Student-Driven Capstone 

At Bard, the Master's Project provides the opportunity for students to develop true mastery in their chosen field of interest, ranging across topics such as water, energy, biodiversity, toxic pollution, and environmental justice. Unlike at many other schools where a capstone project is derivative of a faculty member's research interest, at Bard, students develop their own capstone topics, typically focused on solving an environmental policy problem identified during the student's internship. In these cases, students devote an entire year to practical work in the area in which they are passionate: six months of hands-on experience, coupled with six months of academic analysis and reflection through their capstone work. This kind of mastery provides a strong foundation for career success. Each Master's Project is carefully mentored by two Bard CEP Faculty members, including a primary and secondary advisor. 

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How the Master's Project works:

Project Options

Students can pursue two different Master's Capstone avenues: (1) the Thesis, which is designed to help students understand evidence-based policy formation by generating a research question, developing its proof, and communicating these ideas to a potential policymaker audience; and (2) the Project, which is designed to replicate a professional experience, either in the form of a consulting project or a communication piece. Drawing on knowledge from the first-year coursework, students integrate aspects of the natural and social sciences in their capstone analysis and policy recommendations.

Project Timing

Students begin to formalize capstone ideas the summer after their first year, in consultation with an advisor on the faculty. The internship allows students to explore policy issues and usually serves as the springboard for the capstone. During the internship period, a formal proposal is presented to the student’s advisor, who chairs the student’s Capstone Committee, which is composed of three members (at least two of whom are Bard CEP faculty). An outside expert is often included to provide specialized advice on the capstone.

Master's Seminar

The Master's Seminar offers a platform for students to present successive iterations of their capstone research. Students discuss the policy problems and methodological challenges they encounter in their work, along with different ways of dealing with them. The seminar also offers students the chance to receive feedback from their peers and the Bard CEP Faculty, and to focus on effectively communicating the results of their research.

Sample Master's Project Topics:


+ Land and Water Resource Management

+ Environmental Risk Management

+ Urban and Regional Planning

+ Economic Growth and Sustainable Development

+ Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation