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Honors Capstone

The Honors College

What is an Honors Capstone?

The University of Wyoming Honors Capstone (previously referred to as the senior thesis) is an independent or collaborative undertaking involving research or creative work that represents the culmination of your undergraduate studies. The Honors Capstone experience is completed under the direction of a faculty mentor and may build on work in your major/ minor but does NOT have to be related to your major or minor.

Honors Capstones can take many different forms. They can present a hypothesis or assertion that is then tested, analyzed and evaluated according to the methods of an academic discipline or multiple disciplines. These research-based capstones investigate the previous research on a topic, and, importantly, also include your original research, insights, and contributions to the topic.

Other capstones are based in various creative and expressive modes of representation and are less dependent upon original academic research. Students with expertise in art, music, new media, theatre, dance, and creative writing often find this approach more in line with their own interests, aptitudes, and expectations within their majors.

Honors students have created paintings, composed music, written novels, made clothing, directed plays, and engaged in many other creative endeavors to fulfill the capstone requirement. Capstone projects may also involve entrepreneurship or invention or something we might not have imagined!

All creative capstone projects should include a written piece, known as a critical reflection, that accompanies the creative work. The reflection contextualizes one’s creative work, discusses related research, and describes its scholarly content.

We encourage students considering the creative option to meet with the Honors Coordinators and/or the Honors College Associate Dean or Dean for more specific guidance.


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Honors Capstone Requirements

The Honors Capstone, completed under the direction of a faculty mentor, includes three key components:

1) an Honors Capstone project--a body of work which demonstrates a deep understanding of a research or creative topic

2) an oral presentation on your project that is delivered at an Honors-approved venue

3) uploading your project to the University of Wyoming Honors Repository (if your work contains proprietary information or is under peer-review, you can apply to be exempted from publishing in the Honors Repository). The UW Libraries provides Information and Guidance on publishing your work in the Honors Repository.

Your Honors Capstone should demonstrate your ability to:

  • complete a significant independent or collaborative project

  • locate and evaluate information

  • think critically and communicate your ideas effectively

  • situate your work in the appropriate critical, creative, and ethical conversations

  • display a high level of knowledge, creativity and intellectual ability in a specific area (usually related to your major)


Completing an Honors Capstone in conjunction with other programs

Some undergraduate majors require a capstone experience that may also fulfill the Honors Capstone requirement. In addition, some undergraduate research programs will also fulfill the Honors Capstone requirements. If you have questions about whether you could fulfill your Honors Capstone in your major, please contact the Honors Capstone Coordinators, Dr. Joslyn Cassady and Dr. Thomas Grant, at For more information on a few specific programs see the links below:

Completed Honors Capstone projects by former students

Former Honors students have submitted their final Honors Capstone projects to the Honors Repository. You may read their work by searching the archives of the Honors Repository.

The Honors Repository has presentations of a few 2020-2021 Honors Capstones, including the work of KarolinaJaynie, and James. Click on each of these students' names and look for the presentation link on the left hand column. Addtionaly, watch the videos below to hear past students reflect about the value of their Honors Capstone experience. 




Getting Started

To begin your Honors Capstone, start by thinking about your passions, interests, and professional goals. Remember that the people best able to help you conceptualize a capstone project are faculty members in those disciplines related to your project ideas or interests. It is a great idea to reach out to faculty members for ideas as you begin to consider Honors capstone topics and identify a faculty mentor.

If you need help with identifying a project or faculty mentor, please contact the Honors Capstone Coordinators, Dr. Joslyn Cassady and Dr. Thomas Grant, at   

Frequently Asked Questions

Once a faculty mentor has agreed to work with you, you must complete the Honors Capstone Initiation- Student Portion. This declares your intention to complete an Honors Capstone, describes the project, and identifies your faculty mentor.  Watch for emails from the Honors Capstone Coordinators for deadline announcements. 

In close collaboration with your mentor, prepare a literature review and project proposal. This proposal should identify your question/problem, place it in the critical, scientific or creative conversation, state your methodology, outline the project, and provide a calendar for the completion of its various stages.

