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How to Write a Graduate Level Argumentive Essay


A graduate-level argumentative essay is a formal essay on a particular topic. This type of essay requires you to make some sort of argument or put forth a position. Your main argument will be the crux of your essay and it will be conveyed in your thesis statement. A argumentative essay for graduate school should have a strong and concise thesis statement, which will then be supported and proven in the body of the essay. Because it is assigned in graduate school, you will be asked to use more resources, show a deeper understanding and offer a stronger argument than in an undergraduate writing assignment.

Organize Your Thoughts

A graduate-level argumentative essay is not a collection of facts or statements about a particular topic, poem, story or novel. Instead, it is a piece of writing which gives you the opportunity to showcase your ability to reason. You should begin your essay by carefully considering the topic in order to organize your thoughts and opinions. If you are given specific instructions, these instructions will limit the scope of your essay in some way. For example, the instructions might ask you to analyze and write an argumentative literary analysis essay about Mark Twain’s novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Develop an Argument

Instructions in your graduate course about the argumentative essay will mainly ask you to analyze, compare, evaluate or explain something. You may be asked to analyze the structure of a novel or a particular situation, compare two or more stories, events or positions or evaluate or explain the effect of something based on a particular kind of criteria or evidence. For instance, you might make an argument about the effect of a poem’s tone on its mood, compare the effects of two solutions to a problem and argue which one is better or evaluate the quality of a foreign policy initiative.

Write Thesis Statement

After developing your argument, you should try to boil it down to one sentence. This sentence, also known as a thesis statement, will be the basis of your formal essay. A graduate-level argumentative essay about a novel might have this thesis statement: While his portrayal of Colonel Sherburn in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is easy to dismiss as just another satire of a Southern gentleman, Mark Twain uses Sherburn to deliver a visceral attack on the cowardice of man."

Structure Your Essay

Once you have written the thesis statement, you can then structure the rest of your essay. You should place your thesis statement at the end of your introduction and use the rest of the paragraphs to support the position that you have established in your thesis statement. In other words, your formal essay should be centered on your thesis statement and the rest of your paragraphs should be coherently organized to contain evidence that supports or proves your main argument. In addition to the introduction and the body paragraphs, your graduate-level essay should also have a conclusion which succinctly summarizes the essay’s position. In the most basic form, a graduate-level essay will not differ much from an undergraduate essay. The difference will be found in the level of writing and sophistication your professor expects in the final result.

About the Author

Kate Prudchenko has been a writer and editor for five years, publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, and book chapters in a variety of publications including Immersive Environments: Future Trends in Education and Contemporary Literary Review India. She has a BA and MS in Mathematics, MA in English/Writing, and is completing a PhD in Education.

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