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How to Write a Research Proposal for Graduate School Application

How to Write a Research Proposal for Graduate School Application

How to Write a Research Proposal for Graduate School Application is a crucial aspect of the process of applying to study abroad. The research interest is crucial for the research-based graduate studies, given that a decision to admit a student partly depends on the availability of a faculty member to supervise the research. There must be a clear and focused area of academic interest. That is, the proposed research topic you want to explore during your graduate studies.

What is a Research Proposal?

A research proposal is a brief and methodical summary of your proposed research. It sets out the central problem or questions that you intend to address in your research. It highlights the general area of study within which your research falls, referring to the current state of knowledge and any recent debates on the topic.

Your research proposal should:

  • demonstrate evidence of intellectual purpose and originality;
  • show that you are capable of communicating your ideas clearly, concisely and coherently;
  • define the topic you are interested in and show good awareness of the research context.

Typical proposals range between 1,000 and 1,500 words; however, it is advisable to consult with the school specific requirements.

Structuring your Research Proposal for Graduate School Application

Please check with the relevant School for the specific requirements and expectations of your research proposal. The following are general considerations that we deem important:

  • Create a clear working title for your research project.
  • Introduce your proposal, identifying the subject for research in terms of theoretical issues and relevant empirical applications, and highlighting why you wish to pursue this project.
  • Review  the relevant literature and theories relating to your proposed research area, showing that you clearly understand the key arguments that have been developed and the ideas and findings of key researchers working on the topic. This should demonstrate your familiarity with the subject area, and your ability to communicate clearly and concisely.
  • Summarize the central aims and questions that will guide your research.
  • Outline  the research methods you will use, explaining how you will conduct your research. What form will the resources take? Where are they located? Will there be any problems of access?
  • Indicate your project strategy and timetable. What are the main project stages? What would the annual completion expectations be? What are the perceived challenges, and how will these be overcome?
  • Explain why your proposed  project is important. How will your research make an original contribution?
  • Include a bibliography highlighting the key references that will support your research topic.

It is important that you contact an academic member of the School’s staff to discuss your research proposal and key objectives before you submit your formal application. This will enable you to fine-tune your proposal and check that they can identify a suitable supervisory team for you.


Tips for Writing a Strong Research Proposal for Graduate School Application

  1. Follow the instructions and requirements
  2. Break down your proposal into point form before writing your first draft
  3. Know your audience
  4. Make an impact in the first few sentences.
  5. Have a clear title.
  6. Show that your research is feasible
  7. Clearly indicate how your research or scholarship will make a “contribution to knowledge” or address an important question in your field.
  8. Get the proposal reviewed and commented on by others.
  9. Remember that the research proposal is amendable as it is not set in stone.
  10. Ensure that the Proposal is concise and coherent!

Refining your Research Proposal

When you submit your research proposal for application purposes, you will not be committing yourself to the precise detail or methodology. Once you are accepted into the program, you can refine your original proposal following discussions with your supervisor or supervisory team.


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