UCLA capstones build on a curriculum with core requirements and a progression of electives that lead to a culminating experience. Capstone options also build on the success of existing experiences and allow for broad applicability across UCLA’s diverse programs. Certified UCLA capstone experiences must meet five criteria:

  1. The project must require the student to engage in a creative, inquiry-based learning experience that deepens the student’s knowledge and integration of the discipline.
  2. The project may be completed individually or by a group of peers, provided each student is given agency; each student’s contribution must be significant, identifiable, and graded.
  3. The project must culminate in a tangible product that can be archived (including film, video, etc.) for at least three years by the responsible unit (department or program).
  4. The project must be part of an upper-division course of at least four units, usually within the curriculum established for the student’s major or minor. Whenever possible, capstone courses and projects should be taught and mentored by ladder faculty.
  5. Opportunities must be available or developed for students to share their capstone products (paper, performance, or project) publicly. Examples might be a presentation to a peer audience such as a class, a departmental mini-conference, or a research group meeting; a poster at a department or campus venue or professional meeting; campus music, dance, theater or art event; or a competition that is judged by the professional community in the discipline.

Capstones are designed to be the culmination of a UCLA undergraduate experience. Capstones at UCLA range from yearlong sequences of courses or tutorials to a single seminar, and from honors theses to comprehensive seminar projects or internships. They may be based in tutorials, labs, advanced courses, or seminars, and may include either individual projects or team-based projects. Capstone experiences may be mentored by faculty or by advanced graduate students (with faculty oversight). They may culminate in a major or a minor or might build on other educational experiences unrelated to a specific curriculum, including yearlong projects such as UCLA’s Undergraduate Science Journal.

The four levels of UCLA capstone options are illustrated in the figure below. The four levels represent different expectations for student engagement and independence, ranging from advanced senior seminars or project courses that require a comprehensive term paper, performance, or product design, to individually designed majors. The percentages listed indicate the expected participation of seniors at each of the four levels. It should be noted that some students might complete capstones at more than one level; for example, a student, having completed an advanced seminar, might decide to engage in an independent study or honors project.

the four levels of UCLA capstone options