Capstone Experience

Note: all students must gain permission of instructor in order to register for the Capstone Class. Please use the Class Permission Class Permission Form. The Class Number is BIOL5050 (include the section number), and the Class Title is Capstone.

The Capstone

The capstone experience requirement of General Education in Biological Sciences can be met through one of the following options: a research option; a capstone course; a capstone field trip; a senior or honors thesis; assistant TA; or an equivalent experience (approved by petition to the Capstone Committee). The capstone can be used to simultaneously fulfill another biology major requirement (lecture or lab). Students should note that not all courses and undergraduate research credits are considered to be capstone. Courses which can be used to fulfill the capstone are marked in the list of department courses. In addition, the student should notify the professor that they intend to take the class as their capstone, as the number of "capstone seats" in these courses will be limited. Undergraduate research options to be used as the capstone requirement must be approved by the capstone committee prior to initiation. It is expected that the capstone requirement will be completed during the student's senior year, or, in the case of summer field trips, between the junior and senior years.

Capstone Options

  1. Research Options:
    1. Undergraduate Research (minimum of three credit hours), resulting in a paper and an oral presentation.
    2. Departmental Honors Research (which already requires a paper and presentation).
  2. Course Options: Current upper division courses may be designated as a "Capstone Course". Students using such a course to fulfill their capstone experience will be expected write a paper and give a presentation. Capstone courses may be a lecture course, laboratory course, or field course.
  3. Field Trip Option: Participation in one of several focused field trip courses such as the Montana-Yellowstone environmental study, the Maine aquaculture study, and the Yellowstone Thermophiles field trip. Such courses will require the writing of a paper based on the field work.
  4. Assistant TA (ATA): A student participating as an assistant TA may use that as a capstone experience if he/she prepares and presents at least one laboratory lesson to the class.

Capstone Course Number

A capstone course number, Biology 5050, has been established for 1 cr. with section numbers for each faculty member. Students fulfilling the capstone experience will register for the course one quarter of their senior year as a tracking mechanism. The course will be graded Pass/Fail.

Capstone Committee

The Undergraduate Affairs Committee will serve as the capstone committee. The committee will identify and assist faculty in the development of capstone courses (based on UC General Education guidelines). This committee or their designate will be responsible for certifying that each undergraduate has completed the requirement for graduation.


Faculty directing the capstone experience should submit a brief note to the Capstone Committee indicating the student(s) that will be completing the capstone requirement under their direction and which option the student has chosen to fulfill this requirement. He/she will so inform the Capstone Committee when the capstone experience has been completed by the student.


All faculty advisors will need to file an assessment form to complete the capstone. This instrument is designed to assess the effectiveness of the General Education program -” not the individual student. The assessment will evaluate whether the student has demonstrated the competencies learned in the General Education Program.