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How to ace the dissertation proposal in 5 steps

A proposal for a dissertation differs from the dissertation abstract because it’s proposing your idea. The proposal allows you to set out what you want to do and how you might accomplish it; it isn’t an outline of what you’ve done because you haven’t started it yet. Write this proposal as if you’re asking someone for money (their approval) for a brilliant idea (your dissertation) and you’ll do great. There are a few steps to writing anything well, and a dissertation proposal is no exception. Here are a few general writing tips that will also help a lot with your proposal.

  1. Start with an outline. Think about what you need to say in the proposal and do a brief summary of what should be in each part. Even for a one page document, outlining can save you time.
  2. Do you need to do any research? Usually a proposal is about putting forth an idea, but the more knowledgeable you seem about it, the more the board of advisors is likely to approve it. If they realize that you’re experienced enough to know that this is a good topic, then you’re one step closer to getting in.
  3. Write the proposal quickly and then put it aside for a few days. Keep thinking about your dissertation and what you want to do with it, but don’t look at your proposal until you’ve slept on it at least one night. After going back to it with a fresh perspective, you can start to edit.
  4. Editing should be your main focus. It’s what makes any writing, mediocre to terrible, great. Think about everything you want to do with your dissertation and why it’s an important topic to write about. Put your passion into the words in your proposal.
  5. Lastly, get another person to read it. Having some perspective after a few days for you is good, but will never compare to having a person read it that’s completely unfamiliar with the material. Have them tell you their opinion, whether or not they’d approve you, and what you can improve on.

Following those five steps will get you well on your way to proposal acceptance. Make sure that you’re as accurate as you can be while at the same time letting your uniqueness and personality shine through. In the end, it’s your dedication and willingness to see it through that probably matter more than the exact subject.