The Boston College Capstone Program: Formation and Function of a Holistic General Education Cumulative Experience

James M. Weiss, Russell Kirkscey, Julie Vale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay discusses Boston College’s Capstone Program (BCCP), a distinctive experience with a thirty-two-year history. Unlike capstones focused on specialized projects, often in the student’s major, BCCP has helped seniors integrate their entire academic and personal growth. Additionally, the article describes BCCP’s historic models, holistic goals, course designs, faculty formation, administrative support, and impacts. It also offers recommendations for founding or extending general education capstones. BCCP comprises 25 or more seminars available to all seniors. Instructors from over 20 departments in Humanities, Sciences, Education, Management, and Nursing use materials and methods from their specializations, but do so to explore larger life purposes for students from any major. Examples from several disciplines are offered. Focusing on personal development, each seminar proceeds by review and preview: students review their agency in their educations and preview long-term goals. Demand for seminars has remained high: students praise them among their most signifi cant college experiences. Regular faculty communication has ensured BCCP’s vitality, including annual retreats on pedagogy and shared oversight of new seminar proposals. BCCP has enjoyed substantial administration support, providing a program director with stipend and course reduction. As a signature element of Boston College’s curriculum, BCCP has also generated formative curricula for freshmen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-61
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of General Education
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education

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