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 11:55 pm ET and respond to two or more classmates by Sunday 11:55 pm ET. Forum posts are graded on timeliness, relevance, knowledge of the weekly readings, and the quality of original ideas.
Proposed Research Question and Purpose Statement – 0 percent (this grade will be assigned with the final research question submission)
This element is submitted through Assignments for review by the instructor who will also provide feedback and any “course corrections” to focus the project feedback. The components of this assignment include a research question and a purpose and design statement. It must contain at least eight sources, at least six of which must be peer-reviewed. The specific research question should be of depth and breadth required for a major project. Length: 3 pp.
Final Research Question and Purpose Statement – 1 percent
This element is a revision of the above assignment based on instructor critique and peer-interaction in the discussion forums. The components of this assignment include a research question and a purpose and design statement. It must contain at least eight sources, at least six of which must be peer-reviewed. The specific research question should be of depth and breadth required for a major project. Length: 3 pp.
Thesis Proposal – 1 percent
A formal 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. The instructor 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 instructor 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 the preliminary stages of 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. Proposal drafting is considered a learning process and helps students avoid oversights and possible mistakes. The formal proposal should not exceed five (5) pages (proposal title page not included). Length: 5 pp.
Literature Review—2 percent
This document contains a narrative summary of the major sources that inform the research topic. The articles under review must be peer-reviewed articles, scholarly texts, or other appropriate sources and websites. The literature review is not an annotated bibliography or a “laundry list” of reviewed articles. It should capture the issues in the research topic and be organized thematically and be written as a narrative essay. At the end of this review, students should remind the reader that the research question has still not been adequately answered and there is more research to conduct, which is the purpose of the project! The review should include 10-12 sources and include a list of complete citations. Length: 10-15 pp.
Draft Capstone Thesis Project —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 citations in Turabian style and a Reference List or Bibliography as appropriate for the citation format used. 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: 50-65 pp. excluding appendices.
Final Capstone Thesis Project – 90 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: 50-65 pp. excluding appendices.