Data Science Capstone


This capstone course is the culmination of the Master of Liberal Arts, data science, where students execute their research proposal from CSCI S-597. It gives students the opportunity to collaborate on a complex research topic using their data science skills. At the completion of the capstone, students are able to demonstrate their ability to think critically about data, communicate with diverse audiences, and advance innovation in ways that benefit society.

Capstone Proposal Tutorial and Capstone Sequencing

The semester prior to capstone enrollment (no earlier), you register for the on-campus precapstone: CSCI E-597 Data Science Precapstone. Ordinarily the on-campus precapstone tutorial is offered during the three-week January session and one, three-week summer session.

The Precapstone prepares students to explore interdisciplinary research topics from a variety of industries and areas. Through workshops and collaborating with experts from different disciplines, students identify research topics, apply the appropriate data science methods, and use data to advance innovative solutions. Students receive guidance and advising to work effectively in teams, refine project proposals, and build the domain knowledge necessary in their selected area. By the end of the course, each team submits a detailed research proposal, including project rationale, methods, and expected outcomes, which they intend to execute during CSCI E-599a.

The semester right after the precapstone, you enroll in the online capstone, CSCI E-599a Data Science Capstone, as your final one-and-only course, either in the fall or the spring. Due to the heavy demands of the capstone, it is considered a full-time course.  All other degree requirements must be fulfilled so you can draw upon your entire ALM training to produce a final project worthy of a Harvard degree.

Sample Pathway

You need to complete 12 courses (48 credits) to earn the degree. 

  • You'll register for the precapstone in the summer as your 11th course. Then in the fall, you'll register for the capstone as your 12th and final course.


  • You'll register for the precapstone in the January term as your 11th course. Then in the spring, you'll register for the capstone as your 12th and final course.


Bruce Huang, EdD, PhD, Director of Master's Degree Program in Information Technology, Harvard Extension School