You are here

BBA Capstone Requirement

Students must elect at least one required capstone course in the Winter term* of their Senior year in the BBA program. Capstone courses make connections between academic learning and the professional world; they include topics that address complex concepts, require diverse skills and perspectives, and are relevant to future professional endeavors. Some capstone courses also include an Action-Based Learning (ABL) component, allowing students to have a direct interaction with a client/stakeholder and a deliverable product that integrates learning and analysis and applies it to a real-world situation. Most capstone courses are three credits. Students can discuss their course selection and planning for a capstone course with their academic advisor. Grades in capstone courses will be distributed according to the elective distribution guidelines.  

Current Capstone Courses*

*Capstone course offerings are subject to change each semester. Capstones currently listed below may be removed and new capstone courses may be added periodically.  

Capstone Action-Based Learning

Capstone Research/Thesis

Professional Capstones

BA 453 - Capstone MAP BA 480 - Senior Thesis Seminar *course requires enrollment in both Fall and Winter terms ACC 418 - Financial Statement Analysis BL 407 - Finance and Banking Law MKT 430 - Strategic Marketing TO 412 - Data Driven Management Decision Making TO 465 - Management Consulting
BE 410 - Business Forecasting ES 414 - Entrepreneurship Practicum MO 468 - The Art & Science of Designing Your Life to Thrive in the New World of Work TO 433 - Artificial Intelligence for Business  
BL 404 - Entrepreneurship Law FIN 422 - Behavioral Finance STRATEGY 492 - Developing Dynamic Capabilities for Corporate Development *not offered in Winter 2020 TO 435/Business Economics 435 - Behavioral Economics & Behavioral Operations Management *cross-listed  

Course Information

Students can access the archive of previous course syllabi via the Kresge Library database.

BA 453:
*information for Winter 2020 

Course Description

Additional Information Provided by Faculty: Capstone MAP gives students the chance to work as a team on a hands-on project for a real-world company using a wide range of business skills and critical thinking.  Projects are sponsored by established companies, startups, and nonprofit organizations.  Guided by top Ross faculty members, students conduct original research, develop workable recommendations, and present their results to company executives.  The challenge is difficult, the work is real, and the experience is irreplaceable.

This course will help students refine the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace by empowering student teams to work independently, design their own schedules, and deliver results for real companies.  BA 453 will teach students to effectively design and organize projects, extract valuable information from multiple resources, and ultimately deliver productive and impactful solutions.  This course is a must-take for any student looking to nail future work projects and add value in their first professional role. 

After enrolling, you'll have the opportunity to bid for projects from a wide variety of sectors, including Real Estate, Energy, Transportation, Media, Non-profit, Start-ups, and many more.  You can also request projects that focus on a variety of disciplines, including finance, marketing, strategy, operations, etc.

Most teams will have three touch points with Executives from their sponsor company: at the beginning, middle, and end of the project.  After some initial training at the beginning of the course, student teams will be responsible for working autonomously to complete their project with weekly meetings with their faculty advisor.

Take this class if you want to:

  • Have a well-rounded experience that involves using your knowledge from marketing, strategy, and other core courses
  • Work outside the classroom on your own schedule
  • Make an impact in a local company or nonprofit
  • Develop translatable consulting experience
  • Network with others on campus and in your sponsor organization
  • Receive mentoring from MBAs and a diverse group of professors

Winter 2020 Projects: This year's project list can be found here and the full description of each project can be found here.

The following videos show BBA seniors talking about their BA 453 experience - be sure to check them out!

BA 453 - Make an Impact

BA 453 - Work with Industry Leaders

BA 453 - Support Emerging Startups

**Please see the BA 453 Capstone MAP FAQ for answers to frequently asked questions.**
**The regular drop/add deadline for the Winter term is January 28 but students in BA 453 will need instructor permission to drop this course after January 20.**

BA 480
*Information for Fall 2019/Winter 2020

Course Description 

Additional Information: The Senior Thesis Seminar is a six-credit, honors-type seminar that requires enrollment in both the Fall and Winter terms of Senior year, for 3.0 credits in each term. Thus, students interested in writing the research thesis to fulfill their capstone requirement should begin planning for this during Junior year to ensure adequate time to register for the course in both Fall and Winter terms of Senior year.

