Capstone Seminar

The capstone is an opportunity for students to use the tools they have acquired during the program to solve a problem related to politics, policy or governance. Students will perform an original data analysis, develop actionable recommendations and present their findings.

The capstone project is the culmination of the MS in Government Analytics. Through the process of developing the capstone, students will identify a problem related to politics, policy or governance and perform an original data analysis to address this problem. The process requires that students become both substantive and methodological experts in specific areas of analysis. The ultimate goal of this endeavor is to develop an empirically-informed, feasible solution to a real-world problem.


For the capstone project, students complete an article-length research paper that includes an original data analysis and recommendations. Students may either draw upon the massive amount of existing data provided by government agencies and private organizations or collect an original data set. The method of analysis used must be appropriate for the research question developed by the student. There are many data repositories students can use for their capstones. Below are some examples:

Students are also encouraged to collect their own data, such as by converting textual information into quantitative data or conducting an original survey. The final paper should be 25-30 pages in length (double-spaced), employ footnotes for citations and be accompanied by a complete list references cited and consulted. Students may also use an appendix as a means of including additional tables/graphs and extended discussions of the data or methodologies used.

Structure and References

The capstone should have the following components:

  1. Front Matter
    • a. Title page
    • b. Abstract (150 words)
    • d. Table of Contents
  2. Text
    • a. Introduction (2-3 pages)
    • b. Literature Review and Theoretical Framework (5-7 pages)
    • c. Data and Methods (2-4 pages)
    • d. Results (8-10 pages)
    • e. Conclusion (2-3 pages)
  3. Back Matter
    • a. References
    • b. Appendices
    • c. Curriculum Vita

Details about each of these sections will be provided in the capstone seminar.

For citations, students should use the Chicago Manual of Style (notes/bibliography style). The following are useful writing references:

  • Turabian, Kate. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Seventh Edition, Chicago Style for Students and Researchers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.
  • Strunk, William. The Elements of Style. Pearson, 2014.

Capstone Seminar

Students complete the capstone project in 470.862 Capstone for Government Analytics. This course should be taken in a student’s final (or penultimate) term. It is recommended that students begin the course with a research question in mind.

If students are unable to complete the capstone in their final term, they must enroll in 470.861 Capstone Continuation in every subsequent term until the capstone is submitted and approved. The continuation fee is currently $500 per term. Continuation students work with Dr. Jennifer Bachner ( to complete their capstone.


Students who earn a grade of A- or better in all their coursework and complete all their degree requirements will graduate cum laude. Students who earn a grade of A- or better in all their coursework and earn an A- or better on their capstone will graduate magna cum laude. Students who earn an A or better on all their coursework and an A or better on their capstone will graduate summa cum laude.

Please note that these honors are awarded by the Government Analytics program and do not appear on the student’s transcript or diploma. These program-based honors are recognized at the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies Awards Ceremony (not at the KSAS Graduation Ceremony).


Students will submit their final capstone to their instructor for 470.862 Capstone for Government Analytics.

In addition, students are strongly encouraged to submit their capstone to the Government Analytics page of the Johns Hopkins Library JScholarship site. Details about how to submit the capstone to this page are provided in the capstone seminar.