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What is the HTM Master’s Capstone Project?

November 28, 2016

By: Lori Sipe

The San Diego State University Hospitality & Tourism Management (HTM) Master’s Program is an 18-month journey that will make you a more confident, capable, and creative leader. The curriculum is personalized to your career goals and highlighted by a series of guest video lectures from globally accomplished leaders in hospitality.

To tie it all together, we conclude the program with what we call the Capstone Project, which is designed to provide a platform for you to be a true visionary and make a visible impact using the skills you’ve learned.

How the Capstone Project Works

The Capstone Project is the final class you take to reinforce the applied nature of the HTM Master’s Program readings, video lectures, and assignments. The objective is for you to design and implement an organizational change project for your organization.

During the Capstone Project, you lead a team of people within your company (and perhaps some people outside of your company, too) toward a defined goal. The project runs for 12-15 weeks, and you provide a weekly update on your progress, including any challenges, project management tools used, and deliverables. You receive feedback each week, alternating between faculty and peers.

To complete the Capstone Project, you compile the information into three different submissions: 1) an executive summary report, 2) a professional presentation, and 3) an online case study. All of the deliverables are created with an executive-level audience in mind.

Getting Inspired

When we say “organizational change,” we mean something that breaks the status quo in a positive way. Past students’ projects have included:

  • Improving company culture
  • Leading a marketing initiative
  • Fundraising
  • Creating a business plan
  • Developing new technology

More than an academic requirement, think of the Capstone Project as a tool to be responsible for implementing something new and successful in your workplace. It’s a chance for you to showcase your leadership and increase your promotability.

For those who might be looking to get a new job or change careers altogether, consider the Capstone Project as an express lane for you to head in the direction you want to go. And don’t worry, introverts, you don’t have to put yourself in the spotlight in front of your entire company for 12 weeks straight if you’re not comfortable doing so. Some students choose to work with an outside association and then present their information afterward. Plus, there’s plenty of comfort to take in the simple phrase, “This is a project for school.” 

Planning Your Project

Planning plays a huge role in your Capstone Project. The first two weeks are dedicated to creating a purpose, overview, and work plan. The Capstone also doubles as an exercise in applying the EDGE project management process reviewed in Week 1. EDGE stands for:

  • Examine
  • Dialogue
  • Go
  • Evaluate

While each project is unique, the EDGE process has proven appropriate for leaders in the hospitality and tourism context. As a professor, I will personally guide you through creating your pre-project documents, including a timeline through Week 12.

Why We Stand by the Capstone Project

Knowledge-based learning certainly has its place in grad school. However, as a program that centers more on aspirations and personal development, we believe in the power of action research. Action research is all about making improvements that simultaneously benefit the student, the group, and in our case, the organization.

The Capstone Project is more productive than a traditional thesis or research paper because it enables you to:

  • Step outside of your comfort zone
  • See change weekly
  • Stay engaged and on track
  • Adjust and adapt to new developments
  • Align the project to fit your schedule
  • Gain access to decision makers in your organization
  • Become a more confident leader

To learn more about the SDSU HTM Master’s curriculum, including the Capstone Project, click here. Prefer to get a better gauge on the program in general first? Here’s everything you need to know in 90 seconds or less.

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