ACC 418
*information for Winter 2020

Course Description 

Course Information Handout

Additional Information Provided by FacultyThe course presents an integrative framework for business analysis, business forecasting, and equity valuation using quantitative and qualitative financial information. In this important Capstone course, you will gain a rigorous understanding of the conceptual interdependencies between the various business theories you have been exposed to in other courses (for example, strategy, accounting, finance) and how to apply these concepts to make practical, real-world business decisions.

For example, we introduce stat-of-the-art data analytics tools to analyze a firm's financial performance to date, forecast its future performance and estimate its intrinsic value implied by these financial forecasts. Furthermore, we study the relation between a firm's business strategy and accounting numbers reported in financial statements, illustrate the latest techniques and information sources used by Wall Street professionals, discuss the impact of global and domestic economic trends on financial ratios used in performance evaluation, review the effect of managerial talent on the future financial success of a business, and learn how to convert qualitative data into quantitative value estimates.

This Capstone course includes real-world, action-based learning, cases that demonstrate the process of integrating various business theories and large amounts of data in an applied manner. For example, you will engage in a "live" forecasting exercise where students forecast a company's future quarterly performance. This project will involve retrieving real-time data about the industry, company, management plans, and analyst opinions, and apply the theoretical business analysis framework to construct financial forecasts. Once the company announces its financial results, we critically examine the reasons for any deviations between the forecasted and actual numbers.

As a final Capstone learning experience, students are engaged in a comprehensive final project. This project will require students to demonstrate the practical integration of several business disciplines to make an investment decision. This project has a written component as well as a short presentation in which the students demonstrate their ability to communicate complex business information in an effective manner.

The Financial Statement Analysis course is suitable for anyone pursuing careers in finance, consulting, accounting and is a must-take Capstone course for anyone interested in pursuing a career in the business world!

**Please note, ACC 312 is required for ACC 418.  ACC 312 must be completed or taken concurrently with this course.**

BE 410
*Winter 2020 updates coming soon!

Course Description 

Course Description: Making well-informed decisions usually requires making forecasts of relevant variables.  Therefore, good forecasts are more likely to produce good decisions.  The emphasis of this course is to build upon topics studied in students' courses thus far and learn statistical and econometric methods related to constructing and evaluating forecasts.  The goal of this capstone course is for students to obtain a hands-on experience with using economic and financial data to construct and evaluate forecasts.  Students will be expected to conduct various economic forecasting exercises using real data and work on a team research project in which they forecast variables of their choosing.

BL 404
*Winter 2020 updates coming soon!

Course Description

Course Information Handout

Additional Information Provided by Faculty: Law provides entrepreneurs with many opportunities for competitive advantage. This course offers an examination of various legal issues every entrepreneur should understand to make good business decisions. This course will address legal concerns that arise when leaving your current employer to start a business, creating an appropriate ownership structure, funding the venture, negotiating and contracting with vendors and customers, assembling your team, and global issues. This course will assist you in your ability to work with legal counsel.

This is a course for entrepreneurs and other business managers.

Legal matters are too important to delegate to persons who may not understand the broader business objectives. Entrepreneurs and managers need to understand the fundamentals of the law just as they need to understand the fundamentals of accounting, finance, and human behavior. As managers rise in the corporate hierarchy, they increasingly face legal issues they are ill equipped to handle. Most entrepreneurs and managers do not have a legal background. They often do not know the right answers or even the right questions to ask. If an entrepreneur is not sensitive to legal issues, he or she will not know when to call in the lawyers. Once the issue has turned into a problem, it is often too late to do anything other than damage control. For example, an entrepreneur planning to leave his or her current employer needs to know enough law to be sensitive to whether their activities violate trade secret laws, their fiduciary duties, or contractual restrictions on post-employment competition.

