained throughout the program.