Writing a Thesis Proposal: Key Principles

A thesis proposal is an important part of every student’s educational process in a graduate school. It needs to be presented so that the research can be started. If the proposal (be it an undergraduate thesis proposal, graduate thesis proposal, or a doctoral thesis proposal) is an attractive one, it has more chances to be accepted. Thus, knowing how to write a good thesis proposal may give more hope for acceptance from the academic committee of any institution.

The whole procedure is a lengthy one and there are certain parameters to be met during the process. There are a number of thesis proposal examples present online, which you can use as reference, but they would offer little help even if you go through all of them. The thesis proposal needs to be written in the present and future tense because the work still has to be done. Here is a list of suggestions so that the readers can write a proposal for thesis effectively and without excessive, unnecessary effort.

Thesis Proposal Outlining

Not sure where to start and how to write a thesis proposal for Master’s degree? Then begin with outlining; search your library to find perfect samples of how to write a thesis proposal outline, and create the guidance for your entire proposal writing process. For those not knowing how to write a thesis proposal, template examination may be a vital pre-writing stage; from strong, flawlessly written samples, you can get valuable tips on how to write a senior thesis proposal, how to write a thesis proposal for PhD, and other types of proposals.


Start with a strong thesis proposal introduction of the work which is being proposed; the introduction is the overview of the whole project and it can be written at the end of the proposal. In this way, the whole project will already be overviewed in a better way and the writer won’t neglect any important aspect. Try to write an introduction of one or two pages so that the length won’t bore the readers. Once other sections of the proposal have been written, different chunks from every section can be transformed into an inclusive, comprehensive introduction.

Problem statement

Create a research question and change it into a statement to make a problem statement. Every problem statement is unique for a specific study. There are a number of disciplines and studies going on, so the problem statements have to be different. Remember to make the problem statement interesting and topical, prove the existence of the problem by using statistics and examining the magnitude of the problem. It is also helpful to show what financial impact the problem has on your state/country/the world; such an assessment will guarantee acceptance of your proposal from the committee. Not sure about this part of writing? Search for “how to write a thesis proposal sample” works online or in your library; there will be surely tons of advice in this regard.

Importance of the background

Explain the background of the problem and convince the readers about its importance, all “how to write a PhD thesis proposal” sample writers emphasize the importance of this section. Try to provide three to four reasons of the problem’s significance for the society and the world. For example, if the research relates to a disease, you should mention how many people are being affected due to this disease. Provide examples of the problem, which would really back up the importance of research. The background could also include the inspiration or reasons why out of all the topics, a certain topic is being chosen by the researcher.

The significance of the study

Try to give powerful arguments in favor of your study and how it could affect the world in a positive manner. The arguments need to state how the work would become a step forward in accordance with the previous work being done in the respective field. This particular research needs to acknowledge the previous work done in the field and fill a certain gap that so far has been left out. In this way, a thesis proposal can be formulated based on not only giving compliments to the work already done, but also providing a fresh perspective.

thesis proposal writing

The methodology

In this part, the researcher needs to explain the methodology he/she is going to apply in the research. It has to be figured out as early as possible because once the proposal has been accepted, the researcher would have to deal with a number of other things like data collection, analysis, literature review, etc. Try to explain more than one methodology that can be used in order to solve the problem. It might also be valuable to mention the merits and demerits of each method so that the readers can compare them with each other. By doing this, you will show your competence in the field of research methods and will provide a thorough explanation of why your proposed method should be used instead of other methodological alternatives.

Literature review

Try to write about the studies that support and oppose the approach you are following. In this way, the reader would have a clear picture of your approach as compared to others. Try to place the approach in front of the readers in a critical way by comparing it to previous studies. Also include the alternative theories and approaches about the same problem being addressed and try to relate to them in your own manner.

Defining the terms

The researcher needs to define each and every technical term being used in the proposal. Any term without a definition would confuse the readers, which is not good for their comprehension. If the readers are unable to understand the proposal, how would they approve it? Try to explain each technical or theoretical term being used in the proposal to add clarity to your proposal, which may raise the chances of proposal’s approval quickly and without revisions.


The challenges expected in the process need to be explained in the proposal. There could be a number of hurdles and challenges to overcome during the process, which could become the study’s limitations, so the scope of the project is defined by these challenges. The spectrum of the research outreach needs to be as concise as possible, only then it is possible to achieve effective results.

State the assumptions

The assumptions need to be stated in the proposal as well; it is not necessary that these assumptions are truly validated at the end, but the researcher needs to show that he/she has a clear understanding of the problem. Once the researcher understands the problem properly, the assumptions can be made. In order to prove these assumptions, it would be necessary for the supervisor or the authority to accept the proposal.

Describe the procedure

Describing the procedure properly is really important in the thesis proposal. Each step of the procedure needs to be explained. Interpret the data in a clear way because the data never speak of itself, so presenting the data in an efficient way is really vital for any project. The committee will confirm the proposal and let you go on with the research only if you show what exactly data you are planning to collect, from which population you are going to gather it, and how you approach its analysis and plan to interpret it. Hence, include as much detail about the research procedure as possible to make your proposal worth approval.

Long-term impact

Explaining the long-term impact of the project should be a vital part of an ideal thesis proposal. The impacts of the research after two to three years must be explained to the readers. Tell the readers the expected effect of the study, both on theory development and on practice. The researchers need to present the significance of the study to readers to show how beneficial the study could be for a group of people or the whole country.


It is important to state the result you are expecting to derive from your study. It is more important to list the hypothesis and how you anticipate it. Try to write less about the process of how you are going to achieve those results but more on what is expected of the study.


The illustrations can be really helpful in making a point of view clearer. Picture says more than a thousand words and that is the case with illustrations in the thesis proposal. Try to include as many pictures and graphs as necessary to let the readers understand the point you are making. The illustrations could also help the readers compare one theory with the other, which would be beneficial for you.


Summarizing the whole proposal could be a really exhausting task but it needs a lot of attention. The whole thesis proposal needs to be represented in the conclusion along with the future aspects of research. Mentioning some future projects related to the research could give you an added benefit in the eyes of the authority. Go back towards the beginning of the proposal and touch each and every point of the proposal in a brief manner. The readers need to go through the whole proposal once again at the end to understand it properly, but it should not be too long.


Once the proposal has been written, it needs more than one revision. The researcher should contact with a senior or someone who has already published a thesis. There could be a number of mistakes – for example, grammar mistakes, punctuation, and structure issues. The revision is important because these mistakes need to be straightened out before presenting the proposal to the committee. The final touch is writing an abstract – if you are not sure about how to write a thesis proposal abstract, study the structure above and make sure to include the key points into the abstract: it should be short and concise, but detailed about your background and aims, research method, and expected findings.

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