Proper use of the law and the legal system can increase realizable value and limit the downside risk. First, understanding law helps entrepreneurs and their financial backers position enterprises in the legal posture most suitable for their business. Many legal organizational structures and governance models are available. The structures offer different degrees of flexibility and freedom for the parties to define their relationships. Second, law protects a business from destructive competition by others. Law encourages competition on the merits, not on fraud and manipulation. Third, law can protect innovations by granting the inventors or their firm’s limited property rights.

GUEST SPEAKERS: We are fortunate this semester to have the opportunity to hear from some guest speakers. Our guest speakers are practitioners with experience with business startups – either as entrepreneurs themselves, advising entrepreneurs, or providing venture capital. The speakers will demonstrate the important and practical aspects of addressing legal concerns.

COURSE GRADE: The course grade will be based on 6 course projects [#1 Agreement between founders (10 points); #2 Contract Negotiation (10 points); #3 Contract Drafting (10 points); #4 Form of Business (10 points); #5 Assembling your Team (10 points); #6 Shark Tank (50 points)], case write-up assignments (20 points), and class participation (20 points).  Attendance and class participation will also be taken into account in the case of borderline grades. 

BL 407
*information for Winter 2020

Course Description

Course Syllabi (from Winter 2019)

Additional Information Provided by Faculty

  • Learning Goals: BL 407 is designed to develop leaders of financial firms who are prepared to fulfill the legal aspects of their business responsibilities.  The course focuses on the circumstances leading up to the recent Financial Crisis and the legal and regulatory responses to the crisis. Students will leave this course with (1) relevant knowledge about the laws and regulations governing financial companies, (2) an understanding of how financial firms achieve competitive advantage by reducing legal risks and using the law to create economic value, and (3) well-reasoned views and opinions about financial regulation to contribute to future policy debates.
  • Class Format: The course is divided into six modules: Introduction to the Law of Finance; Commercial Banking; Investment Banking and Securities; Systemically Important Financial Institutions; Shadow Banking and Derivatives; and Corporate Governance, Supervision, and Enforcement.  Each module begins with class sessions in which students will learn pertinent legal principles through assigned readings, lectures, and in-class discussions.  Each module also includes one or more case studies drawn from real-world lawsuits or enforcement actions.  Case studies will challenge students to apply their knowledge and to create strategies for reducing legal risk and maximizing firm performance.
  • Team Project: Students will divide into teams to complete a semester-long project designed to (1) deepen understanding of the legal concepts discussed in class, (2) challenge students to identify relevant legal constraints governing financial firms, and (3) develop strategies for maximizing value in light of those constraints.  The team project demonstrates students' abilities to integrate concepts from across the BBA curriculum with the legal principles we student in this course.  By the end of the semester, each team must submit a 15-page written paper and deliver a 12-minute presentation to the class.  Project topics are discussed on pp. 3-5 of the course syllabus.
  • Who is this class for? The concepts explored in this course will form a valuable foundation for students pursuing careers in many fields, including investment banking, financial services, private equity, consulting, accounting, and law.

ES 414
*information for Winter 2020

Course Description

Course Information Handout

Additional Information Provided by Faculty: ES 414 will provide you with first-hand entrepreneurial experience within a structured, supportive context. You will have the opportunity to draw upon and apply knowledge you have gained in previous classes. You will also learn – and put into practice – new tools and techniques that can help you to successfully identify, assess, and pursue attractive business opportunities.

During the team projects, you will learn about a broad range of important entrepreneurial activities, including: Identifying significant unmet needs; Solution ideation; Business model generation; Marketing and selling; Negotiating; and more.

In addition to team project work, ES 414 will include lectures and guest speakers, discussions and exercises designed to help you understand and apply these tools and techniques.

