Capstone Experience

To graduate, students must complete a capstone experience (or transfer in an equivalent) - either an internship, capstone project or research project. A capstone experience is one that integrates HSS major studies, and extends, critiques and applies knowledge gained throughout the program. Students typically complete the capstone experience in the final semester before graduation.

  • Most students complete an internship as their capstone experience.
  • Students who have at least one year of paid experience in healthcare or in a health-related organization may opt to complete a capstone project instead of an internship.
  • Occasionally a student with extensive healthcare experience may decide that their future goals are best supported by completing a research project.
  • For students who are accepted into the Audiology accelerated degree program, the clinical placements in that program serve as their capstone experience.
  • For students who qualify for the Clinical Practice in Health (CPH) track, they may be able to transfer clinical placement experience for their capstone experience.

Internship in healthcare services (HSV 4900)

Students completing an HSS internship integrate and apply their knowledge and abilities, as well as hone skills in preparation for employment or graduate study in a healthcare or health-related organization.

In the semester prior to the internship, students meet with the internship coordinator to establish an appropriate, supervised placement that will further their education and professional objectives. A minimum of 200 clock hours is required for internships (some internships require more). A classroom seminar accompanies the internship placement (HSV 4900). Before completing the internship application, please read the HHS Internship Placement Process.  Additionally, all hosting agencies must have an affiliation agreement in place with WMU in order for a student to complete his/her internship there. Please read the Student Internship Agency Affiliation Agreement Requirements.

Background check information

Some sites require pre-internship testing. Students may be responsible for paying for these tests. To process your self-initiated background check, review the background check information and instructions.

Internship requirements

  1. Students must complete all prerequisites before enrolling in any of the capstone courses.
  2. Apply to the internship program via the Intern Placement Tracking (IPT) system. Students must complete the application form and upload their resume and unofficial transcripts. See Application for Internship and Capstone Project below.
  3. Review the listing of internship site categories and list any placements they are interested in on their application.
  4. After the application is received, the student will meet with the internship coordinator to establish an appropriate, supervised placement that will further their education and professional objectives.

  5. Students must enroll in HSV 4900 and attend the internship seminar.

  6. Students engaged in an internship must give evidence of having health insurance at the time of course enrollment.

  7. WMU provides liability insurance coverage through a fee assessed at the time of enrollment in HSV 4900.

  8. Students must have the minimum of a 2.5 GPA to enroll in HSV 4900 and to complete an internship. If a student misses the minimum GPA, the student will be given one semester to achieve the 2.5 before taking the course. If a student is unable to achieve the 2.5 GPA in one semester, the student will be dismissed from the program barring hardship circumstances. If there are hardship circumstances, the internship coordinator, the program coordinator and the director of the School of Interdisciplinary Health Programs will review the case.

Students who are registered, certified or licensed healthcare professional, may pursue a clinical experience IF it exposes the student to the development of new skills, or is in a situation outside their usual employment.

 CAPSTONE PROJECT (HSV 4895)

The capstone project provides students an opportunity to design and complete a project in health services. Only students who have completed at least one year of employment at a healthcare or health-related organization and have successfully applied for this option may select it. Students must complete a capstone experience application following the date guidelines for all capstone experiences. Students complete the project over one semester, typically the student's final semester of his/her undergraduate career.

  • The capstone project requires the student to conceive, plan and implement a special project in an area within the scope of healthcare services and sciences. Students usually work on this project at their place of employment, but not always.
  • Capstone projects may take many different forms. Some examples are: patient satisfaction surveys in an applied setting, a written health literacy project, analysis of a health informatics system, clinical review of a therapeutic intervention, implementation of a quality improvement project, development of a patient manual or an educational program.
  • Students will work under the supervision of an HSS onsite capstone project instructor.
  • Enrollment in the capstone project course requires departmental approval from the HSS internship coordinator.
  • .If you have at least one year of healthcare experience and desire to take the capstone project course, contact the HSS internship coordinator at (269) 387-3800 or by filling out our contact form.
  • Students must have the minimum of a 2.5 GPA to enroll in HSV 4895 to complete a capstone project. If a student misses the minimum GPA, the student will be given one semester to achieve the 2.5 GPA before taking the course. If the student is unable to achieve the 2.5 GPA in one semester, the student will be dismissed from the program barring hardship circumstances. If there are hardship circumstances, the internship coordinator, the program coordinator and the director of the School of Interdisciplinary Health Programs will review the case.

 HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES INDEPENDENT RESEARCH (HSV 4890)

Restricted to certified, licensed or registered health providers, this course requires the completion of a student created research project related to a current issue in health and human services. The student must complete a capstone experience application following the date guidelines for all capstone experiences. 

The project must conform to the following standards:

Independent research standards:

  1. The student must select a research committee consisting of 1) a faculty mentor knowledgeable in the field of inquiry, and 2) a reader who will also act as a resource person (the resource person may work outside of the University).
  2. The program coordinator must approve the research project before the student can commit to this capstone option.
  3. Students must document their research project in a paper written in the professional or academic style appropriate to the discipline and presented in a public forum approved by the program coordinator.

Students must have the minimum of a 2.5 GPA to enroll in HSV 4890 and conduct independent research. If a student misses the minimum GPA, the student will be given one semester to achieve the 2.5 GPA before taking the course. If the student is unable to achieve the 2.5 GPA in one semester, the student will be dismissed from the program barring hardship circumstances. If there are hardship circumstances, the internship coordinator, the program coordinator and the director of the School of Interdisciplinary Health Programs will review the case.

 APPLICATION FOR INTERNSHIP, CAPSTONE PROJECT and research project

Western Michigan University's Healthcare Services and Sciences (HSS) program uses a web-based data management system called Intern Placement Tracking (IPT) to track all students in field placements.

IPT allows the internship coordinator, graduate assistant and internship organizations to communicate with each other and with student interns. Students must complete and submit the online application for the HSS Internship (HSV 4900), Capstone Project (HSV 4895) or Independent Research (HSV 4890). Information about the application process, how to set up an account and how to use the system can be found here: HSS Internship and Capstone Project Application Instructions.

Application Deadlines

Applications are generally due one academic school year ahead of the semester in which the student wants to complete the internship, capstone project or independent research. Late applications are considered on a case by case basis.

Capstone Experience
(HSV 4890, HSV 4895, or HSV 4900)

Application Deadline
Spring June 1 (previous year)
Summer December 1 (the previous year)
Fall March 1 (of the same year)