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The Capstone Project is a key aspect of Fletcher’s master’s degree programs, offering students the opportunity to produce a substantial piece of work examining a multidimensional international issue. This exercise allows students to build a real depth of knowledge in a particular area of focus. Capstone Projects can be designed for practical application, and thus can serve as a strong bridge to the job search process.  

The detailed requirements for any Capstone Project are determined after consultation with the Capstone Coordinator and supervising faculty member and can take a wide range of formats, including, but not limited to: 

  • A traditional academic research thesis (25-40 pages in length)
  • A policy paper (for example, for a government, an NGO, or an international organization, whether or not for an actual client) 
  • An operational plan (for example, in development, business, public diplomacy)
  • A case study
  • A business plan

In general, most GMAP students choose the thesis option for their capstone project. The GMAP Capstone Coordinator works with GMAP students throughout their year to facilitate the preparation process and discuss requirements and topic ideas. In addition to submission of the written capstone, students also complete an oral defense of their capstone. Each capstone defense lasts 35 minutes, and includes a 10 minute presentation on the thesis by the student, 20 minutes of question and answer by the faculty advisor and classmates, and 5 minutes for private feedback between the faculty advisor and the student. August start students complete their oral defense of their capstone in person at the July residency at The Fletcher School, and January start (midyear students) complete their oral defense in person or over Skype at the subsequent January international residency. 

  • Past GMAP thesis topics: 
  • How the Digital Tools in the 21st Century Have Advanced the Use of Disinformation
  • The Rise of China - Soft Power & Global Ambition: The Case of China's Growing Reach in Europe
  • The Role of Fintech in Advancing Financial Sector Development in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Indonesia's Twenty-Year Journey as a Democracy: Lessons for Countries in Democratic Transition
  • Revisiting the String of Pearls Theory: Through the Lenses of Soft Power Projection, with Chinese Characteristics
  • The Paris Agreement: Is There Hope for Small Island Developing States?
  • The role of business in international peace negotiations: strategy, power and influence: Evidence from business networks in the Middle East and Cyprus peace processes