How to write a thesis proposal

Introduction

Writing a thesis proposal is stressful. A good proposal can make or break your presentation and can be the difference between knocking it out of the park and or completely striking out.

You’re probably wondering the best way to craft your thesis proposal. Guidelines from academic institutions are often frustratingly vague. And without previous experience, it’s difficult to know where to start.

In this article, we’ll cover the most important parts of thesis proposal writing. We’ll explain what a thesis proposal is, outline a well-tested structure, and provide you with some tips for boosting your chances of success.

What is a thesis proposal?

A thesis or dissertation proposal – sometimes also called a “thesis statement” – is essentially an outline for an academic research project. For most undergraduates, approval of a proposal by a professor or relevant college committee is an important step towards fully completing their final thesis and graduating.

Putting in a solid effort at this stage improves your chances of acceptance and achieving a well deserved good grade.

Furthermore, a thesis proposal acts as a personal template for the writer. Once they know that a thesis is likely to be accepted in the form that they have presented it in, they can build on the thesis to create a polished finished product.

Generally speaking, your thesis proposal will fall into one of two camps. On the one hand, a thesis proposal may merely be a formality to show that you are capable of addressing an assigned thesis topic or research question. On the other, it might outline a research topic for which there has been no prior agreement. In the latter case, it’s important that your proposal shows the validity of your research subject, the viability of your methods, and the certainty of measurable outcomes.

How to write a thesis proposal

You should always follow any structural guidelines provided by your professor or college. There will also usually be differences between a master’s thesis and theses for other forms of postgraduate study. P.h.D. theses, for example, will usually be longer and more advanced in scope.

The following structure applies to most thesis types:

Abstract

This should be a summary of the subsequent sections of your proposal. Describe the central research question or hypothesis, provide an outline of the methodology, emphasize the importance of the research to the field, and briefly mention any important literature.

Project statement

In this section, you should elaborate on your central hypothesis. Provide every necessary detail and explain how your hypothesis will fit the current research. You may also want to mention any benefits that your thesis outcomes might have.

Literature review

The literature review fulfills two goals. First, it provides an overview of the current state of your topic. Secondly, it offers an excellent opportunity to communicate your expertise and understanding. Be sure to cover all the relevant literature and research papers and include a list of references.

Approach

When outlining your methodology, you should be as specific as possible. The proposal reader needs to know that your intended methods are viable. Which scientific experiments will you take on? Which written resources will you consult? What are the exact processes you will use to gather data?

Limitations

It’s also crucial to define exact boundaries that your project will not cross. Outline which areas you do not intend to cover and how you intend to keep your thesis on-target.

Contributions to knowledge

How will your finished thesis contribute to your field of study? Academic theses tend to solve a single small problem that forms part of a much bigger issue. Be clear about where your contribution will lie. This is your opportunity to persuade your professor on the value of your work.

Proposed chapters

Finally, you can also provide a chapter-by-chapter outline of your thesis, forming a concrete picture of what the final product will look like.

Institutions will usually give instructions on how to format your cover (or “signature”) page and which details to include. This title page is a very important part of a thesis so guidelines should be followed. You may also wish to include a table of contents.

How to write a thesis proposal in PandaDoc

Proposal software like PandaDoc provides you with a host of tools for improving the quality of your proposals. While “smart apps” are usually considered the domain of businesses, they are acquiring a growing following among academics.

Simple but incredibly powerful features like content libraries, collaboration, and automation features, embeddable signature fields, and more, allow proposal writers to dramatically streamline their workflows.

Follow the steps below to create a thesis proposal in PandaDoc:

  1. Log into PandaDoc or sign up for a free trial if you’re a new user.
  2. Select the “New Document” button.
  3. Select a Blank template from the available options. You will be taken to the editor.
  4. Select the Content Tab button from the menu on the right and drag-and-drop the necessary blocks and fields into the document from the toolbar.
  5. Select the Recipients tab from the right-hand menu and add the relevant recipients.
  6. Click Send to review, craft your message, and send the document.

Conclusion

Writing a thesis proposal is never easy. But with the tips described above, you have everything you need to get off to a head start. What’s more, PandaDoc makes crafting your thesis a breeze. Why not try it free for 14 days to see for yourself?