Undergraduate Capstone

The ISS Undergraduate Certificate Capstone requirement can be fulfilled in several ways.

ISS 495S: Research Capstone

This collaborative, project-based course is offered in Spring semesters and is usually taken by seniors who have completed all their ISS requirements. Students in the course undertake a semester-long digital project as a group, drawing upon the expertise of the group and their faculty mentor(s) to develop a project plan and prototype. Typical projects take a Duke organization or group on as a "client." Students in the class are advised by a Board of Directors who usually consist of faculty and staff from across campus. Many recent Capstone projects have focused on mobile applications, web design, and augmented reality, but topics may vary based on the collective will of the group.

The ideal ISS 495S project has a life after the semester ends. Many have a social dimension as well. Many Capstone projects have built upon one another. The ISS Mapping theme has been prominent and evolving over time as the technology advances. The Class of 2005 made the first version of Duke's interactive campus map. The Class of 2007 added in 3D models of East Campus and make an admissions tour. The Class of 2010 expanded upon the concept with more campus models and annotations plus enhanced videos  to make the Duke Tour.  The Class of 2012 created an augmented reality toolkit for developing Duke and Durham mixed reality experiences. The Class of 2013 designed a mobile web app for DukeArts. The Class of 2014 created a paper-based augmented reality map of campus for use by incoming and prospective students.

In 2009 the ISS Capstone focused on mapping a rural region in Kenya as part of a collaboration with Duke Global Health and Duke Engage. This project continues on with independent study projects and other ongoing research efforts in partnership with Duke Global Health and WISER.

In other years students have chosen to focus more on other types of multimedia development - the Class of 2006 created an early version of the campus e-Flyer system, and the Class of 2008 created a touch-screen multimedia kiosk.  The Class of 2011 focused on a co-curricular advising resource.

Whatever the project, we encourage students to bring to the table the skills they have developed not only in their other ISS courses, but also in their majors. We value the contributions of all our students, whether from the Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences, or Engineering. Computer Science students often find ISS to be a useful way to bring their coding skills into an applied context as well.

ISS 496: Experiential Capstone

Students in Bass Connections' Information, Society, and Culture theme, and in some cases in other team-based projects, may choose to fulfill the Capstone requirement through a project tied to their project experience. For this option students are required to identify a project mentor and to write up a project proposal, as well as participate in regular meet-up with other students working on Capstone projects.

Combined Capstone

In rare cases students may be approved to combine two Capstone projects into one, major project that represents 2x the work normally expected in a regular Capstone project. This has occurred most frequently with Visual and Media Studies students who are also taking the ISS Certificate, but it could be possible in other combinations, subject to the approval of both programs.


Students wishing to pursue Distinction in ISS should follow the procedures for Graduation with Distinction (outside the major). Students fulfilling this option are expected to take ISS 493: Advanced Research in the Fall of the senior year, and follow it with the ISS 496: Experiential Capstone. Note that for this option the student may not combine Distinction projects within the major and with ISS.