The Entrepreneurship Practicum will require creativity, resourcefulness, and hard work. But our goal is to make it a rewarding (and hopefully enjoyable) experience for those who participate. By the end, you should be able to identify/assess attractive business opportunities and have a better sense of how to foster an “entrepreneurial mindset.” Most importantly, you will have a deeper understanding of how to create value for your customers, for other members of the value chain/ecosystem, and for your company.

Should you take this course? Only if you…

  • Might one day want to start a business or social venture
  • Are interested in working for an existing startup, now or in the future
  • Plan to work at a large company or nonprofit organization and want to contribute to innovative projects that help drive the company’s growth

FIN 422
*Winter 2020 updates coming soon!

Course Description

Course Description: Finance 422 will survey developments in behavioral finance.  A great deal of recent research has focused on the behavior of individual investors and how that behavior deviates from the way in which individuals have been modeled by economists.  The findings are useful for individual investors who want to avoid making mistakes.  They are also useful for future managers that will supervise traders and for those that would like to trade opposite the investors with biases.  Finally, they can be useful for students that want to develop new finance technologies that help people avoid behavioral biases.  Beyond covering behavioral finance, the course will discuss some strategies to succeed in a world where some traders have biases.  Since FIN 422 is a professional capstone course, students will be expected to engage in behavioral finance research and submit a research paper at the end of the semester.

MKT 430
*information for Winter 2020

Course Description: This is the capstone marketing course at the Ross School of Business.  The purpose of this course is to develop sustainable marketing strategy keeping in mind the external dynamics of product markets.  Another objective of the course is targeted towards students with career interests in marketing, strategy, consulting, general management, and entrepreneurship. The course content spans multiple industries including technology, manufacturing, media, and consumer packaged goods. Material is presented using a mix of cases, lectures, live cases, and a group project.

MO 468
*information for Winter 2020

Course Description

Additional Information Provided by Faculty: As you launch your post-Ross journey you will experience a great deal of change.  Some of this change you can anticipate (new geography, new schedule, and new dress code, new boss, new coworkers).  Other changes may sneak up on you (personal impact of evolving business landscape, job loss, challenging relationships with managers & colleagues, changing personal priorities).  The course will introduce you to the science to help you learn to thrive for personal and professional success in the world of work.  

Through this course you will reflect upon and synthesize your academic studies and action learning experiences to proactively craft a meaningful career and life.  Specifically you will learn to apply your evidence-based management knowledge to adapt to your evolving professional and personal priorities, and the changing business world.

Students will (let their creative juices flow as they) engage in a variety of individual and group assignments.  Individual assignments include mapping exercises that reveal your experienced based knowledge, conducting in-depth interviews with people at different career stages to help you craft a launch plan for a thriving future, and weekly practice challenges that equip you with science-based thriving practices.  In teams, students will contribute to a collective field-guide that can be used as a resource now and in the future to thrive in the new world of work.

*course not offered in Winter 2020

Course Description

Course Information Handout

Additional Information Provided by Faculty: The course is an experientially-focused program on strategic growth – a challenge that faces small firms and large. We combine course work with a semester long strategic consulting project. This year we will be working with P&G and Avis Budget Group (on Zipcar). This capstone is ideal for students who are entering careers in consulting, investment banking, corporate finance, product management, and marketing.

The course is organized into these primary modules:

  1. The start-up: What are the challenges facing a start-up firm? How can an entrepreneurial firm grow given its financial and resource constraints? We focus on developing a sound business model and the importance of execution. 
  2. Beyond the early years: We focus on resource constrained firms who have been in existence for a few years but have been stagnating or growing slowly. We identify mechanisms for competing with limited resources against incumbents with path dependent advantages.
  3. Large firms: Large firms find it difficult to meet shareholders expectations for growth.  Since over half the value of the firm is dependent on its potential for growth, large firms have to explore and exploit opportunities. This module will examine the trade-offs that firms make as they look to maintain and grow the business.
  4. Competing in the new economy: The rules of competition have changed significantly as networks, standards, and platforms become increasingly important. We examine how firms gain competitive advantage in this new context.
  5. Mode of growth: We look at modes of growth comparing organic growth with alliances and mergers and acquisitions. Under what circumstances is a particular mode of growth preferred and what are the pitfalls in each mode is briefly discussed.

