After four years of intensive courses, research, and extracurriculars, the NYU Abu Dhabi Capstone Project is the culmination of every student’s academic experience. During this yearlong independent research project, NYU Abu Dhabi students explore their interests and make a serious contribution to their chosen field. This demanding endeavor takes a student’s full senior year to complete and results in a significant work that can be creative or research-based.

Student Ryan Choi standing next to his Capstone Project.
Go Broad or Narrow: Pick What Matters to You

The Capstone Project can be an opportunity for fourth years to coalesce research at the intersection of multiple interests. Conversely, it can also be a chance to take a deep dive into a single topic. Focusing on a student’s passion, it often ties together four years of thinking and learning. Ryan Choi, an Art and Art History major, found that a course he took in his first year helped him form his thinking around his Capstone Project. Curatorial Practice with Professor Salwa Mikdadi asked the class to collaborate on an exhibition. They handled the entire process, from choosing a theme to installing the art.

For his NYU Abu Dhabi Capstone Project, Ryan used all he had learned to create (In)finite, his own art gallery show featuring three contemporary South Korean artists. The original course and his experience independently curating a contemporary art show offered Ryan a unique opportunity. “Curatorial studies, as far as I know, is not really offered at the undergraduate level,” he says. Therefore, he adds, he is at a real advantage when it comes to kicking off his career or applying to graduate school.

The topic options for Capstone Projects are limitless. And many are immediately applicable to today’s most complex issues. Recent research projects include an exploration of the solidarity model of refugee support in Greece and an investigation on the effects of light on mood disorders. For more creative students, a musical composition, performance, or narrative could be the perfect fit. Recent artistic projects include a performance about third-culture kids and a project that designed a cost-efficient, environmentally friendly educational building. While working on their projects, students also participate in a capstone seminar. This course brings together fourth years to discuss the capstone process, present works in progress, and offer each other feedback.

A collage: 1) a headshot of Anh Mai 2) a student working with a petri dish.
Faculty Guidance Keeps You on Track

Although each project is independent and entirely student-led, students regularly meet with a faculty mentor who oversees the process. They offer advice and resources and ensure that the project stays on track. Computer Science and Mathematics major Anh Mai worked closely with Professor Azza Abouzied, principal investigator of the Human Data Interaction Lab at NYU Abu Dhabi, on a project that suddenly gained new relevance during the COVID-19 global pandemic. His Capstone Project, “Policy Optimization in an Epidemic,” is designed to help governments and nongovernmental organizations implement interventions in response to disease outbreaks. Since graduating last year, he has continued to work in Professor Abouzied’s lab, identifying and categorizing different classes of epidemic simulator. “Providing a readily accessible and reliable simulator that decision-makers can experiment with in response to an epidemic is my ultimate goal,” he says.

Sharing Your Achievements with Your Peers

At the end of the year, fourth years present their work at a university-wide event. Together, they celebrate their achievements and share their experiences. It’s a moment that allows them to reflect on all their hard work and thought leadership. An ideal way to end the rigorous NYU Abu Dhabi experience, the Capstone Project is an opportunity to truly contribute to your chosen field. Many students even continue their projects into their working years, whether by staying on as a research assistant in their adviser’s lab, attending graduate school for further study, or leveraging their work into an exciting first job.

Recent Capstone Projects
  • Pearl Fishing in the “Persian Gulf of Mannar”: A Reconceptualization of the Gulf of Mannar and the Persian Gulf as Shared Spaces, c. 1850–1950
  • Drone Capturing Aerial Netting System
  • Behavioral Responses of Coral Reef Fish from the Thermally Extreme Persian/Arabian Gulf to Temperature and Time of Day
  • The Young Expat: The Development of Expatriate Adolescence in the UAE
  • Do We Expect Women to Volunteer More Than Men? Framing and Gender Differences in the Game of Chicken
  • Trade Liberalization and Labor Demand Elasticities: Empirical Evidence from Indonesia
  • Automated Classification of Modes of Moral Reasoning in Judicial Decisions
  • Transitions of Single Men with High School Degrees or Less in and out of the Labor Force

For more NYU Abu Dhabi Capstone Projects, check out this list of 10 Capstone Projects that prove NYU Abu Dhabi students are global thinkers.