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Capstone Experience

All students in the MS in Human Resource Development program must complete a Capstone Experience in order to complete their degree requirements: an examination (either a qualifying HR certification exam or the departmental written comprehensive exam), or an experiential project.

There are several exams that will satisfy the comprehensive examination degree requirement through SHRM and HRCI, which are listed below. Click the exam to view its eligibility information.

  • PHR (Professional in Human Resources)
  • SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources)
  • GPHR (Global Professional in Human Resources)
  • SHRM-CP (SHRM-Certified Professional)
  • SHRM-SCP (SHRM-Senior Certified Professional)

If you are unsure which exam is the right fit for you, please speak to your advisor.

Certifications must be active at the time of graduation.


Preliminary score sheets or official certificates will be accepted for the HR certification exams. In the event that preliminary scores cannot be provided the day of the exam, please note that we will need to receive your official certificate by the appropriate date. Official certificates can take 4-8 weeks from the close of the testing window to process and be delivered to you. 

Students who choose to take a certification exam after completing their coursework should be sure to register for graduation during the semester they are sitting for the exam.  Additional information can be found here.

Certifications must be active at the time of graduation.

Submit a scanned copy of your preliminary score sheet OR official certificate and email to: so your exam can be posted to your academic record. This will indicate that this degree requirement has been met.

*PLEASE NOTE: Villanova does NOT automatically receive copies of your certification exam results - you must submit them to the HRD department via the instructions above. 

The HRD experiential project provides an opportunity for some students to satisfy the capstone experience through an experiential project. There are three experiential project options:

  • HR Internship
  • HR Work-Based Research Project
  • Masters' Thesis

A student must be in good academic standing (3.0 or above cumulative GPA) with 24 or more credits to be approved for the HR work-based research project and the Masters thesis.

Prior approval is required for any student planning to complete any of the experiential project options.  Each student is limited to one opportunity to complete the capstone requirement via the experiential project.

Students should be aware that there is minimal faculty oversight during the course of the Experiential Project. The project is primarily independent and students should anticipate budgeting their time and resources appropriately.

For more information, current students can visit the Graduate HRD Program organization in Blackboard.

In order to satisfy the comprehensive exam requirement, students may choose to take the HRD departmental written comprehensive exam. Students who have completed 24 credits in the program and who have above a 3.0 GPA are eligible for the departmental written comprehensive exam.

The written comprehensive exam will be offered once per semester in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. 

See the FAQ for the Written Comprehensive Exam here.


Registering for Spring 2021 Comprehensive Exam

Registration Due Date: January 15, 2021
Exam Date: Saturday, March 13, 2021 

The exam will be administered online through Villanova’s Blackboard program using its test security features. You will need access to a computer that has an internet connection. Additional details will be sent to those approved to take the exam.

Interested students can sign up by emailing Michelle Kulla,

*PLEASE NOTE: Students are permitted to take the written comprehensive exam a maximum of two (2) times. If a student does not pass after the second attempt, they are not permitted to take the written comprehensive exam again. See Graduate Studies policy details here.

Contact Information

Campus Programs
St. Mary's Hall, Suite 119
800 E. Lancaster Ave.
Villanova, PA 19085
(p) 610-519-4582
(f) 610-519-5826

Online Program
MS in HRD - Learn more!
(p) 1-866-220-0017