Throughout the course we will develop an understanding of how the resources and capabilities of a firm can be leveraged for organic growth and conditions under which firms have to go outside the firm for access to capabilities. Most often we use brief 4 to 5 page situation cases that ask you to become the decision maker. The discussion in class revolves around how to think about growth in different context and some of the more popular frameworks that could overcome the uncertainty involved in growth strategy. We use about ½ the class to develop an understanding of how to evaluate strategic growth options and ½ to work on projects. In addition, student teams will be required to meet with their MBA project advisor for ½ hour on a weekly basis.

There is a semester-long action learning project. Students work in small groups to conduct a strategic consulting project for a business. The project involves learning about the business, identifying potential growth avenues, and preparing a report on possible growth options for the firm. This year we will be working with P&G and the Avis Budget Group (Zipcar).

TO 412
*information for Winter 2020

Course Description

Course Information Handout

Additional Information Provided by Faculty

Course Overview: The need to access, gather, manage and analyze data has become an essential part of any business decision process.  Whether working in finance, marketing, or consulting, the ability to combine specific discipline knowledge with advanced data tools is clearly a sought after skill.  In this course students learn how to work with large data sets in order to derive business insights in a variety of business disciplines.  To do so, students get hands-on practice with a number of software tools that are often used by companies to access, manage, visualize and explore real data in a range of business contexts.

Tools Taught: This course teaches basic tools used for the acquisition, management, and visualization of large data sets.  Students learn how to:

  • Create, manage, and query databases via SQL;
  • Quickly construct insightful visualizations of multi-attribute data using Tableau;
  • Use the Python programming language to manage data as well as connect to APIs to efficiently acquire public data (e.g., from Twitter).

Unique Setup: This course includes a large portion of hands-on work.  After learning new material in a lecture, students will work in teams during class time on an assigned list of tasks.  A final team project will enable students to integratively apply all the covered tools to a real-world context.

Programming: As the so-called digital economy grows, there is a growing need for analysts and managers who can either code by themselves, or understand enough of coding to have meaningful conversations with their programmers.  TO 412 is a great introduction to programming.

Who Should Take This Course? The tools and concepts taught in this course would be very useful for students going into consulting, marketing, product managementand business analytics.  Students going into these jobs will be expected to know how to retrieve data from companies' databases and then query and analyze the data in order to make the right business decisions.  This course teaches students how to approach situations requiring the use of data, how to acquire the needed data, query it, and present the results visually in a way that is easy to communicate to other managers.

TO 433
*information for Winter 2020

Course Description

Additional Information Provided by FacultyAfter the inaugural offering in Winter 2019, TO 433 - Artificial Intelligence for Business, has been redesigned based on student feedback. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become part of our lives. The speed that AI is being researched, developed, and applied in various contexts (e.g., decision-making, manufacturing, service) is breathtaking. For example, robo-advisers provide financial guidance, Facebook relies on AI to detect fake news, Amazon uses AI to find what suits best to their customers, Netflix depends on AI to provide show recommendations to their customers, UBER uses AI to determine its customers' willingness to pay, radiologists use AI in interpreting digital scan images, Tesla depends on AI to help drivers to avoid crashes, and the list goes on. These technologies and applications will be even more important in the future for individuals, businesses and other organizations since they drive innovation, save costs, increase quality for products and services, and simply daily life for humans.

All these new applications and recent developments offer a great promise for individuals, organizations and societies. AI based products, services and tools will not only be an advantage for businesses but a necessity to remain competitive in the future. At the same time there are considerable risks and unsolved implications such as reduction in employment, responsibility determination when AI fails (e.g., crash of a self-driving car, a wrong disease diagnosis) and ethical dilemmas (e.g., a patient death, automatic missile launch). Future business leaders need to understand and leverage AI while mitigating its threats.

