Capstone Client FAQ

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.


Capstone is learning in action. Part of the core curriculum of the Master's 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 comprise 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.

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What is the program timeline for the 2024-25 application cycle? 


March 19, 2024 RFP process begins. All organizations interested in a Capstone project must submit a Capstone proposal online by the deadline.
May 31, 2024 Deadline for proposal submissions.
June - July Proposals are vetted and distributed to Capstone faculty for review.
July - August Faculty 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 Prospective clients are notified if their proposals have been chosen to move on to the next phase of the selection process.
September 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 Breakfast meeting for all Capstone clients.
April-May 2025 Capstone projects conclude with client presentations.


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A Capstone team may conduct a literature review, perform an environmental scan, develop an operational framework to streamline workflow, develop a financial model, or put forth policy recommendations, among other things, culminating in a final report and presentation. 

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The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the 2024-2025 academic year opened on March 19, 2024.

The application deadline for the 2024-2025 academic year is Friday, May 31, 2024.


Prospective Capstone clients respond to a request for proposals (RFP) in the spring by submitting their applications through our online portal. All proposals are vetted by Wagner administration and viable projects are offered to Capstone faculty for comment and selection.

At the start of the fall semester, Capstone faculty present a slate of possible projects to students in their section and, based primarily on student preferences, faculty assign students to projects in teams of three to five students.

For more information about the Capstone program RFP and resources for prospective Capstone clients, please visit the Capstone for Employers website

Each student team will develop and negotiate a scope-of-work agreement with the client once its proposal has been selected. The project team will use its 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. The client agrees to provide the assistance and access to information necessary for the Capstone team to perform effectively.

You 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.

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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. Your application will be reviewed on its merits, not your organization's ability to pay. If your project is selected by a team of students, you will receive further communication about the fee at that time. For clients located outside of NYC that require overnight stays to conduct research, NYU Wagner will consider the provision of travel and accommodations in lieu of the engagement fee.

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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.

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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 respective classes at the start of the academic year, and the students rank projects by their interest level. Clients are then notified whether their projects have been chosen by a Capstone Team.

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We receive more proposals than we have student teams. As a result, there is no guarantee that a proposal will be chosen by a student team. However, if your project is not chosen, you will be given the opportunity to convert the project into an internship opportunity for Wagner students.

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All Capstone clients must designate one person in their agency who will act as the project liaison and a back-up person in case of a change in circumstances that prevents the original liaison from continuing in the role. 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.

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Selected Capstone clients are invited to attend a Capstone Client Breakfast meeting in October. Each Capstone Team will be required to write an abstract summarizing the project's purpose, methodology, key insights and recommendations, which is published in the annual Capstone Booklet.

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The final work product is typically owned by the Capstone client organization. However, if chosen as a client, you agree that Capstone students retain the right to summarize the work produced for their Capstone client in pursuit of their educational and/or professional careers. Furthermore, you agree that NYU Wagner may publicly list the organization as a Capstone client, use the client's logo in outreach materials, keep copies of all Capstone teams' final reports for internal administrative purposes, and include a brief project description in its Capstone promotional materials.

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Students in international specializations across the degree programs are given the opportunity to travel to conduct intensive field work for an outside organization. International site visits typically take place during the students' winter break during late December to late January (their January intercession) when they are not in class.

Through the unique summer-fall Capstone offering, when it is offered, students begin Capstone in the summer, complete 3-4 weeks of field work throughout June-August, and return to New York for the fall semester. 

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.