Description of the Thesis, First Author Manuscript, and Capstone

Below are general descriptions of each of the three types of projects. Please read the Culminating Experience Guide on Blackboard for all details regarding the Culminating Experience.

Master’s Thesis

The goal of the Thesis is to advance or create new knowledge to an existing body of research. The student develops a research question and a hypothesis based on previous research on the topic. The student gathers data (either through primary or secondary data collection) and analyzes the data, usually with statistical analysis software, such as SAS or SPSS. The findings are then discussed as to whether or not they support the hypothesis. The study should be designed so that the results of the analysis are generalizable to a larger population, rather than the sample used in the student’s data analysis.

First Author Manuscript

The First Author Manuscript must be written in publishable format for a selected scholarly journal. Students meet with their Specialty Track Advisor and Culminating Experience ISMMS Faculty Advisor to determine which journal is most appropriate for their topic. The format of the paper is based on the formatting guidelines for submission as outlined by the selected journal.


This scholarly project is much more applied in nature. The Capstone is a scholarly project developed for and with consultation of a public health organization or community agency. Generally, the capstone builds directly upon the Applied Practice Experience (formerly known as the Practicum experience) in that the student produces a deliverable based on the needs of the Applied Practice Experience site. The Capstone can take on several forms, including:

  • Community Needs Assessment

  • Public Health Program Plan

  • Program Evaluation

  • Training Manual

  • Policy Analysis

  • Systematic Literature Review

  • Grant Proposal

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