You have spent the last couple of years in a committed relationship—with writing. Love them or hate them, essays have been by you through thick and thin.
So when you walk into class and your professor says you’re going to do something new today, your heart starts beating faster, and it feels like there are butterflies in your stomach.
Then, your instructor pops the question—”Will you write a proposal essay?
You might not think you’re ready to take the plunge into proposal essays just yet, but don’t get cold feet! This type of essay can be super easy (and also pretty fun) to write.
All you need is the right topic.
The right topic involves planning, research, and passion. Below, I’ll show you how to choose the right topic and give you some example proposal essay topics that you can either use as is or use as inspiration to come up with your own topic.
But First, What Is a Proposal Essay?
Before you try to find that perfect topic from the sea of potential proposal essay topics (and certainly before you try to write one), it’s important to understand exactly what a proposal essay is.
Proposal essays are common in business and science classes and professions, but are also useful for a number of different disciplines.
Typically, these types of essays are not a timed, in-class writing assignment where you’re trying to beat the clock. Instead, they require more time and research in order to formulate arguments and find supporting evidence.
What to Consider When Selecting Proposal Essay Topics
The number of different proposal essay topics out there is pretty vast, so naturally, the essays themselves will differ. However, here are a few common components (and some dos and don’ts!) to consider when you’re narrowing down proposal essay topics to find the perfect match.
Choose something that interests you
For many types of essays, you can fake it till you make it. But for proposal essays, it will be a huge advantage for you to select a topic you actually care about. You’re most likely going to be spending a significant portion of time researching and writing this essay.
It’ll be much more enjoyable if you have some passion for the subject matter. Your reader will be able to tell too. Passion comes through in writing—picking a proposal essay topic that’s interesting to you makes your essay more interesting to the reader.
DON’T: Write about how to get your hair untangled or an effective way to clean a litter box. These topics are boring—and much too simple.
DO: Write about something that could influence you or someone you know. If you have siblings in grade school, write about education. For example, how can children get a good physical education in elementary school?
Spend a lot of time on social media? Use your time productively while you’re there, and mine social media for a topic that interests you.
Choose a proposal essay topic that has support
As I said before, you’re going to be doing a lot of research in order to write your essay properly, so it helps if the topic already has existing literature.
Choosing a proposal essay topic that has both supporting and dissenting research is usually best. Then you can choose which side of the argument you want to tackle.
DON’T: Write about something that’s purely opinion with no facts to back it up. For example, how to make the most out of your Saturday afternoon is not a good topic (although we all know the answer is “sleeping in and watching cartoons”).
DO: Choose a topic with some big, juicy facts you can sink your teeth into. For example, how to fund more educational television like Sesame Street, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and the Magic School Bus lets you still talk about television, but in a structured, fact-based way.
Bonus Tip: When you’re researching, make sure to take good notes. Include the bibliographic information and the page number you found the information on. This will make citations much easier, especially if you’re referencing books and articles from the library.
Pick something that’s actually an argument
Because proposal essays are a type of argumentative essay, you want to be sure the essay is worthy of an argument. Choosing a topic that is too one-sided is, frankly, really boring and doesn’t serve your purpose well.
When writing your essay, you’ll want to address opposing viewpoints. That way you can present a well-rounded proposal. This lets your reader know you have considered all sides of a given topic and have constructed the best proposal given all the variables at work.
You’ll be able to tell if an argument has one side because you won’t actually be able to write a proposal essay about it. It would turn into either a process essay or an argumentative essay (and not a very good one, at that).
DON’T: Choose something like how to make a delicious grilled cheese sandwich. Sure, everyone has a slightly different way of doing it, but it turns into a process essay, not a proposal. Plus, choosing between different grilled cheese methods doesn’t really count as a problem that needs a proposed solution.
DO: Pick something like the ways that farmers and corporations improve the lives of dairy cows. That’s a problem that needs a solution—and it’s a much better topic for your proposal essay.
Consider your audience
Remember, proposal essays serve a purpose outside of academia. So even if you’re writing this for a class and only your teacher will see it, pretend like there’s a more realistic reader who will be deciding whether your proposal is worth investing time and resources into.
Understanding your audience not only makes the writing process easier but also helps you choose the right topic from the many possible proposal essay topics.
DON’T: Choose a topic with an audience you’re not comfortable with. For example, if your audience is a group of academics but you’re terrible at academic writing, it might be best to choose a different topic.
DO: Pick a topic that has an audience you can relate to. For instance, if you’re passionate about and good at writing about social issues, and your audience is a group of volunteer workers, choosing a proposal essay topic about society might be in your best interest.
30 Proposal Essay Topics That Are Easy and Fun to Write
Now that you have an idea about what a proposal essay is and how to choose the right topic to write your own essay, here are some examples of proposal essay topics.
You can write about these topics as is, modify them, or simply use them to get you in the right mindset to come up with your own topic.
Education proposal topics
1. What can be done to create a more well-rounded curriculum for middle and high school students?
2. How can teachers improve sex education courses?
3. In what ways can foreign language courses be improved?
5. How can schools better understand and accommodate different learning styles?
Government proposal topics
1. How can the government better handle illegal immigration?
2. What should be done to lower the national debt?
3. What could be done to make the electoral system more effective?
5. How can state and federal governments lower the incarceration rate?
Parenting proposal topics
1. How can parents raise their children to have a sense of humility as opposed to entitlement?
2. What is the most effective way to discipline a child?
3. How can parents encourage their children to be more active in extracurricular activities?
4. What is the most effective way for parents to teach their children about money?
5. How can parents teach children to be independent?
Science proposal topics
1. What can the average person do to combat global climate change? What can the government do?
2. What should be done to increase the funding for cancer research?
3. How can parents, teachers, and society at large encourage more children to pursue an education in science?
4. How can educational television shows about science receive more funding and airtime?
5. How can educators encourage more women to enter STEM fields?
Society proposal topics
1. In what ways can we reduce childhood obesity?
2. How can the government or society as a whole reduce homelessness in the United States?
3. What would be an effective program to curb illegal drug use?
4. How can we promote more compassionate behavior within US society?
5. What can the United States do to better care for the elderly?
Technology proposal topics
1. How can people reduce their reliance on technology?
2. How can parents and teachers effectively help eliminate cyberbullying?
3. How should children be taught about responsible internet use?
4. In what ways can companies and consumers keep sensitive information more secure online?
5. In what ways can we use technology to create a better learning environment?
Hopefully, one of these proposal essay topics catches your eye. If not, feel free to make up your own topic based off something you care about solving.
Did you notice that most of the topics listed above start with “How can…” and “In what way…”? Let these words guide your own topic selection if you don’t choose one of the above examples. The phrases will lead you to a great proposal essay.
If you choose a topic, write about it, and are left wondering if it’s any good, send it to one of the Kibin editors. We will review your essay and give you suggestions on how to strengthen your argument.
Good luck with your proposal!
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on June 6, 2016, but has been updated with fresh information and additional topic ideas.