How to Write a Research Proposal for a Master’s or PhD

Research Proposal for a Master's or PhD
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So, You Want to Write a Research Proposal?

Writing a research proposal can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time doing so. However, when writing a research proposal, there are several important components that you must include in order to guarantee its success.

These components include an introduction, background research on the topic, your justification as to why this research needs to be done in the first place, the research questions you plan on addressing in your study, what methodology you plan on using to answer these questions, and finally your limitations of the study.

If you follow these steps when writing your own research proposal, you’ll give yourself the best chance at being successful!

The basics

When you break it down, a research proposal is really just a plan for your research project. It outlines what you’re going to do, why you’re going to do it, and how you’re going to do it.

The proposal should be clear and concise so that anyone who reads it can understand what you’re proposing.

Title Page

A research proposal is a document that provides a detailed description of the proposed research. It is usually written by scholars seeking funding for their project from a granting agency.

The title page should include the title of the proposal, your name and contact information, and the name of the granting agency.

Introduction (background, problem statement)

If you’re considering pursuing a master’s or PhD, then you probably already know that writing a research proposal is an essential part of the application process.

But what exactly is a research proposal? And how can you make sure yours is up to snuff?

Results (discussion of results)

Whether you’re applying for a master’s degree or a PhD, writing a research proposal is an essential part of the application process. In fact, many universities won’t even consider your application without one.

How long should a research proposal be?

There’s no definitive answer to this question since it will vary depending on your field of study, the specific program you’re applying to, and the individual requirements of your professor or advisor.

However, in general, a research proposal should be around 10-12 pages long.

Research proposal structure

A research proposal generally follows the same structure regardless of whether you’re applying for a master’s or PhD program.

However, there may be some slight variations in what each individual program is looking for. Here is a basic outline of what you should include in your proposal:


Your introduction achieves a few goals:

  • Introduces your topic
  • States your problem statement and the questions your research aims to answer
  • Provides context for your research

Literature review

Before you start writing your research proposal, it’s important to understand what a literature review is. A literature review is a comprehensive overview of all the knowledge available on a specific topic.

It includes both published and unpublished sources. A literature review can be long or short depending on the scope of the project. For example, a doctoral dissertation will have a much longer literature review than a master’s thesis.

Certainly, in addition to your literature evaluation, you must also prepare a bibliography. Your bibliography does nothing more than list the sources you used and their authors, as opposed to your literature review, where you discussed the significance of the sources you selected and occasionally disputed them.


1. Before you begin writing your research proposal.

It’s important to understand what a research proposal is and what it isn’t.

2. A research proposal

Is a document that outlines the basic idea of your research project and includes the details of your proposed methodology.

It’s used to persuade potential supervisors or funding bodies that your project is worth undertaking and that you have a clear plan for carrying it out.

Recommended reading: Download Project Work, Thesis & Dissertation Formats and Samples for Diploma, HND, Degree, Masters, Mphil & PhD.

Read also: How to Write a Research Proposal | Guide with Examples

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