Graduate Project Guidelines

Towson University recognizes that classroom instruction can only take you so far. The best learning opportunities are those when you must apply your skills in the real world. The Capstone Project requires you to research a specific real-world issue and synthesize an original argument about a precise policy outcome (an event or condition that ought to be about or prevented).

The project must be on a topic in an area of research or application that is interesting and relevant to homeland security. The research design and conduct of the project will be overseen by a faculty advisor. Students will frame the problem, carry out data collection, conduct the analysis, make recommendations and present their findings. 

IHSM 881 Capstone Project I can be taken after completing 15 credits in the program. Students unable to complete the project in one semester, must register for IHSM 882 Capstone Project II or IHSM 885 Capstone Project Continuum in order to continue the project into the next semester. Prior to registration for the IHSM 881 course, the student must obtain approval from a faculty advisor and the IHSM Program Director.  Students should contact the Program Director two months before the semester during which they expect to register for 881.

Here are the basic steps for completing the Capstone Project.

  1. Identify and select a specific real world issue of interest.  Identify or develop a precise policy outcome and explain the significance of that outcome.
  2. Develop an understanding of the sequence of events by which likely is — or could be — produced.  
  3. Conduct research to describe, evaluate, or test the identified sequence of events.
  4. Provide a policy recommendation and justification for said policy.

Prior to registering for IHSM 881, students must submit a project proposal to the Program Director.  If the proposal is accepted, the director will grant permission for the student to register for IHSM 881.

To develop their proposal, students should contact a faculty member listed below to find a faculty advisor for their project.  The faculty advisor will then guide the student through the development of the proposal.  Once the faculty advisor has approved the proposal, it will then be submitted to the Program Director for review. 

Note: This process takes some time.  Students must initiate this process months before the semester during which they would like to do the project.


Elements of the Project Proposal 

  • Project Description, Justification, and Expected Outcome: In this section, describe the specific issue and provide a precise outcome.  Explain this outcome's significance for homeland security. Communicate a basic undertanding of what causes — or would cause — the outcome in question.  Third, you must provide a preliminary list of sources and an idea of where you plan to look for additional information/data.  Fourth, and finally, you must provide a time table for how you plan to get all this done.
  • Reading List: Provide a list of resources that will be used to research the issue and defend your framing of the issue, the outcome selected, and the outcome's significance. 
  • Implementation Plan: Provide a list of tasks that will comprise the project and the associated timeline for each. Likely tasks include issue research, data collection, analysis, the development of a policy proposal, writing and draft submission, and delivery of the final report. 
  • Final Product: Delineate what will be included in the final project report. Below is a suggested outline.

Click on the following hyperlinks to view sample project proposals on cybersecurity, critical infrastructure protection, and post-crisis mental health.

Final Project Report

Below is a suggested outline of what should be included in your final project report.

  • Executive Summary
  • Table of Contents
  • Table of Figures
  • Introduction
  • Project Description and Scope
  • Literature Review (if applicable)
  • Methodology
  • Presentation of Data
  • Analysis
  • .... Other sections as specific to the project.
  • Recommendations and Summary
  • Appendices
  • References

List of Project Advisors

The following IHSM faculty have agreed to serve as faculty advisors for the Capstone Project. If you canot find an advisor, the Program Director will either assign another available faculty member or serve as your advisor.

  • Dr. Nikki Austin
  • Dr. Joseph R. Clark
  • Mr. Chas Eby
  • Mr. Arthur Friedman
  • Mr. Steven Hlavach
  • Dr. Wayne Nelson
  • Dr. Joseph Rudolph
  • Mr. Dennis Schrader
  • Dr. Joseph Trahan
  • Dr. Ashlie Warnick