Final Year of Thesis and First Year of Capstone


One of the most noticeable changes of Academic Magnet’s educational traditions is the switch from completing and defending a Senior Thesis to having a required course in AP Seminar and AP Research, aka AP Capstone. The initial idea for this switch last year was upsetting to the students who had already beguan or completed their Senior Thesis. This year, the Class of 2019 is the last generation of Magnet students to carry on the legacy of thesis, and the juniors are beginning their first course in AP Capstone.

Some of the primary responses to AP Capstone by those who were already working on a thesis were negative. These students believed that the coursework for AP Capstone would not match the intensity of senior thesis. They thought that the research, papers, data collection, and multiple presentations would not be included in these new courses. Regardless of these opinions, AP Capstone actually offers a majority of the same coursework as senior thesis, and possibly proposes even more challenges.

According to the College Board, this AP class has the same objective as thesis, to educate and teach students on how to conduct research and prepare for college. Similar to Senior Thesis, AP Seminar (taken junior year) requires students to complete an independent research paper and provide a presentation. Alternatively, this course also has the students complete a team project, something senior thesis did not require. AP Seminar acts as a beginner’s class to research and prepares the students for the next AP class taken during their senior year.

The next part of Capstone is AP Research, which is the most similar to thesis. AP Research allows students to choose any topic of interest for their project, similar to thesis, but this topic is chosen senior year as compared to junior year. Rather than collecting data over the summer for thesis, data collection for AP Research will take place during the school year. The students will also write an academic paper in a structure very comparable to the Senior Thesis Paper.  The students will then defend their research in an oral presentation and defense.

Given this information, AP Capstone and Senior Thesis are nearly identical based on coursework. Capstone will require more collaborative work and assignments based on analyzing research and interpreting it, but both of these classes will have a similar end goal in completing a student research project. Capstone’s teacher guidance through the project will be beneficial during the students’ senior year, and the AP exams themselves may also be rewarding.

Magnet may be losing one of its oldest traditions as the Class of 2019 carries out its final year of Senior Thesis, but newer generations will begin a new era in the school’s history.