MSHI Capstone Project


HIMS 788 Capstone experience (3 credits)

This capstone experience can take the form of a research project, an internship project, or an applied project-based course. (Students who are currently employed in the healthcare industry will probably choose the project. Those without experience in the healthcare field may prefer an internship or a research project.) The MSHI project is a scholarly, integrative experience that serves as a: Capstone activity; to pull together the skills acquired through course work. Meaningful piece of work; to demonstrate the students' skills for placement and recruitment purposes. Means to introduce the students to formal research methods such as design science research (depending on the interest of the student and the supervising faculty). MSHI projects are conducted by the students under faculty supervision.

Students from the state of Maryland and Nevada that are in the MSHI program will need to choose the Health Informatics Applied Project or the Research Project.

Types of MSHI projects

In general, there are three types of projects as follows:

Health Informatics Applied Project

  • In this project students must plan, design and implement a real-world health informatics project synthesizing the skills and knowledge learned throughout the program. Students are expected to apply the theoretical concepts learned in their coursework to an actual health informatics problem.

Research Project, which can be further divided into:

  • Design science research which shares several characteristics with system development with respect to the need for planning, designing and implementing an HIT artifact.
  • Social science research which typically (though not necessarily) involve formulating a research hypothesis, developing a survey instrument, conducting a survey, statistically analyzing the survey results and discussing and drawing conclusions based on your findings.

Internship or field experience related to health informatics

  • MSHI students are not able to participate in an internship/externship in the state of Maryland and Nevada for the completion of the MSHI program.
  • An internship or field experience will involve the student working in a healthcare facility or organization in a role related to health informatics. The time required for the internship will be dependent upon the scope of the work and the approval of the project supervisor and MSHI Coordinator.


Students should use the following sequence of activities when undertaking their project:

Step 1
  • Your project idea is your responsibility. It is a requirement for graduation. Most ideas have come from course work and class or team discussion as well as from your workplace. If, after completing most of your course work and interacting with faculty, you do not have a viable idea for a project, widen your horizons. Do a literature search in your area of interest (what is making news). Discuss HIT needs or problems with health organizations, facilities, or agencies with which you have worked (who has a problem or need that you can address). Are there any not for profit groups with which you work that may have a problem or need that can be solved? Talk with faculty about research areas. Keep looking and talking.
  • Discuss your preliminary ideas with the faculty member with recognized expertise in your selected area of work (your specialization).
  • Invite a faculty member to become your project supervisor, with approval of the Coordinator of the MSHI Program. Your program advisor is not automatically your project supervisor. Your project supervisor should be a faculty member with expertise in your selected area of work.
  • Student will complete the Project Idea Approval Form (Form #1), including a brief (maximum 1 page) description of the idea and a preliminary timeline, submit this to his/her project supervisor, and obtain approval of the idea. (Approval is indicated by signatures on the Project Idea Approval Form).
  • This should be done within the first several days of the semester, prior to the end of Drop/Add period.
Step 2
  • With your supervisor's help, select your project committee. A committee includes your supervisor and a minimum of two other individuals, one of whom must be another MSHI faculty member. You may also select a faculty member outside the MSHI Program, DSU Administrators, and/or an external professional with expertise related to the project or topic.
Step 3
  • Design your project and prepare the written plan. The Project Plan is the resulting product of the planning stage. It describes what you are going to do, what your project is all about. It includes information on the problem you have identified, research (a literature search) you have undertaken about this problem and how it is being approached by others. It describes how you plan to solve the problem, i.e., your approach or plan of action. It also includes a description of the anticipated deliverables, e.g., program, database.
  • Student will complete and submit the Plan Approval Form. (Form #2) This should be done as early as possible in the semester, but no later than mid-term of the semester. The deadline for the form will be dependent upon the scope and timeline of the project or internship as determined by the project supervisor. This approval must be obtained prior to beginning implementation of the project.
  • The plan is a detailed document that includes the following sections and information:
    • Introduction
      This should be a very brief overview of what you proposing to do in this project and why you are doing it.
    • Statement of problem or question.
      • This answers WHY?
      • What problem have you identified and are addressing in this project?
      • Include a review of the current situation (or literature review) to answer what is going on in this area or discipline now.
    • Objectives (Goals, purpose)
      • This answers WHAT?
      • What do you plan to achieve?
      • What is the desired outcome of this project?
      • This describes what you are going to do. The next section describes how you will do it.
    • Scope of the Project (Scope of work, Plan of action, Activities)
      • This answers HOW?
      • Describe how you plan to achieve the objectives; discuss the activities you have identified that will help reach your desired result. These are the specific activities you will undertake to solve the problem or meet your objectives.
      • Include here the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and Gantt Chart.
      • Here you describe how your project or idea will differ or improve on what is being done and how you intend to accomplish this.
    • Deliverables
      • Describe what you will actually have once you have completed your project. For example, this could be a database, a website, a program, etc. Be specific.
Step 4
  • Project implementation
    • In this step, you will put your plan to work. The end product will be your proposed deliverable and a formal written project report and presentation.
    • During the semester, you are expected to keep in contact (in person or electronically) with your supervisor to enable him or her to monitor progress on the project and provide feedback before the final presentation. You should keep your committee informed of significant milestones or program modifications.
  • Project report and presentation
    • Once you have completed your project, developed your deliverables and reached your conclusions, you must prepare a written report and make a presentation. The report has to be submitted to your committee before a date for presentation can be set. Your committee should have your almost final version of your report at least three weeks prior to the beginning of finals week (two weeks before your desired presentation date). Modifications may be requested by the committee for the final report.
  • The final deliverables for the project are:
    • Project results. Project results vary depending on the type of the project. For a system development project or a design science research project, project results include the planning, design, implementation, and evaluation of an IT artifact, e.g., a working information system or a prototype demonstrating the skills and knowledge learned in your coursework. For a research project, project results include developing a research methodology, collecting the data, analyzing the data and drawing conclusions.
    • Detailed structured written report describing that project and deliverables. While the plan described what you were going to do, the report tells what you actually did. You will build upon the written plan. Please refer to the project template and the project format, style and preparation guidelines for more information. Submit the written report at least two weeks prior to the date on which you wish to make your formal presentation (at least three weeks prior to finals week). You will not be given a presentation date until the written report is acceptable by your committee.
    • Presentation.
      • You are expected to make a formal presentation on your project at its completion. After your committee has approved the report, your supervisor will facilitate the presentation, reserving an appropriate location and equipment. Most on-campus presentations will be scheduled in the DDN studio so that they can be taped and video-streamed. Distance students will have to make arrangements for some form of live video conference. DSU Computing Services will supply technical assistance. Students and faculty will be invited to all presentations.
      • You are not required to divulge proprietary information. If the project presentation contains proprietary information, and you intend to require your committee and any audience present to sign a non-disclosure agreement, you must inform the committee in advance so they can determine the best course of action.

Examples of MSHI Project Presentations

HIMS 788 Final Approval

  • Your committee will meet with you after your presentation to inform you of any changes or edits that should be made to your report. After you have made all changes required by your committee, prepare your final written report using the guidance of the project template and the project format, style and preparation guidelines.
  • The Project Approval Form (Form #3) must be signed by you, your committee, and the MSHI Program Coordinator.
  • You will not be certified for graduation until your project has been formally approved.


Your project will be evaluated on several factors, including how well the project actually integrates what student's are expected to have learned in their other core courses, how well the completed project meets the objectives identified for the project, and how well it meets the course objectives. The quality of the written report and presentation will also be considered in the evaluation for HIMS 788.

Last Updated: 5/11/14