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.

Examination Options

Qualifying HR Certification Exams

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 faculty 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. 

VUHRD Departmental Written Comprehensive Exam

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 2019 Comprehensive Exam

Registration Due Date: February 4, 2019
Exam Date: Saturday, March 16, 2019 from 11:30am-3:30pm EST

Eligible students (those who have earned 24+ credits in the HRD program and who have above a 3.0 GPA) may apply to take the departmental written comprehensive exam.

The exam will be held online on Saturday, March 16th from 11:30am to 3:30pm EST. 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.

Application for Departmental Written Comprehensive Exam

Completed applications can be mailed to Marie Pelcin,

*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.

Experiential Project

The experiential project option is a new option for HRD students to fulfill the capstone requirement in the M.S. HRD.  This option will give students an opportunity to use an HR internship (for students without previous HR experience) or a work-based project to complete a thesis-like research assignment.  Please note because the nature of this option may require a work project or internship that spans more than a single semester and students should plan ahead for this option.  

The experiential project option continues to be in design and under review. Please note that this is an additional option that is being created and was not part of the program when current students nearing the end of the MS program began their matriculation.  Students graduating prior to Fall 2018 may satisfy the capstone by taking the Villanova HRD comprehensive exam or a an HR professional certification exam such as the SHRM-CP, SHRM-SCP, PHR, or SPHR.  These options are explained in detail above.

Contact Information

Campus Programs
St. Mary's Hall, Suite 119

800 Lancaster Ave.
Villanova, PA 19085
(p) 610-519-4582
(f) 610-519-5826

Online Program
Call 1-866-220-0017 or visit