MAIS - Capstone Project

The capstone project requires the application of the knowledge, insights, and skills acquired in the program. They are completed in the final semester of the program and are the final requirement for graduation.

Thesis or Applied Project?

Both the thesis and the applied project require analysis of a contemporary global issue from an interdisciplinary perspective, as well as the application of what students have learned throughout the MAIS program to an independent research project. The two options differ, however, in their overall structure, the format of the final analysis, and the audience for whom the project is intended. A thesis provides an answer a question that contributes to new knowledge and is generalizable beyond a single setting. The applied project provides a solution to a question of practical importance, or evaluates a curriculum, procedure, or policy within a particular organization or institution. Any questions as to whether you wish to complete a thesis or an applied project should be discussed with your adviser.


For an electronic version of the Capstone Project Manual, please email

The Capstone Project Manual outlines the elements of the thesis or applied project, roles of the student and adviser, content guidelines, formatting suggestions, submission procedures, and general criteria for evaluation. Given the breadth of topics available for study within International Studies, this guide is designed to produce consistency of style, while allowing flexibility.


You will write the thesis or applied project under the guidance of a faculty adviser. In the spring semester, you will identify an adviser most suited to your research needs. It is not mandatory to select an adviser from among MAIS Program faculty, but advisers must be employed by the University of San Francisco. External advisers are only allowed in exceptional circumstances.

After a relationship is established, students and advisers sign a Thesis or Applied Project Agreement and submit this document to the MAIS Office (KA 213) for approval by the MAIS Directors or Departmental Chair.