WHAT IS THE TIMELINE FOR COMPLETING THE CAPSTONE PROJECT AFTER THE PROPOSAL IS APPROVED

Once a capstone proposal is approved, students have a set amount of time to complete their project, which usually ranges from 3-6 months depending on the program and institution. Breaking this overall timeline down into specific milestones and target dates can help keep a large project like this on track for successful completion.

The first month after approval should focus on research and planning. The student should spending 2-3 weeks thoroughly researching their topic to gain a deeper understanding of the scope and any challenges involved. They should dig into academic literature, industry reports, case studies, and data sources to lay the groundwork for their methodology. By the end of the first month, they should have an annotated bibliography compiled and a draft research plan outlining their approach, questions to be answered, assumptions, limitations and timeline.

The second month is when work on the capstone project truly kicks off. The first two weeks should involve finalizing the research plan and beginning data collection if applicable. Qualitative data collection methods like interviews or focus groups may begin. Any necessary equipment, software licenses or other materials also need to be acquired. The last two weeks involve analyzing collected data, exploring patterns and insights. Charts, graphs and preliminary findings should start coming together. Major sections of the literature review and methodology chapters should also be drafted.

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By the end of the second month, the student should have a minimum of 10-15 pages drafted for each of the major project chapters – introduction, literature review and methodology. They should be able to clearly articulate the problem statement or question guiding their research as well as how they plan to approach answering it. Any data collection should be well underway at this stage.

The third month marks the halfway point and a key deadline – a preliminary proposal defense. This allows the student to present their initial findings to their committee and receive feedback on the project direction before investing significant additional time. The committee will want to see polished drafts of the introduction, literature review and methodology chapters at minimum. This month focuses on data analysis if applicable, as well as refining literature reviews based on committee feedback and fleshing out results and discussion chapters.

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The student should spend 2-3 weeks performing deeper analysis on their collected or secondary data, identifying themes and relationships. Initial result visuals like charts and tables should be prepared. Committee feedback from the defense is incorporated into revising the draft chapters. A complete draft of the quantitative or qualitative analysis as well as initial results writeups should be finished by the end of the third month.

For the fourth month, the focus is on synthesis and completion. The results chapter is polished based on analysis performed. The discussion chapter synthesizes findings within the context of the literature reviewed initially. Limitations and implications are also discussed more fully. Throughout, revisions are made to drafts based on continuing committee feedback. One or two drafts of the full project paper should be completed and reviewed by both committee chair and full committee.

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In the final fifth month before the defense deadline, refinement and wrapping up take priority. A polished final full draft is submitted 3-4 weeks in advance for committee review. Feedback received at this stage involves mostly small revisions like grammar, formatting or clarifying certain points rather than major changes. The student defends their full completed project in an oral exam in weeks 4-5 of the final month. Any post-defense revisions required by the committee are incorporated to publish or archive the final capstone paper.

Breaking the overall capstone timeline into specific monthly goals, deliverables and deadlines helps ensure the large project stays on track to completion. Regular interim check-ins with the research committee also allow mid-course feedback to refine direction as needed before investing significant time in approaches that may not be viable. Sticking to this timeline structure can help any student successfully complete their capstone paper and presentation within the designated full program period.

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