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What Is a Consulting Capstone Project?

Doctoral candidates can now choose to undertake a dissertation, traditional doctoral study, or consulting capstone doctoral study.

Earning a doctorate is a significant journey, offering doctoral candidates a rewarding and challenging experience to make a difference in their field. Doctoral degree programs are known for their academic rigor, and part of that can involve a capstone project—an increasingly popular way for doctoral students to implement their research findings.


The Dissertation and the Doctoral Study

Working professionals who prefer to impact the business community through a more theoretical approach, closing gaps in the available literature or adding to the body of knowledge, are likely to choose the academic route of a PhD. With a PhD in Management, for example, one would complete a standard dissertation. Those who aim to solve a problem and contribute to the field through a more practical approach may opt for a professional doctorate, such as a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree. Instead of writing a dissertation, doctoral candidates in a DBA program typically complete a traditional doctoral study that results in an analysis of a product, service, or method and an accompanying paper outlining the problem and the evidence-based solution. Walden offers DBA doctoral candidates an alternative to the traditional doctoral study: a consulting capstone doctoral study that similarly solves a problem, but in real time.

What Is a Consulting Capstone Project?

Many business management professionals are familiar with a capstone project, which is often the outcome of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. With a capstone, a team of students put aside their textbooks and demonstrate the skills and knowledge they learned throughout the program to create a solution for an organization. A doctoral consulting capstone project takes the concept further.

In Walden University’s consulting capstone project, individual students in the online DBA degree program collaborate with a nonprofit organization or small business to gain valuable real-life and real-time experience while pursuing their doctoral degree. Walden students follow the Baldridge framework and criteria for performance excellence and a comprehensive approach using a systems perspective that aims to “improve [an] organization’s performance and get sustainable results.”1

The consulting capstone project allows participating students to gain a solid foundation and experience in consulting and coaching while also delivering valued insights to the leaders of client organizations into how they might achieve strategic objectives. Small businesses and nonprofit organizations often lack human and fiscal resources to address specific initiatives; the consulting doctoral candidate helps bridge a gap from current operations to potential organization change and future organizational sustainability.

The work of the consulting capstone is as challenging as any doctoral program component. Whereas most students in doctoral programs are researchers, the consulting capstone project enables students to function as researchers and unpaid consultants who regularly confer with the leaders of their client organizations and deliver a final report. The consulting capstone project journey can be transformative for both the student and the client organization. According to Dr. Peter Anthony, doctoral faculty member in the School of Management, “Walden’s DBA consulting capstone project provides doctoral candidates the opportunity to complete their doctorate while simultaneously honing consulting skills. This consultant-scholar combination produces doctors who apply their experiences to assist global organizational leaders achieve sustainable and socially responsible results.”

Students considering a doctoral degree have always had numerous choices when it comes to where and what they wish to learn. With the Walden University DBA consulting capstone, they have another choice for how they learn.

“Walden University is a leader in offering a variety of doctoral programs that support the needs of students and organizational leaders with positive organizational and social change,” says Dr Anthony. “Walden’s administrators, faculty, students, librarians, and writing center provide an impressive cadre of resources for all students to succeed in the doctoral journey. The university produces quality doctors who are organizationally and socially responsible global leaders.”

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Doctor of Business Administration degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,