TO 433 - AI4B, aims to provide students with a conceptual introduction of AI, a broad understanding of AI's basic techniques, how AI is applied to problems, future applications of AI, and an awareness of the challenges, risks, and ethical considerations of use of AI in business.

TO/BE 435 (cross-listed)
*information for Winter 2020

Course Description

Additional Information Provided by FacultyBehavioral Economics uses what we know about psychology and behavior to develop new tools to improved decision making and change outcomes for consumers, employees and organizations.  Behavioral Operations Management applies those insights to the core value creating activities of firms and organizations.  You may be familiar with some of these ideas if you have read Thinking Fast and Slow, listened to Freakonomics Radio, or have heard of "nudging."

Using behavioral insights has been a growing trend in business and government.  Major companies like Google, Amazon, Uber, and PwC have developed internal behavioral insights teams to transform their practices.  Behavioral consulting firms such as BEworks and Ideas42 help even more companies test and implement behavioral interventions.  New companies like Lemonade, Humu and Applied have been built from the ground up to leverage these ideas to create value.  This course will give students the tools and frameworks to apply behavioral insights for themselves and their organizations to make real change.

This course consists of introducing core behavioral concepts, and then showing how they can be used to change behavior.  We will be very applied - showing students examples of real organizations making successful and impactful behavioral interventions - to give students a toolbox for their future careers.  We will also see how these behavioral forces shape markets - both from firms trying to take advantage of our biases, and trying to provide us solutions.  This course will also be very integrative, drawing on much of what students have learned at Ross - especially psychology, economics and operations.

For example, we will discuss:

  • Why we procrastinate and how to make a habit that sticks
  • How overconfidence leads to bad plans and bad investments, and what to do about it
  • Why we care more about losses than gains - and how this shapes incentives
  • How firms sell us self-control, take advantage of our inattention, and get us to compromise our privacy

The final project presents students with a broad problem area of societal/managerial importance, and asks students to identify a specific problem within that space to address using a behavioral intervention.  This year the broad problem area will relate to sustainability.  Students will draw on the concepts from the course to identify the underlying behavioral drivers, propose a solution to change behavior, and consider how their solution could be implemented and evaluated.  Students will need to develop an argument for why their proposal will be successful, and why it should be implemented by the relevant stakeholders.  This will equip students with tools to immediately use behavioral insights to make an impact on their future firms and organizations.

TO 465
(Management Consulting Capstone)

*Information for Winter 2020

Course Description

Course Information Handout - sections 1 and 2

Course Syllabus (Winter 2020 draft)

Additional Information Provided by Faculty

  • Learning Goals:
    • Allow for the practical application of core disciplines
    • Learn and apply methods used by today's leading consulting firms
    • Prepare for entering the professional workforce and serving clients
    • To effectively complete the analysis and present financially justified recommendations, students will draw upon their prior Ross coursework and a variety of tools.  This will include work in requirements gathering, strategy development, spreadsheet modeling and simulation, proposal evaluation, financial planning, go-to-market development, and executive-level presentation.  In addition, students will gain exposure to fundamental consulting techniques including project methodology, deliverable creation, client expectation management, interviewing, workshop design and execution, persuasive presentation, remote delivery, and relationship development.
  • Class Format: The course simulates a management consulting engagement.  Students work in teams to develop a Business Transformation Strategy. Final presentations are made to partners from top consulting firms (McKinsey & Co, Deloitte, Accenture, E&Y, etc.). Teams are given a high degree of autonomy and direct their own work. See syllabus and flyer for more information. 
  • Who should take this class? Students entering consulting (mgmt., ops or technology) or any other professional services career that involves client service

Effective Fall 2018, the following courses no longer meet the capstone requirement: TO 482, MKT 401, and MO 463.