The Capstone

All AMCS majors complete a research-based Capstone Project during their senior year in which they explore a topic in American culture, drawing upon previous coursework and their experiences in AMCS 375A: American Culture: Methods and Visions (taken Junior year). The Capstone serves as an opportunity to extend and deepen cultural knowledge; to achieve a fuller understanding of the complex interplay of ideas, texts, values, discourses, etc. at work in a given cultural moment; and to develop vital research and project management skills. As the name suggests, the capstone is the culmination of work done in the program!

While many Capstones take the form of traditional research papers, we welcome projects that incorporate creative / multi-media elements, such as websites, blogs, films, non-fiction essays, ethnographies, photo essays, original artworks, museum exhibits, and so on.

A Capstone can be completed in one of the following 3 scenarios:

  • A one-semester independent research project pursued with guidance from an advisor.
  • A two-semester thesis (for those eligible for honors work, see below*).
  • A one-semester project completed in the context of an approved 400- or 500-level seminar.

In all three scenarios, the Capstone will involve original research on a cultural topic, and begin with a proposal submitted in spring of the Junior Year. All projects will be presented to the AMCS Community at an end-of-year symposium, or, on the program website.Students pursing an independent project or an honors thesis enroll in the Capstone Workshop (3 credits) in the Fall of Senior Year. For those who opt to do a two-semester project, additional independent work and consultation will occur through the Spring semester. For those pursuing the Honors Thesis as their Capstone, the two-semester sequence is the only option. For the two-semester option, the final draft/project must be submitted by Spring Break.

To begin work on a Capstone, AMCS majors must have done the following

  • Taken at least one multidisciplinary (MD) course and completed approximately half of their coursework for the AMCS major, including L98 375A: Methods and Visions;
  • Completed, or at least almost finished with, their fieldwork - ideally with their capstone topic in mind;
  • Produced a sound project plan that is approved by the program, and identified an advisor for their project.

*To qualify for honors thesis work, majors need to have proposed a viable thesis-style project and also earned an overall GPA of 3.65 by the start of Fall semester of Senior Year (to maintain Latin Honors eligibility they must also have a 3.65 or higher at the end of Senior Year). In addition, they must also have completed AMCS 375A in their Junior Year, a course which prepares them to develop a multidisciplinary framework for an ambitious project.

key contact

Máire Murphy

Assistant Director