Capstones in professional masters-level programs serve a unique nexus of developing professional, industry-speciﬁc competencies within a graduate-level academic setting. Universities oﬀering such degree programs must demonstrate the beneﬁts of an academic approach to working professionals, while focusing on the development or enhancement of a wide range of hard and soft skills required by industries and employers in the field of study. In this paper we highlight the capstone project model used in an online geospatial professional program in which students apply a wide range of technical skills as well as enhance their soft skills through problem-based projects. These projects include advisement from graduate faculty, rigorous project planning to ensure the work is integrated with and builds upon the leading edge of applied research, and include numerous cycles of revision based on feedback from faculty, fellow students, and peers in the industry. We examined completed capstone projects and surveyed past students to evaluate how relevant the capstone experience was in developing geospatial competencies. The learning model presented here is ﬂexible and highly applicable for enhancing industry competencies for working professional students not only by providing students with the opportunity to develop research-led projects, but also for the educational institution to adjust to changing demands.
- capstone project
- geospatial industry competencies
- online graduate education
- Problem-based learning
- research-led academic inquiry