Capstone Internship or Project
The Capstone internship or project is the culmination of the student’s graduate work, applying academic knowledge to practical experience. Please read below to learn more about the Capstone experience and its requirements.
Capstone Policy - POLT 908
All students matriculated in the UNH MPA Program are required to complete a “Capstone” experience during the final semesters in the program. The Capstone experience is designed to provide students with an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills developed in the program to real world situations.
The following policies and accompanying guidelines were adopted by the MPA faculty to ensure that the requirements for the Capstone course are applied in a consistent and equitable way.
The Capstone experience can take four forms depending on the (1) student’s background [pre-service, in-service] and (2) his or her projected career path [transitional, non-transitional]. Determination of each student’s Capstone requirements will be based on the following guidelines.
In-Service (3 credits)
In-service students are those who have served in a managerial capacity for a minimum of 2 years or in a supervisory capacity for a minimum of 4 years in a public organization or a private organization with substantial government or non profit interaction. Students seeking In-service designation must demonstrate that they have been responsible for a staff in their managerial/supervisory capacity and all of the functions this requires; or that the level of their work involved a degree of substantial responsibility for the functions of their agency.
There will be two designations for this category.
A. In-service – non transitional - These students meet the requirements detailed above and intend to remain in the same field upon completion of the MPA program. These students are exempt from the internship requirement and can complete a practicum as a 3 credit POLT 908A.
B. In-service – transitional – These students meet the requirements outlined above but are intending to make a transition to another field. These students can opt to take a 3 credit, 300 hour internship in the transitioning field in lieu of the 3 credit practicum and will sign up for POLT 908A.
Pre-Service (6 credits)
The Pre-service designation is for any student who does not meet the In-service standards detailed above. There will be two designations in this area.
A. Pre-service – limited or no experience – These students have limited to no experience in the public sector and will be required to take the 600 hour, 6 credit internship, POLT 908B.
B. Pre-service – experience – These students have worked for a minimum of three years in a full time role in the public sector or a private organization with substantial government or non profit interaction, but have limited experience serving in managerial or supervisory capacities These students will be required to complete a 300-hour internship as well as a modified practicum project designed to complement their internship assignment. This will be taken for 6 credit hours as POLT 908B.
Upon matriculation into the UNH MPA program, students are required to complete a “Determination of Capstone Status” advising form (DCS) with their program advisor. This form will determine the level of public service each student has completed and ensure their proper designation as pre/in-service as well as the relevant form of Capstone experience. This form allows the student to clearly outline their professional experience as well as their specific managerial experience. It should be completed and reviewed in consultation with the student’s advisor or the MPA Capstone Coordinator and placed in their student file.
Students are normally expected to have completed 24 credit hours toward their degree before enrolling in POLT 908A/B, and ideally they should have completed all other core course requirements. In the semester prior to enrollment in 908, eligible students are required to contact the MPA Capstone Coordinator who will review the DCS and develop a plan for the internship/practicum experience. Any change in the designation determined on the form is subject to review by the MPA Program Director and the MPA Committee.
Each internship and/practicum requires the active endorsement and participation of a “host” agency or organization. The student and host organization will complete an “Internship/Practicum Agreement” setting forth the requirements for the student internship/practicum assignment and addressing all of the expectations of the student, the host organization, and the Capstone Coordinator. This form is designed to ensure that the expectations for the internship/practicum are clear to all involved in order to assure a positive experience for all concerned.
The Capstone will also integrate classroom time that will require all students enrolled in POLT 908A and 908B during a specific semester to attend at least three workshop sessions during the semester. The meeting dates and requirements for these classroom sessions will be established and conducted by the designated MPA Capstone Coordinator. This Capstone class time will be devoted to integrative discussion about public administration and the knowledge students have obtained from their internship or practicum experience. In addition, it may include guest speakers from the field as well as training and development workshops.
The MPA program is working to develop a pool of organizations that may offer potential internship opportunities. This will provide students a starting point or initial contact when seeking out their internship opportunity. These opportunities will be posted online as they become available. Students are also encouraged to seek out additional internship opportunities. Students are responsible for identifying and proposing their own internships, but the determination of what is an acceptable internship assignment resides with the MPA Capstone Coordinator.
The MPA Capstone Coordinator has responsibility for all internships/practicum during an academic year from September through the summer terms. This coordinator will be responsible for securing the “Internship/Practicum Agreement,” managing reflective paper requirements, and any other issues that may arise. All student inquiries pertaining to Capstone should be directed to the Capstone Coordinator.
The Capstone Coordinators for the 2011-12 Academic Year are Jim Varn, MPA Director and Tama Andrews, Lecturer/Graduate Program Coordinator.
Please click on the links below to access the forms.