The Marlboro Record

Capstone Projects solve real-world problems

For students in most of Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies master’s programs, Capstone Projects are the crowning achievement. Like the Plan of Concentration that is the culminating work of Marlboro undergraduates, Capstones integrate key concepts from students’ course of study and entail a substantial amount of work—more than 250 hours. But unlike Plans, which tend to focus on academic subjects, Capstones identify and respond to real-world opportunities. 

“What makes the Marlboro Capstone stand out is the element of passion,” said Beth Neher, Capstone coordinator and faculty for both the MA TESOL and Health Care Administration programs. “We encourage students to chose something that they feel passionate about, and help them find just the right project.”

Capstones are performed in collaboration with a client, either the student themself, their current employer, or another organization in need of their new expertise in organization, management, technology, or other valuable skills. For example, Philip Kolling MSM-MDO ’14 worked with SerVermont, the state commission that oversees the grantmaking process for AmeriCorps projects in Vermont, to develop an AmeriCorps alumni engagement strategy.

“I accomplished what I set out to do, and did so in a manner that is useful to SerVermont and realistic to implement,” said Philip. “Through my Marlboro experience I have also re-connected with my love of learning for both life and career. Hot off the Capstone experience, I have a confidence unlike any I have ever experienced before.”

“I go forward with a sense of internal joy about creating the life I desire in the professional world,” said Mary Ellen Britt MSM–HCA ’14, whose Capstone involved supporting community health networks for United Way of Windham County. “I feel released into my ability to create wholeness in my life, by designing my future in line with my passions.”

Some master’s students use the Capstone as an opportunity to launch their own entrepreneurial project, such as Claire Wheeler’s MBA ’14 project titled “Reclaiming Work to Build a World That Works.” She launched a consulting firm called Rework, which creates helpful systems, solutions, and strategies businesses that are reinventing a more restorative economy.

“By following our passion to meet a real community need we are more alive in our work, and in turn we are creating a world that is more alive,” said Claire (pictured, above). “Everything that I learned in this capstone process, and everything that I learned at Marlboro, not only gave me the skills to be able to do this work, but gave me the spirit to be able to hold it.”

“Another thing that makes the Marlboro Capstone special is that students have an hour-long retrospective with their advisor, program chair, and me, to talk in person about their learning, from the degree program as a whole and Capstone process,” said Beth. “What comes out of these is profound, not just about what knowledge students have gained but about who they are. It’s a deeply personal journey.”

Marlboro is happy to let Capstone students know if you have a problem or project that may be of interest to them. Please contact our Capstone coordinator.