Nike’s capstone program is one of the company’s most prestigious opportunities for students and universities. As one of the largest sportswear companies in the world, Nike is very selective in choosing the partnerships that will represent their brand. They use a thorough selection process to identify programs and individuals that exemplify Nike’s core values of innovation, passion for sport, and drive to push boundaries.
The first step in the selection process is for universities to apply to be considered as a capstone partner school. Nike markets the opportunity broadly to universities around the world with strong design, business, marketing or sports-related programs. Interested schools must submit a proposal detailing the strengths of their specific program or department and how a capstone collaboration could mutually benefit both parties. Proposals are reviewed by a committee at Nike headquarters consisting of leaders from their university relations, design, marketing and product teams.
Committee members evaluate university proposals based on several key criteria. They consider the caliber and reputation of the applying academic program to ensure capstone projects will be handled by high achieving students. They also assess how engaged and supportive the university leadership and faculty would be to ensure a seamless partnership experience. Strategic geographical location is another factor, as Nike aims to collaborate with schools in regions where they have business priorities. The quality and specificity of proposed capstone project ideas is weighed, focusing on ideas directly relevant to Nike’s business. Universities must also demonstrate a cultural fit with Nike’s brand and willingness to promote the partnership opportunities to students.
Schools that pass the initial proposal screening are then visited by Nike representatives who tour facilities, meet with faculty and gather additional insights. This allows Nike to validate claims made in proposals and ensure administrators and faculty truly understand and buy into the vision for the collaboration. Site visits also allow Nike to begin developing rapport with potential university partners. Final university partner selections are made based on the comprehensive evaluation of submitted proposals and information gathered from site visits. Typically 4-6 schools per year globally are selected to embark on 3 year capstone partnership agreements.
Once partner universities have been identified, the student selection process begins. Each selected school is allotted a set number of capstone placements annually based on size and program scope. Schools then develop their own application process to identify top student candidates for the coveted Nike capstone spots. Application requirements usually include academic achievement, relevant work experience, demonstrated leadership abilities and a passion for sports, design or business innovation. Students must also submit a proposed capstone project idea based on needs presented by Nike.
Partner schools review applications and recommend their top candidates to Nike for final approval. Nike conducts phone interviews with referred students, evaluating how they might contribute value through their proposed project and cultural fit. Final student selections are jointly decided by Nike and each partner university based on qualifications and mutual alignment. Selected students are then matched and assigned to capstone projects that leverage their specific skills and proposed project concepts. This helps maximize the potential impact and ROI of each individual capstone partnership.
Through this rigorous selection process, Nike ensures they are collaborating with the world’s top universities and students who share their vision and values. The process allows Nike to identify partners with demonstrated strengths in key strategic areas while scoping projects directly aligned with business needs. It also guarantees a personalized approach tailored to each university’s unique talents and regional opportunities. As a result, Nike is able to maximize the success and impact of their coveted capstone partnerships, fueling innovation that moves their brand and business vision forward for years to come. Their selective process exemplifies how thorough screening cultivates mutually beneficial, high-impact collaborations between elite companies and academic institutions.