Culminating Experience Options


Students in the MBA Program have two options for their culminating experience requirement: Comprehensive Exam or Project. The majority of MBA students choose to take the comprehensive exam. For more information on your options, read the additional information below or contact MBA Program staff.

Comprehensive Exam Description (0 units)

Students are eligible to register for the comprehensive exam in the term they are scheduled to complete their core courses. Most students take the comprehensive exam in the term they register for MGT 5900, the capstone course.

The comprehensive exam consists of seven questions, one question for each core course in the MBA curriculum. Students will receive two questions for each core course; they select one question to answer. Students must pass five out of the seven questions to pass the comprehensive exam. If students fail the exam, they are eligible to retake the exam the next term when the comprehensive exam is offered. Faculty that teach core courses provide the questions, grade them, and provide feedback to students if they fail the question. Students are strongly encouraged to keep all course materials including books, assignments, syllabi, and other information to use as study materials and guides for the comprehensive exam.

The MBA Program will notify students of their eligibility for the comprehensive exam, within the first three weeks of the start of fall or spring term. There is a $75 fee to take the exam the first time, and a $50 fee to take the exam subsequent time(s). Fees are subject to change.

MBA Individual Project (3 units)

(ACC 5960, CIS 5960, FIN 5960, MKT 5960, MGT 5960, OM 5960)

The course 5960 is the graduate project for MBA students who have completed core course requirements. The project is one of two options of meeting the “culminating experience” requirement, the other being the comprehensive examination. The COURSE 5960 replaces one elective (students complete two electives instead of three electives). Note, if you have a concentration, you must complete three electives in your concentration subject and take the COURSE 5960 as an extra course to satisfy your culminating experience. Students that choose to complete a project will plan for the project, obtain committee members and receive project approval one semester (term) prior to enrolling in the course 5960.

The committee will consist of three-person committee, made up of a faculty supervisor and two readers. The advisor must be a full-time College of Business Administration faculty member at Stanislaus State; they will be the instructor of record. Students will have one term to complete their project. Their faculty advisor provides feedback on content. In addition, students are required to obtain a project editor and pay fees for the editor (~$200), incorporate this feedback and obtain approval from faculty supervisor.

An oral presentation to the project committee is required of all persons defending completed projects, prior to project submission to the Stanislaus State Library. You have the option of holding an open presentation, open to all interested parties, or a closed presentation with the three committee members.

The committee will approve the final project, and the student is then responsible for submitting to the Stanislaus State Library to publish online. The Library will advise if any additional changes are needed, or if the project is final and published. It is the student’s responsibility to meet submission deadlines, set forth by the Library, for a timely project submission.

A project consists of original work that contributes new knowledge to some area of business or organizational studies. The nature of the project and the discipline of the faculty supervisor generally determine the concentration under which the project will be registered. Final written reports should consist of documents of approximately 70-100 pages in length including tables, exhibits, and appendixes.

Types of Projects Include:

A topic investigation (or report) is based upon some special business-related topic of interest or work-related project, like a feasibility study or development plan. A topic investigation can be based on a work-related program or project of interest or it may be course-related, or it may be a topic of special interest to you. One criterion of a topic investigation is that it serves as some kind of model or “blueprint” for persons within a similar organization or industry. The details of the project should be worked out with a faculty supervisor. Prior to meeting with a prospective faculty supervisor, however, you must develop a project idea in outline format and be prepared to describe, in some detail, just what you wish to investigate and what approach you plan to take. Ultimately this approach will result in a written document which includes: the project’s purpose, a brief description, its significance, a description of the methodology used to collect information, the nature of the findings to come from the project, and recommendations based on the project’s outcomes.

A second project consists of both preparing and analyzing a “case” related to some strategic issue that an organization is in the process of dealing with or has recently faced. In the preparation phase, you generally will be communicating with individuals involved in the case situation, gathering all available information pertinent to the issue or situation. The information then needs to be sorted, organized, and written up in an objective, case format that presents the material in a logical format to a reader. (Refer to cases in “Business Policy” or other case-oriented courses for examples of how cases are written). Your written case would typically run around 30-40 pages including tables and exhibits. If undertaking a case study, it is important to keep all parts of the case objective and factual, meaning there should be no opinions on your part entered into the case. A case may report the opinions of persons involved in the case where appropriate, that have been presented to you, the case writer.
A separate “case analysis” section represents your analysis of the case you have written, including a definition, in your words, of the issue or issues at hand and, in the end, your recommendations and supporting arguments of what action or actions the decision makers in the organization should make. A typical written case analysis would run about 25-35 pages plus exhibits. If selecting this option, it is important that you secure the approval of whoever makes significant organizational decisions, that is whoever’s approval will be necessary for you to gather the factual information you will need to develop the case. Generally speaking, the chances of getting the approval are increased if the decision-maker can be convinced that the results of the case analysis will likely be beneficial to the organization.

Research projects typically examine the connections (or correlations) between different factors (variables) in cause-effect relationships. Or, they involve investigations of human behavior in organizations. These types of projects can be extensive undertakings particularly if one has to gather data for such a project, be it qualitative data or quantitative data. A more common practice for persons undertaking such projects is to examine connections between factors upon which data has already been gathered and is available in existing data bases.

There may be other project options that project committees will be open to approving and supervising. If you have something in mind that you believe will contribute original knowledge to your discipline or concentration, and that will meet written project requirements, you are welcome to develop a proposal on your idea and present it, in short outline form, to a prospective supervisor.
Whichever option you pursue, you are encouraged to develop your idea as thoroughly as possible, and have a written outline in place that describes what you intend to do and your purpose in so doing, prior to approaching a prospective faculty supervisor. Faculty project supervisors are more likely to work with students who develop projects that fit with that faculty member’s area of interest or expertise.

The Project Proposal and Registration Process:

In order to initiate a project and get registered, you must first develop a written project proposal. Students use a draft proposal to recruit a College of Business Administration faculty member to serve as their faculty advisor. The proposal and faculty advisor recruitment must be completed one term prior to the term that you will register for and enroll in BUS 5960 Individual Project. Students are required to complete their project one month prior to the end of the term, to allow time for approvals. The faculty advisor is responsible for approving content, approves the final draft, then the project is routed to a project editor for feedback on formatting and grammar.

The project proposal may be developed independently by you or may be jointly developed with a sponsoring faculty member who will serve as advisor. Refer to the MBA Individual Project course guidelines above regarding committee members required. The proposal should include the following: 1. the proposed title. 2. the background and purpose of study, and 3. a brief description of the project itself: what it will entail and what the three-person committee can expect to see at completion.

Once your proposal is complete, has been reviewed and accepted by your faculty supervisor, and distributed to the committee members, you can proceed with registration. Use the “special registration form” to register for the exam. Please attach a copy of the proposal to this form, write the names of the committee members at the bottom of the form, and email to the MBA office for processing. This form must be signed by the MBA Director and the Dean before being submitted to the University for Registration. The MBA department will keep a file copy of the registration form and proposal. The course is registered under the course number 5960 in whichever concentration the project fits. Students must complete the IRB form under the guidance of their faculty advisor. Upon receipt of IRB approval, student can begin research and completing their project using the approved template (found on the library website).

If the project extends beyond the semester in which it is initially registered, you must register for the course BUS 7005 – Continuing Thesis or Project (zero units) using the Special Registration Form, and pay applicable fees, which allows you use of the university facilities in completing the project.