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Best Practices to Prepare for Your Final Program Requirement

Best Practices to Prepare for Your Final Program Requirement


By Loren Germann-McClain
Senior Academic Advisor II, School of STEM, APUS

Congratulations! You’re nearing the end of your program, and graduation is quickly approaching. One course you will need to complete prior to earning your conferred degree, however, is your Final Program Requirement.

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The Final Program Requirement course varies by academic program and is the culminating experience of your program. It requires considerable preparation, so here are some tips to get you started. 

Start Early and Plan Often

Anna Granofsky, Senior Academic Advisor II, encourages organization from the first day of your academic program. She says, “Create a school folder with course subfolders, and save all of your assignments, papers, and projects. Before you start your Final Program Requirement class, review the major projects from the courses within your major and concentration.

This review will help jog your memory on past topics; knowing the major learning components of previous courses will be the heart of your Final Program Requirement. You may even want to expand on a topic that interested you, and use it as part of your final!”

Review Your Final Program Requirement Course Descriptions and Syllabus

Always take time to review the final program requirement course description and the archived syllabus well before you register for the course. We recommend reviewing the syllabus at least two classes prior to registering for the final program requirement course. This strategy will provide you with adequate time to gather any assignments or papers from previous classes that will need to be included in your capstone course, especially if you opt to do a portfolio capstone.

However, be sure to review your course syllabus again when your final program requirement class starts, since it may differ slightly from the archived syllabus. If you have questions about what you can expect in your Final Program Requirement course, your Academic Advising team is here to answer them.

Undergraduate Capstone Courses

The undergraduate capstone course requires students to have completed at least 105 semester hours in an academic program prior to registering for the Final Program Requirement class. You may be enrolled in a program that requires your capstone to be the last course you take in the program, which means it cannot be taken with any other class. Please be sure to check with your Academic Advising team beforehand to see if your capstone class is required to be a standalone course, because that may affect your funding eligibility.

Graduate Capstone Courses

Depending on your academic program, the graduate capstone course could be a comprehensive exam or a capstone class. Before you can be registered for your Graduate Final Program Requirement course, you will need to:

  • Have a grade point average (GPA) of a 3.0 or higher
  • Have completed all other program requirements

Your program may have other final program options available that are not listed on your academic plan. You should reach out to your Academic Advising team to review your Final Program Requirement course options ahead of time. Make sure you read the End of Program Manual for an explanation of each option.

Comprehensive Exam Proctoring for Your Graduate Course

APUS professors use examinations as one method of evaluating a student’s performance during a course. Examinations may be proctored or unproctored, and professors can set any exam so that a proctor is required.

Proctors are individuals who meet certain qualifications and who can ensure the integrity of the examination process. They monitor your work during the final exam and verify that you complied with all exam instructions such as the use of outside materials and doing your own work.

If a proctor is required, you must locate a suitable proctor who will be able to give you access to a computer for 3-4 hours. This proctor must also have an email address.

Prior to exam day, the professor will email a password to your proctor. On the day of your exam, your proctor will provide the password and monitor you as you take your final exam online.

You Can Register Early for the Final Program Requirement Course if You Have a High GPA

If your GPA is above a 3.5, you may request early registration of your Final Program Requirement class while you are in your last course. Your Academic Advising team is happy to help you with this request as online registration is blocked until all grades are posted.

Course Registration Advice for Your Final Program Requirement Course

Kristin Barile, Senior Academic Advisor, says, “Always consider what you having going on in your personal and professional life before signing up for the Final Program Requirement class, as this course will be the most time-consuming in your program. However, it will also be the most rewarding course you take with us, since it will give you an opportunity to show off everything you’ve learned in all of your previous classes.”

Different capstone courses have different course registration timelines and requirements. Your Final Program Requirement course may require a prerequisite class, the completion of a certain amount of semester hours or a certain GPA to allow for an early registration.

Ask Your Academic Advisors for More Information

If you have questions about early registration for your Final Program Requirement course, your Academic Advising team can assist you. We understand that sometimes you will have a deadline you would like to meet, and we’re happy to review your options to assist with helping you meet your academic goals. It’s always better to ask early so we can work with you to create a plan to meet these goals than to ask too late and miss your deadline.

About the Author

Loren Germann-McClain is currently in her second year as a Senior Academic Advisor with the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at American Public University System. She holds an M.A. in English – Rhetoric and Composition from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, as well as an M.A. in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University.

Loren previously worked in human resources and public relations at a public library in Indiana, where she helped develop a project to bring mental health first aid and awareness to public and academic libraries across the state. She has earned grants to help develop coding programs for school-age children and develop free, extracurricular activities to help align with the Indiana State standards for computer science, technology, and coding. Her work has helped empower Hoosier students to be equipped with the critical and computational problem-solving skills they will need in order to succeed in a digitally powered and ever-evolving world. 



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