Skip Navigation

Course Details

Course Details

Course Code: MILS699 Course ID: 3902 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

Preparation for the Master of Arts in Military Studies Capstone (Thesis) seminar begins on day one of a student's graduate program of study. The theories, research methods and analytical skills, and substantive knowledge obtained through their master's curriculum provide the basis for the thesis project. Students are required to develop primary and secondary source materials on the research topic and address the writing requirements as described in the syllabus and classroom assignments. The thesis proposal must provide a clear description of a question or problem and a proposed method of answering the question or solving the problem. Guidance on the format of the research seminar proposal and a sample proposal are contained in the APUS Thesis Manual. NOTE: This course may not be taken until all other courses are COMPLETED and student has a 3.0 GPA. THIS COURSE IS 16 WEEKS.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
12/28/20 - 06/04/21 06/07/21 - 09/26/21 Spring 2021 Session C 16 Week session
01/25/21 - 07/02/21 07/05/21 - 10/24/21 Summer 2021 Session A 16 Week session
02/22/21 - 07/30/21 08/02/21 - 11/21/21 Summer 2021 Session K 16 Week session
03/29/21 - 09/03/21 09/06/21 - 12/26/21 Summer 2021 Session C 16 Week session
04/26/21 - 10/01/21 10/04/21 - 01/23/22 Fall 2021 Session A 16 Week session

Current Syllabi

The Master’s Capstone Seminar is a course in which students complete a major research project to demonstrate their mastery of the research process, analytical skills, and ability to produce a well-written and properly cited paper that contributes to the body of knowledge in their field of study. This 16-week course provides sufficient time and opportunity for students to apply their advanced research and analytic skills to a topic relevant to the Intelligence study program and of sufficient U.S. or international security interest.

In addition to the institutional and degree level learning outcomes objectives, the Master of Arts in Military Studies assumes that students have mastered and applied the concepts of the Program objectives and will be able to:

  1. Analyze the origins, development, capabilities, and vulnerabilities of both friendly and hostile military forces.
  2. Assess the major trends, theories, laws of war, events, and people that have shaped military studies in both an historical and modern context.
  3. Evaluate the variables and influences affecting military forces to include the following: leadership, doctrine; strategy, tactics, operations, joint operations and integrated systems, technology, cultures, and the multidimensional battle space.
  4. Judge examples of successful and unsuccessful military and strategic leadership philosophies and decisions based on historical and current events.
  5. Analyze critical issues and trends in national and international security that affect the strategic employment and sustainment of military forces and the relationship between military power and other elements of national power.
  6. Develop effective research, analysis, methodological, and presentation skills relevant to Military Studies.
  7. Synthesize information in a publication-quality paper that presents new knowledge or a new approach to a topic pertinent to the field of Military Studies.

Students are expected to work with their instructor, following the guidance offered by the structure of the course and the instructor’s mentorship as students complete the requisite components of the research project. Students should not expect to submit a final product at the end of the course without having completed each stage of the research process as outlined in the assignments below.

Please note: The language in the evaluation procedures section is a compilation from the APUS End of Program Assessment Manual for Graduate Studies. Some passages are verbatim from the Manual. For clarity, these passages have not been specifically identified as quoted passages but are integrated into the syllabus. The student should read this syllabus in conjunction with the End of Program Assessment Manual.

The course grade is based on the following assessments:

Discussion Forums – 1 percent

Discussion questions will be provided and posts should reflect an assimilation of the readings and respond to the assigned topic(s). Students are required to provide a substantive initial post by Thursday at 11:59 pm ET and respond to two or more classmates by Sunday 11:59 pm ET. Forum posts are graded on timeliness, relevance, knowledge of the weekly readings, and the quality of original ideas.

Research Question, Purpose & Design Statement – 1 percent

In this assignment, you will present your research question along with a purpose statement. You will also present your preliminary thoughts on a research design. In other words, how do you intend to answer your research question. The specific research question should be of depth and breadth required for a major project. Length: 3 pp.

Thesis Proposal – 1 percent

A formal thesis proposal shall be prepared in accordance with the standards of the academic discipline. The formal proposal must provide a clear and lucid description of a question or problem and a proposed method of answering the question or solving the problem. Capstone thesis faculty must approve the proposal before students move on to the next stage of the process. The proposal should explain the question or problem to be investigated and convince the thesis professor that the question or problem merits investigation. It should show that the student has read the relevant and recent literature on the subject and it should contain a list of academically appropriate resources consulted during preliminary research.
In general, the thesis proposal should include background information related to the research topic, purpose of the research, methodology, and analytic procedures to be used. Length: 5 pp.

Literature Review—2 percent

This document contains an annotated summary of the major sources that will be used in the research paper, all of which must be peer-reviewed articles or scholarly texts. Students will identify the source, offer a short synopsis of its main argument, and offer a statement of relevance to the research project. Length: 15-20 pp.

Theoretical Framework – 1 percent

The theoretical framework section develops the theories or models to be used in the study and shows a testable research hypotheses. Length: Varies

Research Design – 1 percent

The Research Design/Methodology describes how the student will test the hypothesis and carry out his/her analysis. This section describes the data to be used to test the hypothesis, how the student will operationalize and collect data on his/her variables, and the analytic methods that to be used, noting potential biases and limitations to the research approach. Length: Varies

Findings/Results/Discussion – 2 percent

The Findings/Results/Discussion section describes the results of the study. Keep in mind that the “results” are the direct observations of the research, while the “discussion” is the interpretation of the results and research. Length: Varies

The Finishing Touches – 1 percent

The finishing touches include refinements to prior sections and an updated Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication Page, Acknowledgement Page, Abstract, Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of Figures, IRB paperwork, and References.

Draft Capstone — 5 percent

The draft should include all substantive sections of the paper in their entirety as a working manuscript. The draft is not meant to be an outline of what the student will write for the final capstone thesis but rather the thesis in its complete form apart from any appendices. It must contain in-text citations in Turabian parenthetical style including a References List. Examples of successful capstone papers are available in the classroom to illustrate structures and formats that may vary depending on the research question and methodology of the specific project. Length: 50p. excluding appendices.

MA Thesis Submission – 85 percent

Based on prior submission of all assignments in the course, the final capstone thesis project will reflect the substantive elements developed and approved throughout the capstone course, representing a partnership between the student and the instructor. Keep in mind that appropriate stylistic formatting and documentation are the student’s responsibility. Student papers that do not follow the prescribed style rules will not be accepted. All declarations, appendices, metadata, and submission information as outlined in the End of Program Graduate Assessment Manual shall be part of the final capstone thesis. Length: 50p. excluding appendices.

Required Course Textbooks

There are no required textbooks for this course. All resources are delivered electronically and are available in the classroom.

Book Title:Various resources from the APUS Library & the Open Web are used. Please visit to locate the course eReserve.*

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.