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Capstone / Thesis

The Capstone Project or Thesis is the culminating academic experience for the Master of Science in Nutrition graduate program. The scope and presentation of the project or thesis must demonstrate the student’s skills in a variety of areas including, formal academic/technical writing, the research process, and the application of nutrition principles in the public health arena. 

Students must complete a 3 to 6 credit hour capstone project or thesis to meet graduation requirements.  Although the goals of both a project and a thesis are similar, the processes, formats, and topics differ.  Please review the differences described in the Capstone/Thesis Handbook for the Masters of Science in Nutrition. 

If you elect to complete a thesis, talk with your faculty advisor. Your advisor can help you carefully weigh the additional work required for a thesis.  One elective that may be suggested is an advanced class is statistics to help with the analysis of your data. Also, if you opt to do a masters’ thesis, you must follow the university guidelines detailed in the ISU Thesis and Dissertation Handbook.

MS Nutrition Capstone / Thesis Handbook

Cover of the student handbook providing details about the master of nutrition capstone project and optional thesis

  • Please download the MS Nutrition Capstone/Thesis Handbook
  • Follow this guidance in planning and implementing your project/thesis
  • Read through it carefully and discus any concerns/questions with your faculty advisor

ISU Thesis and Dissertation Manual 2018 and Beyond Cover Page


If you opted for the MS in Nutrition thesis route:

Selecting a Capstone / Thesis Project

Pick a Topic

  • Is there an area that you have a great interest in/passion for?
  • Does the topic have practical value within the field?
  • Is it a topic of contemporary interest for the profession?

Do a Literature Search

  • Search the peer reviewed literature
  • Find out how much is already known about the topic
  • Is there a lack of research on the topic?
  • Identify gaps in knowledge—may be some listed in recommendations for further research provided in journal articles

Evaluate Your Choice of Topic

  • Has it been overdone? If there is lots of research that has already been done, pick another topic.
  • Is it doable in the timeframe? If too broad, how can you narrow it?
  • Do you have access to the population that you want to study?
  • Are you able to put personal bias aside and maintain the objectivity required of a researcher?