The Capstone senior research project is the culmination of the undergraduate experience at SAFS. Capstones provide an exciting opportunity to put class learning into practice and allow students to make a lasting contribution to their field of study. 

Capstone projects can address any topic in the aquatic and fishery sciences. Opportunities include:

  • Research questions provided by a faculty member
  • Independent design of a research project
  • Group research projects, typically conducted by up to three students
  • Research opportunities provided by a field site program (e.g., Alaska Field Camp, Friday Harbor Labs)
  • Expansion of an internship (FISH 498) or independent research (FISH 499) project into capstone research

All SAFS majors are required to complete a capstone project as part of their degree program. We recommend that students begin thinking about and preparing for their capstone experience during their junior year—the formal process typically takes place during a student’s senior year but in some cases, students may petition to begin their capstone earlier.

Students complete their capstone under the mentorship of a UW faculty member. Information on SAFS faculty research interests and expertise may be found here.

More information is available on the SAFS Capstone Experience website (includes a list of past capstone topics and FAQs).

Capstone Procedures

The capstone project requires completion of three courses taken in order over a minimum of three quarters.

IMPORTANT: It is up to the individual student to register for capstone courses in a timely manner and in the correct order – failure to do so may result in registration fees and delay in graduation. Students are responsible for resolving any errors and resulting fees.

1. FISH 493 Capstone 1: Proposal (1cr) This class is a pre-requisite for FISH 494 and is offered Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters. Includes defining a capstone research question, conducting a literature review, preparing a project proposal and budget, reviewing peer proposals, and attending/critiquing the quarterly capstone symposium. Required for graduation for majors. Prerequisite: FISH 290

To enroll in FISH 493:

  • You must have successfully completed FISH 290
  • Contact Greg Jensen, Capstone Coordinator, for an add code. Students will also need to have the following:
    • An idea for a research project
    • A faculty mentor for your project (browse faculty here)

2. FISH 494 Capstone 2: Research (3cr) Self-directed research or project under direction of a faculty member. Includes defining research question, determining methodology, data collection and analysis. Required for graduation for majors. Prerequisite: FISH 290; FISH 493; Q SCI 381

To enroll in FISH 494:

  • You must have successfully completed FISH 493
  • Submit FISH 494 Capstone 2 Contract to Greg Jensen, the Capstone Coordinator, who will provide an add code

3. FISH 495 Capstone 3: Research Synthesis (3cr) Self-directed research project under direction of a faculty member. Data analysis, writing a paper, and presenting findings. Required for graduation for majors. Students also give an oral presentation on the project at the SAFS Undergraduate Research Symposium or a similar, approved venue. Pre-requisite: FISH 494.

To enroll in FISH 495:

  • You must have successfully completed FISH 494
  • Submit FISH 495 Capstone 3 Contract to Greg Jensen, the Capstone Coordinator, who will provide an add code

Honors Capstone

SAFS students enrolled in the Departmental Honors Program should enroll in the Honors section of FISH 495 (3 credits) and meet the following additional criteria:

  • Submit a draft of the research paper to the Capstone Coordinator and two additional professionals in the field; incorporate any feedback into the final version.
  • In addition to the usual oral presentation, Honors students must also present a poster of their project at the SAFS Quarterly Undergraduate Symposium or comparable venue.

Capstone Adviser

Dr. Greg Jensen serves as the Faculty Capstone Coordinator/Adviser. He keeps records of research opportunities in the school, helps students set up projects, collects the paperwork, gives out entry codes, reviews research proposals and budgets, serves as a resource for students and faculty throughout the process, and coordinates the quarterly SAFS Capstone Symposium. Greg can be reached at or 206-543-6132.

Capstone Frequently Asked Questions




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