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How to structure your dissertation proposal properly, and why is it so important?

Dissertation proposals carry immense importance when you are applying for a post-grad degree programs in well-reputed universities. This importance increases many folds when you aim to secure funding or a scholarship for your degree program. A doctorate-level program the proposal can make or break your application to secure funding. One must not confuse the research paper with a research proposal.

The quality of your proposal is not only about the quality of your project idea but also how well it is written. The quality of the dissertation proposal often decides the fate of two equally able candidates, so it is imperative to understand how to structure a dissertation proposal that stands out. You must pay an equal amount of consideration from title to dissertation conclusion.

The structure of a well-organized dissertation starts with a title, and it ends at the bibliography or references encasing chapters of abstract, introduction, review of literature, and dissertation conclusion in-between. Some universities may ask you to follow their template for proposal, but a general proposal is structured as follows.


The title is the foremost interaction of your research proposal with your audience. It must be able to predispose the reader in favor of the proposed idea. Try to make your title concise, catchy, and informative, if possible. A good title is to the point, cohesive, and capture the reader's interest.


It is a short summary of around 300 words entailing the research question, hypothesis, the reason for the study, methodology, and instruments involved in the study with a brief overview of the results and dissertation conclusion. Keep it concise.


Write the introduction intended to provide your reads with the need for the research you perceive to carry out. Pose the research question and give the historical context of your problem statement. Posing your problem statement can be a tough job as there is no hard and fast rule for how to enlist your research question.

  • Start by stating the purpose of the study.
  • Provide the context and build-up towards the research question
  • Explain the worth of your research, why it is important, and why it should be carried out.
  • State your experimental approach and hypothesis

Review of literature

A portion of the literature review is sometimes added in the introduction section. Some professors prefer a separate chapter for the literature review. A literature review strengthens your research problem as you can quote the grey areas of the previous study. It also helps to provide a sense that other researchers also shown keen interest in similar topics. Provide evidence for your argument with support from other scholars' work. Properly cite the sources using the accepted style in your discipline.


At this stage, you won't have the results, but you need to write what your anticipations are after the conclusion of this study. Give an idea of what you expect to achieve.


Discuss the potential impact of your researcher with sheer enthusiasm and confidence to persuade your readers to put faith in your ideas.

If you need further information on proposal composition, you can consider this set of guidelines from the University of Southern California.