MPA Capstone

The PA 590 Capstone Course provides MPA students with a practical, team-based experience in problem-solving within public or nonprofit organizations. This course requires students to integrate classroom learning with practical experience, and must be taken during the last two semesters in the MPA program.

The course requires each student to work in a team of 3-4 students to analyze an organizational or policy problem and to deliver a professional report to the sponsoring organization that typically specifies the problem or task, defines alternatives, and proposes a recommended course of action. Government, community, and nonprofit organizations work with the PA program to identify relevant projects that challenge students and serve agency goals.

Students apply knowledge, skills, and competencies gained from core and elective courses in the MPA program to these practical public policy or management problems. This course also provides students with new knowledge about effective management of teams, negotiation skills, project planning and monitoring, and professional presentation skills. Students are responsible for negotiating project scope, determining project plans and scheduling, and researching and writing deliverables (reports and presentations). The final report is presented to the sponsor and the course instructor.

  1. Capstone team members Joe Harney (2nd from left), Sean Keane (3rd from left), Veronica Prince (2nd from right) and Debra Williams (on the right) with Pace Director of Marketing, Doug Sullivan. The capstone team provided Pace with an projection of the demand for paratransit services over the next five years and the associated costs.
  2. Capstone team members Madeline Wilcox (2nd from left), Iavora Vlaycheva (2nd from right), and Aaron Maertins (on the right) with UIC Vice Chancellor for Sustainability, Cynthia Klein-Banai. The capstone team administered a survey designed to learn about the commuting habits of UIC students, faculty and staff.
  3. Capstone team members Saman Shafiq (3rd from left), Heather Nichols (2nd from right), and Maria Romero (on the right) with members of the staff and board of the Chicago Collections Consortium. The capstone team helped the Consortium design a new membership fee structure.
  4. Capstone team members Alice Mwinzi (on the left), Susana Estrada (2nd from left), and Max Dulberger (on the right) with Megan Fulara, Assistant City Administrator, City of Crest Hill. The capstone team helped the City survey the wellness preferences of its employees.
  5. Capstone team members Agi Snopek, (2nd from left), Seth Appau (in the middle), Laura Cortes (2nd from right) and Diogenes Rojas-Silvestre (on the right) with Paul Gorski, Director of Clinical Services for UI Health. The capstone team analyzed the costs and benefits of moving selected hand surgeries from the operating room to an outpatient clinic.
  6. Capstone team members Dara Mamora (on the left), Casey Jones (2nd from the left), and Heather O’Leary (2nd from right) with Meida McNeal, Arts & Culture Manager for the Chicago Parks District. The capstone team analyzed enrollment patterns for courses offered by the Parks District at its 15 Cultural Centers.
  7. Capstone team members Kat Kernick (2nd from left), Tassany Campbell-Williams (2nd from right), and Sameer Mujtaba (on the right) with Margaret LaRaviere, Director of the Cook County Bureau of Adoption and Family Support Services. The capstone team analyzed ways of shortening the process of preparing home visit reports.

Comments by Clients

chicago collections logo

“It was a pleasure to participate in the UIC Capstone project. The students were consistently well prepared and interested in the topic. Their research and findings will be a useful tool for our organization.”

Chicago Collections
City of Crest Hill Illinois

“The work these students produced by far exceeded what I could have produced given the many time constraints. I sincerely appreciate the caliber of their work and the professionalism they gave to this project.”

City of Crest Hill Illinois

Submit a Capstone Project!

The MPA program is always looking for new agencies with which it can partner on Capstone projects.  Project proposals are generally accepted up to six weeks in advance of the spring (January start date) and the fall (August start date) semesters. If you have a project-worthy proposal and want to take advantage of graduate student skill and collaboration, contact Prof. James Thompson at

Step 1: Download the Request for Proposal. The RFP provides information about the Capstone course and what you can expect from our student “consultants”.

Step 2:  Download the Capstone Application.

Step 3: Print out the forms and scan or E-mail the completed application and RFP forms to Prof. James Thompson at