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Capstone - BIS

The Capstone Project is a two-semester process in which students pursue independent research on a question or problem of their choice, engage with the scholarly debates in the relevant disciplines, and - with the guidance of a faculty mentor - produce a substantial paper that reflects a deep understanding of the topic.

Students are strongly encouraged to choose a topic in which they have some competence based on their academic work, professional experience, or exploration of future career options. The Capstone Project is both a valuable intellectual experience and also a vehicle through which students can demonstrate their research, analytical, and writing skills to either prospective employers or graduate and professional schools.

Note: Completion of the Capstone Project is required for graduation.

Capstone Framework & Guidelines

A Capstone Project must demonstrate the following characteristics. Each characteristic can be satisfied in different ways depending on the topic, discipline, and the approach taken. But, taken together, they represent the capstone framework.

Originality: You must reach your own deep understanding of a clearly defined and focused topic. You must formulate your own perspective on an issue and draw your own conclusions. The final project and form of presentation can also draw upon your originality and creativity.

Independence: Although you will have a capstone mentor as a guide and domain expert, you will work primarily on your own.

Appropriate Scope: The Capstone Project is equivalent to a six-credit course. Therefore, you should plan to spend at least as much time and energy on your Capstone Project as you have devoted to your most challenging courses. You will have just one semester to complete your research and writing. Therefore, you will need to keep your project within a limited and realistic scope.

Orderly & Objective Process of Inquiry: The Capstone Project demonstrates your facility with the methods of inquiry. These include the ability to ask the right questions, to synthesize ideas, to identify and use evidence, to draw and support conclusions, to recognize compelling research, to communication your ideas, or to solve a problem using a specific set of tools.

Intellectual Stretch: The Capstone Project should take you to a place where you have not been before, and perhaps, did not even think you could reach.

In addition to the framework, there are also some basic guidelines for the Capstone Project.

  • The Capstone Project will take two semesters to complete. During the first semester, students enroll in Capstone I, develop the Capstone proposal, and secure approval of the proposal from a faculty mentor and the Capstone instructor. During the second semester, students enroll in the Capstone II.
  • Separate grades are received for Capstone I and Capstone II. Each grade must be a C (2.0) or better.
  • Enrollment in Capstone I takes place no later than the second to last semester and no earlier than the third to last semester prior to graduation.
  • The faculty mentor is a member of the UVA faculty. Mentors are approved prior to enrollment in Capstone I.
  • Students will submit a formal academic paper. Two simply bounded/covered copies and one electronic copy are required. One will be graded and returned; the other will be added to the BIS library of Capstone Projects.
  • Students will make a presentation to an audience of students and faculty. These presentations are not graded separately.

* The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements.

Faculty Spotlight

I want my students to realize that good writing just doesn’t happen. You have to work at it.
A photograph of Charlotte Matthews

Charlotte Matthews


Charlotte Matthews is a well-regarded poet with three full-length poetry collections to her name. Also an associate professor in the BIS program, she delivers rigorous instruction in writing and revision while encouraging students to develop their own voice. In 2018, Charlotte received the Adelle F. Robertson Award, the school’s highest honor, for sustained excellence in providing new knowledge, instruction, and public service to the people, organizations, and institutions served by the University.

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It is extremely energizing to teach adult students, especially the highly motivated students in our program.
A photograph of Stephen Levine

Stephen Levine


Stephen is an associate professor in BIS, and also serves as the program director. He has been teaching courses on U.S. cultural history since 2006, and, in addition to his work as an instructor, strives to increase access and flexibility at UVA to help adult learners reach their academic goals. Under his leadership, students are now able to complete the BIS degree entirely online.

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Student Spotlight

It was very important to me to set an example for my three children. And earning my degree was a source of personal satisfaction.
A photograph of Marisela Perez

Marisela Perez


As a part-time student and working mother of three, Marisela took advantage of flexible learning opportunities and employer reimbursement to earn her bachelor’s from SCPS. After completing her associate’s degree at a local community college, she enrolled in the BIS program part-time. She completed her degree online after relocating from Charlottesville to California, and now works as an accounting manager for Tri-Dim, who sponsored her SCPS studies.

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I'm in a managerial position now. An SCPS degree provided the foundation for advancing in my career.
A photograph of Clifton Jones

Clifton Jones


When Clifton began his academic career at UVA, it was as a biomedical engineering student in the rigorous Engineering School. Three years in, however, he realized that this field was not for him. He left Charlottesville to enter the workforce, and started applying his talents at a youth arts organization in Washington, DC. Now returning to UVA as a BIS student, Clifton is completing his undergraduate degree in his true area of interest, and is collecting skills that will help him advance his creative career.

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At orientation, everyone was kind and supportive, and they make you feel welcomed as a UVA student. You get all the services you would expect from a university like this. It is amazing.
A photograph of Jesús Pino

Jesús Pino


Jesús came to SCPS by way of his home city of Córdoba, where he developed a passion for photography as the co-founder of a bimonthly arts and culture magazine. When he relocated to the United States for his wife’s job, he decided to advance his photography and advertising career with an undergraduate degree. Now a bachelor’s student at BIS, he’s making connections, developing expertise, and gaining experience in pursuit of his dream job.

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