How to Write an Academic Proposal


The purpose and structure of academic proposals can vary greatly, depending on the intent, audience, topic and subject matter of the academic proposal. One common type of academic proposal is the research proposal. Within an academic context, the research proposal outlines the purpose and function of the research and what would be needed to complete it. All academic proposals have the ultimate goal of gaining support and ultimately approval for an idea or concept.

  • Give your academic proposal a descriptive and topical title. This title should tell those who will read the proposal what it's about instantly.

  • Write a one page introduction to your academic proposal. The intended audience is a general reader who has no expertise in the field. Be specific, but keep the explanations simple.

  • Add a section to address the specific purpose or purposes of your academic proposal. Explain what you want to accomplish or prove once your proposal is approved in more detail than the introduction. It's now acceptable to use technical terms.

  • Tell the reader why your academic proposal is significant in the next segment. Explain the relevance and importance of what you want to do or prove and what can be changed based on your conclusions, such as policies.

  • Include questions that need to be answered about the topic you're addressing. This is particularly important in a research proposal. By addressing questions, it adds validity to your proposal and establishes a sense of urgency for your research.

  • Explain how you will conduct yourself if the academic proposal is accepted. For example, you might explain how you will conduct your research or how you will put your new academic policy into place. Specific headers for this segment will vary, but might include overview, analysis, interpretation and expected results.

  • Add a bibliography section to your academic proposal if you used any outside sources.

Tips & Warnings

  • These are basic guidelines for a general academic proposal. Always check the specific requirements of your course, university, program or department before submitting the academic proposal.


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