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In fact, the terms “dissertation” and “thesis” are interchangeable. A thesis as well as a dissertation is a written discourse on the given subject. Although, there are 2 essential differences between a thesis and dissertation. A thesis means that you have to conduct original research. A dissertation implies that you have to synthesize the information collected and perhaps, include your thoughts on it. The second difference lies in the degree you obtain after completing these papers. A thesis allows getting the higher degree; a dissertation is more likely to be the smaller part of the 1st degree.
When writing a thesis or dissertation, you will have to take into account the first difference we have presented. If you have to write a thesis, you should be aware of the fact that you are to put forward a hypothesis that is absolutely new, your thesis implies that original research is involved. Writing a dissertation requires your knowledge of the recent discoveries. You have to draw absolutely new conclusions on the basis of what you have read and analyzed.
Thus, a thesis and dissertation are similar kinds of written papers, though differing a bit from each other. Dissertations and theses provide the opportunity to get certain grades. Theses or dissertations have to present the student’s knowledge of the certain subject area; both dissertations and theses have to provide innovations in certain areas of investigation.
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Potential ideas for non ‘study’ capstone projects include:
- Write a clinical case study (specific to nursing, medicine, pharmacy, public health or social work). The case study is most useful if developed as a teaching tool with a particular audience in mind (e.g. nursing case study for undergraduate nursing students or pharmacy case study for first year pharmacy students).
- Author a clinical case study from the perspective of treatment in a resource constrained setting (potentially to be used as a teaching tool in the GH573 Clinical Management of HIV course).
- Create a plan for a program evaluation for a particular agency (or conduct a portion of an existing program evaluation).
- Develop health education materials for an agency.
- Write a mock grant application or assist in writing a portion of an actual grant application (for example, you may write the literature review for a grant application). Mock grant applications should be done in the format of a well known granting agency such as the NIH. Examples can be found on the Graduate Certificate Program website.
- Write a policy memo analyzing a particular program or intervention (e.g. for an NGO to use in advocacy efforts or to inform a representative from a ministry of health). In the past students have written memos on issues such as male circumcision.
- Complete an internship at an HIV/STI clinical site. There are very limited internship opportunities. If you are interested in spending time at Madison Clinic or a community based agency, please meet with the Certificate Program Manager as early as possible to allow for ample planning time.
- Write a paper exploring contextual aspects of HIV/STI (intersections between gender and HIV, analysis of international AIDS policy).
Potential ideas for research-based projects:
Note that any original research projects may require human subjects approval which can take several months to receive. If you are planning to conduct any original research you must meet early with your UW mentor, Program Coordinator and Program Director to plan accordingly.
- Provide technical assistance to ongoing HIV/STI research studies (development of study instruments, interview tools, data analysis, field implementation, laboratory testing).
- Submit data at a conference or write a paper to submit to an academic journal.
UW mentor or Director of Certificate Program will provide you with more specific expectations for the project you decide to undertake.