Capstone Projects in Museum Studies

Kathy Jones"For me, teaching the capstone course is a treasure. From the time we discuss the topic to the final paper, I benefit from learning from my students. The diversity of the topics is amazing, allowing me to see the research across this wide spectrum and explore along with the student to this culmination of their academic journey."

— Katherine Burton Jones, Program Director, Museum Studies


The museum studies capstone is a student-directed independent project that you design with the support of your research advisor, Kathy Jones. You focus on a current issue or problem within the field that has become compelling for you during your course of study. The project is a vehicle to showcase your skills to current or future employers. You complete the work in a classroom setting with fellow degree candidates, all of whom are working towards the same goal.

To support your work in the capstone course, you may opt to be assigned a content expert who is either a museum studies faculty member or a Harvard University museum professional. The selection of the content expert (mentor) is made in conversation with Kathy Jones.

Registration for the capstone is the same as a course, but your capstone topic and research plan must be approved a semester in advance, during the noncredit Capstone Tutorial.

Capstone Faculty

Kathy Jones, Director of the Museum Studies Program.

Course Sequencing and Timing

The semester prior to capstone enrollment (no earlier), you register for the noncredit precapstone tutorial, where you'll work one-on-one with Kathy Jones on your capstone research plan. The tutorial is not a course in the traditional sense. You work independently on your proposal with your research advisor by submitting multiple proposal drafts and scheduling individual appointments (ordinarily, between 9-5). You need to make independent progress on the proposal without special prompting from the research advisor.

You register for the tutorial in:

  • summer, if you plan to take the capstone in the fall
  • fall, if you plan to take the capstone in the spring

Visit the sidebar Precapstone Tutorial for specific research plan requirements and Timeline for mandatory proposal submission deadlines.

You enroll in the capstone course as your final, one-and-only course. Due to the heavy demands of the capstone it is considered a full-time course and you cannot be registered in any other courses. Moreover, all other degree requirements must be fulfilled in order for you to draw upon your entire ALM training to produce a final project worthy of a Harvard degree.

Summer option for International Students: In summer, the museum studies capstone is offered as an online independent study, primarily for international students who cannot travel to the US for the required on-campus weekend for the fall or spring offering. Precapstone tutorial registration is not required, but you need to submit the first draft of your capstone proposal to Kathy Jones by February 15.