DNP Capstone Research

Doctoral Capstone vs Dissertation | What’s the Difference?

If you have done some research on doctoral degrees, you might notice that all Ph.D. programs need a dissertation. While a few professional doctorates need a doctoral capstone. So, what is the difference between a doctoral dissertation and a capstone? To know that, we will begin with some elements they have in common with each other. These will be helpful tips to choose the right course when the need arises.


Similarities Between Doctoral Dissertations And Capstone

The purpose of doctoral programs is to prepare students to apply research skills in the community and workplace. Completing both dissertation or capstone project requires extensive preparation. You must have a strong foundation in critical thinking, writing, and research to be successful in this task. The final project or document that culminates from this demonstrates how much you have learned. It shows your readiness and capability to lead in your chosen career path.

Differences Between Doctoral Dissertation And Capstone


A dissertation is a research that generally comprises of five chapters.

While a capstone project is made up of two parts. First is the deliverable, which could be a paper long enough to be published or a portfolio. It can also be a product such as a change management plan, software, policy manual, curriculum, or application.

The second part of the capstone project is the final presentation or report. It basically explains the process behind the deliverable and the knowledge that was applied.


Each of these two final research forms has different focuses.

A dissertation is an original input to a particular body of literature. And sees a certain theory in the field. It acknowledges a research issue or a gap in current research. This contributes to the information of that discipline. It is perceived as a quest to seek new information that is intended to solve problems in the real world. Along with that, it should be relevant to the field.

A doctoral capstone intends to apply or extend the research to provide a solution within the real world. Due to this, unlike the dissertation, a capstone project deliverable is acceptable in so many forms. It can consist of writing software to resolve a certain technical issue. Or can comprise designing a curriculum that is meant to solve a particular education matter.

Time Frame:

Both of these papers have a vastly different time frame during which they need to be completed. A capstone project can take you 6 months or more than a year to complete. A dissertation in comparison takes 1-2 and a half years to finish. These time periods also depend on the capstone course that you are taking.


As mentioned above, a capstone project’s deliverable consists of a paper, portfolio, or product. A capstone paper can include doing action research or evaluation of certain concepts you have learned.  Another option can be a clinical research paper. Followed by this is the final report. Its job is to describe the scholarly context of the research and all the processes used to achieve it. You must include theory and literature to support the ideas you present.

On the other hand, the following elements are focused upon in a dissertation:

  • Introduction and thesis statement
  • Literature review
  • Methodology
  • Data Analysis and Result
  • Conclusion and Recommendations

These are the five basic chapters that make up a dissertation. Each of these needs to be extremely well-written in order to get your point across. Starting off with the introduction, you need to give a brief yet comprehensive background of the research topic. Mention any previous research that has been done on it. Highlight the gaps which you tend to fill with your research. The thesis statement is the focal point of your introduction. It presents the problem that you intend to discuss and solve in the research.

The literature review then focuses on critically assessing the sources you have collected. These must be relevant and appropriate for your field. Focus more extensively on the research gap here that you want to address. The third chapter handles the methods you have used for collecting the sources for your research. Also, remember to mention any limitations you came across while doing it.

The fourth chapter of data analysis and results is an evaluation of the information you gathered on the subject. Make sure that you have provided proper evidence to support any arguments you state. Otherwise, your ideas will be easy to dismiss and will lack validity. The last and final chapter is exclusively used for summing up the contents of the research. Do not introduce any brand-new ideas here. Summarize all your arguments and tie them together with the thesis statement. Any recommendations to take the research further are also included here.

Our detailed observations about the differences between a doctoral capstone and dissertation come to an end here. We are sure that this explanation is sure to guide you when you need to choose between either of them. In order to have further help, you can always contact the DNP Capstone Project Writing service for the best research papers. We provide our customers with quality content written by professionals of the required field.


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