Information for Prospective Capstone Clients

Capstone brings together teams of graduate students to address complex challenges and identify new opportunities for nonprofit, governmental, health-related, urban planning and international agencies. Project teams approach their assignments with initiative and professionalism. They organize and frame their projects into a thorough work plan that results in a carefully considered final product. Every team produces a written report and conducts a final presentation of their findings and recommendations.

Client FAQs

What is the Capstone Program? Who comprises a Capstone Team?

Capstone is learning in action. Part of the core curriculum of the Masters program at NYU Wagner, it provides students with both a critical learning experience and an opportunity to perform a public service. Over the course of an academic year, students work in teams – either to address challenges and identify opportunities for a client organization or to conduct research on a pressing social question. Ultimately, Capstone contributes not only to the students' education, but also to the public good.

Capstone teams are comprised of three to five NYU Wagner graduate students completing the last two semesters of their Master of Public Administration degree or their Master of Urban Planning degree. Students come to NYU Wagner with a wide variety of professional and educational backgrounds: They are seasoned professionals with years of public service behind them, recent college graduates committed to bettering the future or mid-career professionals who want to advance or shift their career paths. Yet for all their differences, they are united by the common desire to acquire the skills necessary to transform their personal commitment into public leadership.

What is the program timeline? 

  • March 2014: RFP process begins. All agencies interested in a Capstone project must submit a Capstone proposal online by June 13, 2014.
  • June 13, 2014: Deadline for proposal submission has been extended.
  • June 2014: Proposals are vetted and distributed to Capstone faculty for review.
  • June-August 2014: Faculty may reach out to prospective clients for clarification on the scope of projects and then select projects that will be presented to their classes.
  • Mid-August 2014: Prospective clients are notified if their proposals have been chosen to move on to the next phase of the selection process.
  • September 2014: Capstone projects are presented to students in their classes, and the students choose which projects they are interested in working on. Clients are notified whether their projects have been chosen or not.
  • October 2014: Breakfast meeting for all Capstone clients.
  • May 2015: Capstone projects conclude.
  • May 2015: Capstone Expo.

What types of projects have been done in the past?

Click here to review a sampling of past Capstone Projects.

How does my organization apply for a Capstone Team?

You must complete and submit a project proposal for consideration. Beginning in March 2014, proposals for the 2014-2015 academic year must be submitted online through the electronic application. 

When are the project proposals due?

For the 2014 - 2015 academic year, project proposals are due June 13, 2014. This deadline has been extended.

What can my organization expect from a Capstone Team? What will a Capstone Team expect of my organization?

All teams will develop and negotiate a scope-of-work agreement with their client once their proposal has been selected. Project teams will use their best efforts to perform the services described in the work plan and will inform the client of any potential problems which would change the scope of services. Client agencies agree to provide the assistance and access to information necessary for the Capstone Project team to perform effectively.

Organizations should also read our Mutual Expectations document, which explains the roles and expectations of the various project stakeholders – clients, students, faculty, and NYU Wagner – that are understood during a Capstone project.

Is there a fee associated with engaging a Capstone Team?

An engagement fee of $5,000 is suggested for chosen projects. NYU Wagner recognizes there will be organizations for which this fee may be prohibitive. In these cases, the fee may be adjusted to reflect the resources available to each agency.

For internationally-based clients, Wagner will consider the provision of accommodations and in-country support for a Capstone team in lieu of the engagement fee. Please note that international site visits should take place sometime between December 28, 2014 and January 25, 2015. (While projects are 8-months long, students are only available to travel overseas during their winter break).

For domestic clients outside of NYC that require overnight stays to conduct research, Wagner will consider the provision of accommodations in lieu of the engagement fee.

What makes a good Capstone Project?

The best Capstone proposals are important but not urgent; achievable within the academic time frame and with the resources available; provide a clear definition of the problem or issue to be addressed; have a realistic scope; and specify tangible deliverables for the Capstone team to provide. We look for organizations that have been operating for at least three years, have at least three full-time employees, and can offer a mutually beneficial opportunity for the agency and the student team.

What is the project proposal selection process?

Submitted proposals are first vetted for feasibility and fit within Capstone's guidelines and NYU Wagner's learning objectives and curricular areas of focus. Then, approved proposals are distributed to the Capstone faculty for review, who may contact prospective clients for clarification on the scope of projects. The faculty select projects that will be presented to their classes where the students choose which projects they are interested in working on. Clients are then notified whether their projects have been chosen by a Capstone Team.

If my organization applies for a Capstone Team, are we certain to get one?

We receive more proposals than we have student teams. As a result, there is no guarantee that a proposal will be chosen. However, some projects that have not been chosen for Capstone have been downsized and "chunked" in order to be converted into internship opportunities for Wagner students.

What is a project liaison? How much time should a project liaison expect to put towards a Capstone Team?

All Capstone clients must designate one person in their agency who will act as the project liaison. Project liaisons are expected to act as the main organizational contact to the Capstone Team and to respond to the Capstone Team as appropriate. The time that a Project Liaison will devote to the project will depend on the size and scope of the Capstone project as agreed to by both the organization and team.

If my project proposal is accepted, what formal Capstone client activities should I know about?

Capstone clients will have the opportunity to attend a Capstone breakfast meeting in October and our Capstone Expo in May. As part of the Capstone Expo, each Capstone Team will be required to write an abstract and create a visual presentation that describes the project's purpose, methodology, key insights and recommendations. 

Who owns the work produced by the Capstone team?

The final work product is owned by the Capstone client organization. However, NYU Wagner reserves the right to publicly list the organization as a Capstone client, to keep copies of all Capstone teams' final reports for review by the Wagner community, and to include a brief project description in Capstone promotional materials. Furthermore, students will be allowed to use the work produced for their Capstone client in pursuit of their educational or professional careers.

Who do I contact if I have any other questions?

Should you have any additional questions about the Capstone Program, please send an email to wagner.capstone@nyu.edu, or call 212-998-7474.