The Honors Capstone

Students who complete an Honors departmental capstone in one of their majors or minors graduate with distinction in the capstone field. Under the guidance of a faculty advisor and a committee of readers, students may undertake independent research or creative activity, typically over the course of three semesters. Projects vary by field and may include research theses, music recitals, curated art exhibits, screenplays, works of fiction, business plans, or other project types deemed appropriate by faculty in the capstone field. All projects require a substantial written component and a public presentation.  

Many departments have developed guidelines to clarify expectations and requirements for capstones in their areas. Departmental Honors Liaisons are available to support faculty advisors and readers who may have questions about these guidelines. Students and departmental liaisons have access to an Honors Capstone Canvas group which details all requirements and deadlines.

Faculty agree to serve on student capstone committees at their own discretion, and may decline a student request for any reason. 

Advisor Responsibilities

The faculty advisor serves as a mentor to the student and as chair of the capstone committee. Responsibilities include: 

  • Serving as the instructor of record for 6 credits of capstone classes. 
  • Filing a syllabus with the academic unit for each semester in which the student is enrolled in a capstone class.
  • Approving the project proposal during the first semester of capstone work. 
  • Meeting regularly with the student to provide guidance and feedback, review progress, and discuss challenges as they develop and execute their project. 
  • Communicating with the departmental liaison and other members of the capstone committee (readers) on a regular basis.
  • Approving the final project on behalf of the capstone committee, upon successful completion. 

Capstone advisors must be tenured, tenure-track, or RTA JMU faculty members in the department or program where the student is completing the capstone project. 

Reader Responsibilities

The role of the reader is to offer guidance, support, and expertise as part of the capstone committee. Readers should be available for students to communicate with regularly, and should give feedback on the project throughout its execution. Readers will also communicate with the capstone advisor regarding the final approval of the project. 

Readers may include full-time or part-time JMU faculty or non-JMU members with relevant expertise.   

Student Outcomes

The Honors College can provide guidelines for syllabi and expectations for each semester’s progress. General expectations are that students will: 

  • Formulate a project addressing a meaningful idea, problem, or question appropriate to the capstone field. 
  • Support arguments and conclusions with evidence from a variety of sources in a convincing manner. Evidence may include primary and secondary sources as well as student-generated research. 
  • Demonstrate initiative, dedication, and capacity to seek appropriate guidance and support to see a project through to completion. 
  • Summarize their project by preparing and effectively delivering a well-organized presentation. 


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