The Capstone is designed to encourage the integration of course work in the program and comes at the end of a student’s MLA career. The student works with the Associate Program chair to determine the best option for that student’s needs and goals. The MLA is more than just a string of courses and the Capstone is design to help students integrate the graduate experience in a meaningful and thoughtful way. The graduate projects and portfolios on file in the office and students are encouraged to make an appointment to come by to see what others have done.

The MLA Program offers two basic options for the Capstone: Portfolio and Graduate Project

Please start thinking about the Capstone before it is time to register. You must have the permission of the Associate Chair in order to register for either of the options. Approval will only be given for the Graduate Project if the student has completed the contract, proposal, and has an advisor. This should be done in the semester preceding the actual course work. For the Portfolio, the student needs to meet with the Associate Program Chair in the semester preceding the Portfolio completion. Both options have deadlines that students must meet in order to graduate on time. Please make sure that if you are working with an Advisor that you have established a schedule and stick with the deadlines.

What option is best for you? Students should consult with the Associate Program Chair to determine the best option for the Capstone. For some students, taking a tenth course is important for either professional reasons or for additional personal enrichment in a particular area of study. The Portfolio option allows the student to take a 10th course but also provides for an integration of the courses and approaches. For the Graduate Project, the student works with a Johns Hopkins faculty advisor to produce a piece of independent research that integrates the educational experience of the student.

The Portfolio

The Liberal Arts Portfolio (450:082) is an option within the MLA Capstone. Students who select the Portfolio option will take ten courses in the program. The Portfolio will be completed within the same semester as the tenth course, and for students not selecting a graduate project, the Portfolio is a degree requirement.  The Associate Chair serves as the Portfolio Advisor.

The portfolio consists of a sampling of the most representative papers and projects written over the course of the student’s graduate career. It is not simply a collection of papers but designed to help students see how all aspects of the program are interconnected. It is also provides a travel log chronicling the student’s development of their own “way of knowing,” their own approach to knowledge. The goal is self-reflection as the student considers intellectual, and perhaps emotional, growth.  Portfolios can have a practical application in areas of certification, professionalization, or a change in professional direction. The papers/projects submitted should come from at least three different areas of the liberal arts (i.e., music, literature, history, political science, interdisciplinary studies).

Graduate Project

The Graduate Project allows the student to conclude the MLA degree by writing in an area of special interest, independent of a course structure, and under the guidance of a faculty member. The graduate project is interdisciplinary in scope and reflects an emphasis or interest that a student has discovered through the MLA program. The project provides the opportunity for the student to apply the concepts and knowledge gained through the program to an independent project of his/her design. The project should be thirty to fifty pages and can include tapes, slides, and other materials. The final project is generally in the form of a research paper. Within the Graduate Project, there are also limited opportunities for doing an Internship.