The Capstone experience is a senior-level sequence of two courses integrating the discipline via mathematical modeling, simulation, and active research and report writing. While taking the Capstone courses, students are expected to engage in research with a UCLA ladder faculty member. The Capstone experience culminates with the completion of a senior thesis. 

Capstone Requirements

For students admitted to the Major (not the Pre-Major) Fall 2020 and forward, there are two options for completing the Capstone courses:

  • Option 1:  C&S BIO 199 (4 Units) AND C&S BIO M187 (4 Units)
  • Option 2: C&S BIO 198A (4 Units) AND C&S BIO 198B (4 Units)

While taking these Capstone courses, students are expected to do research with a UCLA ladder faculty member. Students are expected to reach out to faculty and find their own research project prior to taking the Capstone courses. Please review the Research Expectations page for more information on finding a project and Capstone research requirements.

Students who were admitted to the Major (not the Pre-Major) prior to Fall 2020 are held to the old Capstone requirements: C&S BIO M150 (5 Units) and C&S BIO M187 (4 Units). M150 is still required for all students, but is not associated with the Capstone in the new curriculum.

Differences Between the Two Capstone Options

The two Capstone options are designed to be parallel to each other. In both series, students will be expected to complete a research project supervised by a ladder faculty member and complete the following deliverables:

  • Deliver a 10-minute presentation at a lab meeting.
  • Complete a poster for presentation to participate in CaSB’s Poster Session/Research Symposium in Spring quarter.
  • Complete an approximately 10-page or longer paper.

The specific criteria for these deliverables will be provided when students enroll in the Capstone courses.

In Option 1, students will engage in supervised research with a UCLA faculty member while taking 4 units of C&S BIO 199, a directed research course. At the completion of C&S BIO 199, the supervising faculty mentor, also known as the Primary Investigator (PI), will assign a grade based on students’ work in the lab and a culminating paper or project providing evidence of work completed, as outlined in the 199 contract. Students will then complete C&S BIO M187, a research communications class that teaches students to communicate research results both orally and in writing through in-class presentations and completion of the senior research thesis. In this class, students will complete the three deliverables for the Capstone project as described above. The final grade for M187 will be assigned by the professor of the class, in consultation with students’ senior research advisor, based on the deliverables completed.

For Option 2, students will engage in directed honors research with a UCLA faculty member while taking C&S BIO 198A and C&S BIO 198B, each for 4 units. Students will be expected to complete the same deliverables as those taking M187: a senior thesis paper, poster, and presentation. At the end of C&S BIO 198A, students will be required to submit tangible evidence of the work completed (i.e., a preliminary/partial draft of their thesis paper), as specified in the 198A contract, to the supervising faculty mentor. In C&S BIO 198B, students will complete the three deliverables described above with feedback from their supervising faculty mentor and submit them to the faculty mentor and the department. Grades will be assigned by the faculty mentor. A grade will not be assigned for 198A until a student completes 198B (the grade will show as in progress). Students must complete both classes to receive a grade for either course.

Choosing a Capstone Option

Students will gain research experience and complete a thesis paper, presentation, and poster, regardless of the Capstone series they choose. The two series are designed to mirror each other. Students are encouraged to meet with the CaSB Department Counselor to discuss which option is best for them.

Students who desire a more structured research communications course where students get significant, individual feedback on their writing and presentation skills may want to consider Option 1. Students who foresee continuing research in graduate school or their careers and want to build their research communication skills, may particularly benefit from taking C&S BIO M187.

On the other hand, students who feel comfortable completing their thesis without taking a separate research communications course (like C&S BIO M187), want more of the feedback to come directly from their primary investigator, or need to complete their thesis over different quarters (M187 is typically only offered in the Spring), may want to consider Option 2. Because C&S BIO 198A and B are also designated as Honors courses, this may be a desirable option for students looking to receive credit towards the College Honors Program.

Students can take either Capstone option and be eligible for Departmental Honors. Students with a grade-point average of 3.5 or better in required Major courses and a 3.0 cumulative GPA may apply for Departmental Honors during their graduating term. Eligible students will need to submit a copy of their senior thesis and will need to be recommended by their senior thesis advisor/primary investigator.

Planning for the Capstone Courses

For Option 1, C&S BIO M187 is typically offered in Spring quarter (subject to change). Most students will take this course in Spring of their 4th year. Prior to taking C&S BIO M187, students must take at least one quarter of C&S BIO 199 (199 will be added as a pre-requisite to M187). It is recommended that students plan for this course in Winter quarter of their 4th year, immediately before C&S BIO M187, but other quarters are possible. While students are not required to take a second C&S BIO 199 course while enrolled in M187, they are expected to continue their research during the quarter in which they take M187.

For Option 2, C&S BIO 198A and 198B should be taken in sequence. A grade for C&S BIO 198A will not be assigned until 198B is completed. Since these are individual contract courses, they can be taken any quarter, but it is recommended that studentscomplete them during their 4th year.

Research Expectations for the Capstone Courses

Students are expected to find their own research project prior to starting the Capstone courses. Students are required to complete at least two quarters of research supervised by a UCLA ladder faculty member while they are enrolled in the Capstone courses, but students are strongly encouraged to complete additional research and start their research projects early. CaSB still recommends that students complete approximately a year of research (or more if desired) to provide sufficient material for their senior theses. Students pursuing additional quarters of research may choose to enroll in additional quarters of C&S BIO 199 to earn upper division units for their research, but this is not required.

For Option 1, students are, at minimum, expected to do research for two quarters: while completing one quarter (4 units) of C&S BIO 199 and continuing this research while enrolled in C&S BIO M187.

For Option 2, students are, at minimum, expected to do research for two quarters: while completing one quarter (4 units) of C&S BIO 198A and one quarter (4 units) of C&S BIO 198B.

Students should review the Research Expectations page for more information on what to look for in a project.

Enrolling in the Capstone Courses

C&S BIO 199, 198A, and 198B are contract courses. Enrollment requires the creation of a contract between the student and the professor who will be supervising the research. The contract outlines the research project that the student will be working on and describes what tangible evidence the student will provide at the end of the quarter as evidence of work completed (this is normally in the form of a final paper or project). Contracts are generated via MyUCLA (go to the “Academics” tab and then “Contract Courses”). Students must fill out the contract and obtain their professor’s/PI’s signature. The contract should then be emailed to the CaSB Undergraduate Office no later than Wednesday of Week 2 of the quarter. The CaSB Department Counselor will obtain the second required signature from the CaSB Chair. More info about contract courses can be found here.

C&S BIO M187 enrollment will be via MyUCLA during regular enrollment passes. Please note that the pre-requisites for this course should be updated in the coming months to include C&S BIO 199 as a pre-requisite.

Students following Capstone Option 1 who are interested in substituting another department’s 199 course for C&S BIO 199 should submit a course substitution petition. Petition forms and policies can be found here.

Sample Syllabi and Resources