No, you may work with any UW faculty member who has agreed to oversee your research/creative/innovative work. If you are enrolled in a major (eg., engineering, education, nursing, music, statistics, international studies and others) that has a required capstone or senior design project, the instructor for the course may likely be your faculty mentor. Please contact the Honors Capstone Coordinator to discuss.  

Your faculty mentor also needs to complete a short form called the Honors Capstone Initiation Faculty Form

No, you don’t need to sign up for a class to complete the Honors Capstone. 

We do offer an independent study if you need additional upper division elective hours to graduate, if you need additional hours to be a fulltime student in any given semester, or if you feel you need the structure to help you complete your project, but it is not required that you take those hours.  You can take up to 3 credit hours of an Honors independent study per semester for up to a total of 6 hours overall.  Remember that these hours will count as upper division electives but do not meet any specific requirements towards your degree or your Honors minor. 

If your catalog year is 2016, you are under the 2015 University Studies Program Requirements (which took effect Fall 2015 and apply to all students who were admitted in or after that term.)  Therefore, students with this catalog year who wish to enroll in an independent study for the senior thesis should enroll in HP 4976.  

  • HP 4975: Sign up for 3 credits of this class and your project can be used to meet your WC requirement under the University Studies Program 2003.

  • HP 4976: Register for 1 to 3 credits of upper division credit.  Please note that this course does not meet the COM3 requirement under the University Studies Program 2015.

If you wish to register for HP 4975 or HP 4976, you must ask your faculty mentor overseeing your Honors Capstone to be the instructor of record for the independent study. Your faculty mentor will evaluate your progress and submit a final grade for the course.

If your faculty mentor agrees to be the instructor of record, please contact Jeanette Lamb at and with the following information: Your name, email address, W#, faculty mentor’s name, course number, and number of credits.

You will notice by perusing the Honors Capstones in the Repository that capstone projects range in length, and there is no definitive answer to “how long does an Honors capstone have to be?” The best way to identify an appropriate length for your capstone project is to discuss with your faculty mentor. Whatever the project’s precise length, we expect that it will be substantial in terms of your commitment and your educational development.

Yes! Dean Parolin manages a scholarship fund to help offset research costs associated with the Honors Capstone.  Please consider completing an Honors College Grant Application. Read the application directions carefully. You will complete the top half, and your faculty mentor will complete the bottom and then submit to the Honors College. Priority will be given to students who don't have other sources of funding.  

If you have a capstone project idea that would involve human subject research, your faculty mentor will likely have to submit an IRB (Institutional Review Board) application on your behalf before any research begins. This application process is routinely completed by faculty and Honors students. Contact the Honors Capstone Coordinators, Dr. Joslyn Cassady and Dr. Thomas Grant, at and review the UW IRB Guidelines.


The Honors College supports collaboration and will accept proposals for collaborative projects under the following guidelines:

  • There is a strong rationale for a capstone to be collaborative

  • The students, the faculty mentor, and Capstone Coordinator meet prior to the start of the capstone work to discuss the structure of the project

  • It must be clear, in writing and from the outset, who is responsible for what part(s) of the project

  • Each student, after the completion of the capstone project, produces a reflection on the nature of the collaboration: how it worked and what was valuable

  • Each student gives an oral presentation on the project that highlights their individual contribution to the project

  • Work done by the group should be appropriately cited

Deciding to undertake the Honors Capstone process is a commitment to a significant amount of work, but there are important benefits to consider:     

  • An opportunity to explore, research, and create something that interests you

  • Gaining/honing a particular body of knowledge or skill set

  • Gaining experience in your public presentation and speaking abilities

  • Opportunity to reflection on and synthesize your undergraduate years of intellectual and personal growth

  • Development of professional relationships with a faculty mentor

  • Demonstration of academic motivation and intellectual specialization through a project to showcase to graduate programs or employers

  • Strong sense of accomplishment on having completed a significant research, creative or entrepreneurial project

  • Honors distinction that is recorded on your transcript as an Honors Minor

You may contact the Honors Capstone Coordinators, Dr. Joslyn Cassady and Dr. Thomas Grant, at   

Contact Us

The Honors College

Guthrie House

1200 Ivinson St.

Laramie, WY 82070

Phone: 307-766-4110

Fax: 307-766-4298


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