Senior capstone course

The capstone course provides a culminating, integrative curricular experience for students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Public Health program. The course draws on students' prior training in the five core areas of public health at Wayne State:

  • Social and behavioral aspects of health
  • Public health policy and practice
  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Research methods

In addition to incorporating elective coursework in areas of students' choice and real-world experience gained in the field. More than just providing a review of the curriculum, however, the capstone course is designed to give students a chance to link up with an individual mentor to further challenge students to reflect and integrate their training and experience with the goal of developing their own individual point of view regarding the role of public health in contributing to the improvement of the health and well-being of populations in the United States, as well as abroad. During the semester students will complete a mentored and individualized capstone project, as well as a final project presentation.


Because the capstone course pulls together the training students have received in prior coursework and field experience, it provides the opportunity to round out the development of the full set of competencies viewed as essential for bachelors-prepared graduates in public health. Therefore, this course is structured so that students may reach the following learning outcomes:

  • Evaluate major concepts and arguments within a core area of public health knowledge (i.e., social and behavioral aspects of health, public health policy and practice, biostatistics, epidemiology and research methods).
  • Apply concepts and arguments from one core area of public health to a real-world, public health context.
  • Demonstrate the ability to independently gather and analyze data related to public health topics (i.e., through a literature review, policy review, practicum-related project or faculty-mentored research).
  • Assess how core competencies in public health match with public health practice and/or research careers, including how they intersect with your own career goals.
  • Effectively communicate the results of public health research to varied and specific audiences, by written, visual and oral means.


  • What is the purpose of the capstone course?

    The main purpose is to provide a culminating, integrative curricular experience for students enrolled in WSU's bachelor's program in public health. The course will utilize students' prior training in the five core areas of public health at WSU (social and behavioral aspects of health, public health policy and practice, biostatistics, epidemiology and research methods), as well as elective coursework in areas of students' choice and "real world" experience gained in the practicum.

  • What is the nature of the capstone? What do we do in a capstone?

    Each student will individually identify a project that can and MUST be completed in one semester and complete that project. Beginning in spring/summer 2018, in order to optimize the student's public health experience in our program, it is strongly recommended that the project is related to students' practicum experiences in PH 4100/4150 in some way. Your project (most often a literature review) will result in a paper that is due at the end of the semester. Students will also create a final poster presentation from their projects.

  • Does the capstone project have to be connected to my practicum experience or site?

    We prefer that you pick a project that builds on, in some way, the practicum experience. This can happen in several ways. For example, if you are still involved with your practicum site and there is work left undone (e.g., outreach materials to be made or data analyses to be completed), you might continue with that work and write up a summary of those experiences or that work by the end of the semester.

    Alternatively, if you no longer have direct contact with your practicum site, you could consider doing a literature review on a topic connected to your practicum work. For example, was the focus of your practicum site children's health? Nutrition? Vaccinations? Infant mortality? HIV/AIDS prevention? Homelessness? Practicum-related projects are varied and we will help you think about the best options for practicum-related projects.

  • I don't want to do my capstone at my practicum site. Are there any other options?

    You do not have to be and most likely will not be, located at your practicum site to do your capstone project. Especially if you choose a literature review option, you do not have to maintain contact with your practicum site. It is not required, although it is strongly suggested that your research topic be related in some way to the focus of the practicum work. This will allow you to build a portfolio of work in a particular area of public health before your graduation.

    If by chance, you really want to do a capstone project that is unrelated to your practicum experience, contact your academic advisor to discuss other options.

  • Is it a self-paced course? Or, do we have weekly class time?

    Yes, in many ways, this is a self-paced course. For the spring/summer 2018 term we will give you certain due dates for various parts of your paper/project, however, there are six mandatory class sessions during the fall 2018 semester. Please check for details. You will also be assigned a faculty mentor if you are completing a literature review project.

    You will be responsible for keeping in touch with your assigned mentor. If you are completing a practicum-related capstone project, then you may also keep in touch with your practicum site mentor. It's the student's responsibility to work with the instructor and their mentor to ensure the project is completed during the semester.

  • How should I be preparing for my capstone? How do you start a capstone project?

    Your initial step should be to narrow down your research/project topic. Think of all the health-related topics your practicum site was involved in and decide which one interested you the most. Then, think about what more you would like to know about that topic or issue. Narrow it down to a one-sentence question. This will form the basis of the proposal you will give us at the beginning of the semester.

  • What do the final paper and poster presentation consist of?

    The final paper will include, at a minimum, a title page, abstract, body of the paper, in-text citations and bibliography, and be double-spaced, with one-inch margins, in 12-point font. The style that must be used is APA and you are required to buy a short guide to APA style.

    The poster, due at the end of the semester, is based on your paper, 24 inches by 36 inches large and printed at Student Center Graphics. You will make a very brief presentation of your poster, as well.

  • What does the honors section entail?

    The honors capstone project requires an additional number of pages and references to be included in the final paper. If you areĀ  university honors or department honors student, then you should enroll in the honors section of PH 5100.

    Thehonors capstone project can double count as the university honors thesis.