How to Write a Thesis Proposal

Posted: March 27, 2017 To: Study


The proposal. It seems as though it should be such a simple little thing. It’s not long; it’s not a complex research paper; and it’s not written for a grade. And yet, to write a thesis proposal that gets approved is sometimes one of the most frustrating parts of beginning a thesis or dissertation.

What is a Thesis Proposal?

Because grad students have never written one before, they are often unclear as to how to write a thesis proposal. The first thing to understand is that your proposal is like a “map” for your advisor and/or committee to review and approve before you can go forward with your project. It has the following components which all must be included:

1.Your Research Question and/or Hypothesis

In general, a Master’s thesis proposal will include a hypothesis – a statement of what you believe will be the outcome of your research project. A PhD. thesis proposal will usually include a research question – an area of research, the outcome of which is not stated. Whether you are working with a hypothesis or a research question, your proposal must include a very clear statement in the very beginning.

2.Justification of the Hypothesis or Question

You have to “prove” to your advisor or committee that the research you are about to conduct is worthy and important to your field of knowledge. What contribution do you hope to make through this research and why is it important?

3.Background Research

What preliminary research have you done that has pointed you in the direction of the research you now want to do? You will need to summarize this for your advisor or committee, so that they understand you do have some background knowledge that led you to what you now want to do.

4.Design and Methodology

You will need to present the research design you intend to use as well as the methodology for implementation of that research. For example, will it be quantitative or qualitative? Will you use population samples or will you used experimental and control groups? How do you plan to analyze the data you collect?

5.Your Timeline

Your advisor and/or committee will want to see you plan for completion of each section or chapter. Generally, writing a thesis for a Master’s will consume a minimum of a semester. For a Ph.D., students should plan on 12-18 months, as the research question will be more complex and may involve longer-term implementation as well as a deeper literature review.

Preparing to Write a Thesis Proposal

The best piece of advice in this whole proposal writing business is to stay calm. Rarely are they approved the first time out, especially if there is a committee involved.

You will find that everyone has a bit different perspective, and those perspectives will result in modifications they want in your proposal. One committee member may want you to review an additional piece of literature and work it into your proposal; another may suggest some changes in your design or propose that you use an already-normed instrument; still another may want you to re-phrase your hypothesis or research question in some small way.

Pleasing everyone can be a frustrating part of proposal writing for thesis projects, but it is very common. Many students end up tweaking and re-submitting 2-3 times before final approval is given.

Getting Help

If you are struggling with your thesis proposal, there is no shame in getting help. As picky as advisors and committees can be, it is sometimes just the smarter thing to do to contact a professional writing service and request your thesis proposal online from a Ph.D. in your field. These experts know how to craft them in a way that has a far better chance of approval the first time through. The faster you can get that proposal approved, the faster you can get on with your project.