Is a Capstone Required for a Master’s in Organizational Behavior?

A Master’s in Organizational Behavior prepares graduates for the challenges of managing workplace dynamics. A final requirement of most programs is either a capstone project or thesis that showcases the skills that one has mastered throughout the graduate program. Some programs may allow candidates to opt for either one of these end-of-course projects, so it is important to know which requirement would be most beneficial, depending on one’s career track and options.

Related Resource: 50 Most Affordable Master’s in Organizational Behavior Degree Programs

Purpose of a Final Project

Successful completion of a culminating project demonstrates that the master’s degree candidate has learned the key skills that an organizational behavior specialist should have to manage the challenges of the job. In some ways, a capstone-based project would be a better culminating activity compared to a thesis, which is really more of a theoretical exploration of a problem or focus area in organizational behavior. The term is a reference to the final stone placed atop a monument, suggesting that this is the pinnacle of the academic program for those pursuing a Master’s in Organizational Behavior.

The final project will enhance expertise in a particular area since candidates for a master’s degree will examine the problem and provide workable solutions that may have to be field-tested as proof of mastery and competence.

Completing the Project

The process of completing the project is an opportunity for students to re-examine the concepts, principles, and practices in organizational behavior as they focus on addressing a real world issue using knowledge learned from the course. Unlike a thesis, a capstone is based on actual experience gained from an internship, externship, or similar on-the-job training in a work setting approved by program advisors. For those who are employed while completing their master’s, it is possible to prepare this project based on one’s actual job, provided candidates have gained prior approval from the school.

Graduate students will be asked to prepare a comprehensive project proposal, which will be reviewed by a professor or the advisor. The proposal should present the focus area, theories, review of literature, research methods, and alternative topics or approaches. The project can be presented as a case study or a program evaluation, both of which require a minimum amount of interactive time at the workplace to generate observations and other information needed to analyze the focus problem. Other formats include surveys, outcome-based program evaluations, focus group activities, or a synthesis and critical review of the internship/externship experience.

Candidates will develop competency in data-gathering, critical analysis, documentation, and presentation. In most cases, candidates have to present the completed project before an academic committee and prepare for an oral defense in front of the group.

Choosing the Best Culminating Project

The final project is a showcase of a student’s strengths as a specialist in organizational behavior. The process of completing this requirement will provide various opportunities to network with those who are already employed in this sector, as well as identify potential mentors. Additionally, note that the capstone project report becomes a permanent part of student records as well as the college’s collection of academic papers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a strong demand for organizational/industrial psychologists in the coming years with 14 percent growth between 2016 and 2026. Fulfilling the academic and technical requirements to earn a Master’s in Organizational Behavior shows commitment and professional competency while giving the graduate a competitive edge in this challenging field.