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We invite public sector and nonprofit organizations to submit projects for our Fall 2020 Capstone graduate student consulting teams.

The School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs Capstone is learning in action. Capstone projects give our graduate students the opportunity to put their training into practice on a real project for a community-based nonprofit or government client. They give your organization a team of advanced graduate student “consultants” who put their research, technical, and management skills to work on a project that you define. The result: a final product that helps you meet the challenges of your organization and its mission.

In April, Capstone teams and clients will share their projects at a gala reception at Northeastern University. It’s a great way to showcase your organization and its work with the entire Northeastern community as well as invited elected officials, civic leaders, and neighbors.

Capstone FAQS

This capstone is a faculty-­guided team project for students completing course work in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. The intent is for students to utilize what they have learned in their coursework in a real‐world professional setting working on a project for a client.

The initial scope of work for each project will be drafted in advance and will continue to be refined in the first few weeks through meetings with the faculty advisor and the client. The scope of work should be something that can be achieved over the course of a single semester (January through April). The deliverables to the client, to be outlined in the scope of work, at minimum will include a final written report and a presentation before the client and other stakeholders.

Students work in project teams of three to five students with a mix of skills and interests.
The instructor and faculty advisors for this course will guide help guide each team with the understanding that the work is largely student-driven. This will include advice on helping to define the scope of work, locate useful resources, think through challenges and obstacles, and provide general feedback on the report and presentation.

There is no cost for Capstone team professional services. You are responsible for any costs required by your specific project (for example: software, materials, transportation).

Typically, a capstone team will include students with a variety of skills that are matched to the project needs. This may include research skills such as data collection, mapping/GIS, statistical analysis, “big data” techniques, survey design and deployment, interviewing, and program evaluation. In addition, our MPA students also have expertise in community engagement, budgeting, cost/benefit analysis, and marketing/design.

We look for capstone projects that offer our students the opportunity to apply their knowledge to a policy problem in a real-world context.  Criteria for good capstone projects include:

  • Represents a clear need for your organization and timely/relevant – not “busy work”
  • Progress, either whole or in part, can be made during the course of a single semester
  • Scope is appropriate so that a significant contribution is made without being unmanageable
  • All necessary elements are readily attainable at the start of the project (e.g. data for analysis, access to stakeholders for interviews)
  • At least one member of the organization can serve as a point of contact for questions and feedback throughout the project
  • The team will have the opportunity to present their findings to a group of individuals in your organization.

The Capstone course runs from Early-September to Early-December with a showcase in Mid-December.

Fall 2020 Capstone Application

  • Project Contact Information

  • Project Proposal