Online MBA Programs are the epitome of advanced business education for multiple reasons. Not only will graduate business students get to do a deep dive into the foundational business topics that every leader needs to grasp, but they will also have hands-on experiences and projects. At the apex of this education and application is the Online MBA capstone project. We have already discussed what an Online MBA capstone project is, but now it’s time to dig deeper into the Online MBA capstone topic.
Yes, it is inevitable, and no matter your online program, there will be a Capstone at the end. Let’s put a few things into perspective and create a plan on how to move forward with picking a good topic for your Capstone project. You probably have heard it said repeatedly, but we must prepare in a time of peace for war. Let us not wait until we are near completion of an online MBA to start thinking about your Capstone project and area of focus. Whatever topic you choose, you must be prepared to sit with this project and its data for a long time and be ready to defend your ideas and other data-centered around your area of focus.
Thesis VS. Capstone
We must not be confused between a thesis and a capstone. Often we get these two words mixed up, so let’s take some time to clarify the difference between a thesis project and a capstone project. A thesis paper can be described as an extended academic essay challenging an intellectual idea or question. Within an online MBA program, a curriculum is created with practicum elements and internships where the student can get hands-on experience in the field. The capstone takes this idea to the next level, where the student has to be creative in solving real-world issues within the area and develop practical solutions. It is a project that can be tackled individually or in a group to bridge a myriad of concepts learned in an MBA and application in the real world. It is less about showing understanding of a problem or system but more about showing practical applications on how to lead and manage in the real world to solve modern business problems.
Be Passionate About Your Choice
The luxury of this part of your studies is that you can choose your Online MBA capstone topic. Let’s look at a few steps on topic selection that we learned with Douglas Brown:
- Make sure the Online MBA capstone topic is factual and deals with real-world problems a particular company has to deal with. What opportunity are you seizing?
- What will you do with the research? Will you present this to management, or will you use your findings to start your business?
- Does the capstone project demonstrate what you have learned? What were the core course lessons? Foundation & Concentration Courses; what lessons were known? Are they applicable to the capstone?
- Is it creative, novel, or innovative? Does this bring value to the business? Where is the value?
- Can you achieve it? What is the scope of the capstone project?
- Can you research it? Is there access to data? Is the topic researchable? Make sure you maintain the integrity and intent of your project and have confidentiality agreements readily available and non-disclosure agreements.
- Define what success looks like? Can you measure it? What are your financial and non-financial goals? Is there any analytical measurement within this project?
- Can you get an organization sponsor?
- IS THIS YOUR PASSION?
Format & Concentration
- Applied, Action-Focused Proposal (Any Concentration, Typically all but Entrepreneurship)
- Applied Business Plan – (Entrepreneurship and Marketing)
- Creative Formats Welcome (Consult with lead instructor)
Six Step Approach
- Pick an organization
- Identify a problem or opportunity
- Apply program content
- Define success
- Select measurement
Now begin brainstorming on a few topics. We would like for you to come up with your top topics. Once you have a solid topic come up with a brief topic statement about two sentences. Now that you have four topics that you are passionate about, let’s narrow this down to for top two. Now here is where you can do some field testing. Please post on your message boards for your program and even run them by your mentor or instructor. You possibly will have weekly assignments within your course to vet your top Online MBA capstone topics. Don’t be afraid of feedback!
Plan + Action = #SuccessOnPurpose
Write the vision of your capstone and make it plain. As you approach the semester before your Online MBA capstone, start thinking about what makes you passionate about your online MBA program and about your new area of work that you are soon to begin.
You can even find your dream company that you would like to work for. Look at their business structure/ model and learn all you can about them. Is there anything that you can pitch to a company you are interested in? Maybe you can seek a meeting with a leader in your current organization and cover a topic that helps efficiencies or effectiveness?
If you need to make a vision board, do so. We like for students to plan, especially when they do not have immediate deadlines. We do not want you to panic and make the wrong choice of topic for your capstone. Remember, this topic is something that you will make acquaintances with for months and many sleepless nights. Remember to put your passion at the forefront but not in the front of know-how.
Also, make sure you have a LinkedIn profile that is active and up to date. You can post your capstone project online. Your colleagues or acquaintances might be interested in your new findings and proposals.
Remember, you are not in this alone. You have a village that wants to see you succeed. Remember, self-care is the best care, and make sure to take some time out for yourself. You got this, and because you have taken the time to plan in a time of peace for war, half the battle is won!