Document Type


Publication Date



Many MPA programs use capstone courses as culminating experiences to assess students’ capacity to apply program knowledge and skills to challenges facing public or nonprofit organizations. This paper examines whether capstone projects in one university’s MPA program were beneficial to organizational partners. Using data from a survey of capstone supervisors and 10 follow-up interviews, the paper finds that supervisor engagement, project location, and faculty involvement were significant factors in determining whether projects were beneficial to host organizations. The findings indicate that closer relationships among the three primary participants in capstone projects (student, supervisor, and instructor) will lead to more successful capstones for partner organizations. This study adds to our knowledge about how to structure effective capstone programs; it also suggests that community partners can be valuable sources of information in assessing the effectiveness of MPA programs.

Publisher Attribution

Campbell, D., & Lambright, K. (2011). How Valuable Are Capstone Projects for Community Organizations? Lessons from a Program Assessment. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 17(1), 61-87.

To access the full issue follow the link:



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.