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120 Compelling Topics for Your Next Argumentative Essay

Christina Crampe

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Most people like to argue—whether they like to admit it or not. But when the time comes when it's actually appropriate to take a side and passionately defend it (say, an argumentative essay in your writing class), you might find it difficult to think of what to argue about and how to argue effectively. An effective argumentative essay will leave the reader questioning what they think about a topic, and maybe even change their minds.

Whatever kind of argument you choose to write about, always be sure to back up your claims with solid research and facts. Though you can definitely have an opinion in this essay, your argument will always be more credible when bolstered facts rather than relying simply on how you feel. When you find yourself getting stuck on what to write, take a look at these ideas for argumentative essays for some inspiration for your paper, or to expand on these ideas and create your own topic.

What makes a good essay topic?

Though you may know what format and style guide to use, you may be in the dark about what actually makes a good essay topic. While it may be easier to write an essay on something that is easy to agree on (like the fact that George Clooney is a very handsome man), there's just really not a lot of interest in the topic because it is something everyone already knows to be true. What we're looking for in an argumentative essay topic is something that might expand people's minds and allow them to look at an issue in a new light. The idea isn't necessarily to convince them of your side (though of course that would be ideal!), but rather to get them to expand their mind just enough that they start to think about things from another perspective.

You'd be surprised at what years of social and cultural influences, education, and just plain stubbornness can do to make a person adamant that their side and opinion are right. Argumentative essay topics are so important because they are debatable—and it's crucial to always be critically thinking about the world around us. Why do we do things a certain way? Is it because it's right or is it because this is what we've always known? To constantly be questioning and arguing and thinking is really the true sign of learning. As we start to think about that idea, here are a few ideas to get you started on your own essay.

Education essay topics

students raise their hands in a classroom
Argumentative education topics can range from teaching style to course content. Photo by Syda Productions.

Education is a topic that definitely affects each and every one of us. Education scholars are constantly evolving the way they think about how we learn and what is taught. So while these ten ideas are enough to get you started thinking about education and its role in society, the essay topics are really endless:

  1. How do you feel about the Common Core State Standards? Do you feel it hurts or helps K-12 students?
  2. Should we ban vending machines in schools? Consider the types of snacks and drinks found in vending machines.
  3. Should charter schools replace the public school system that we know now?
  4. Do you believe that the decades since Brown v. Board of education have actually brought about racial equality in education?
  5. How does the socioeconomic standing of a child's parents affect their education opportunities?
  6. Many policymakers are pushing STEM education. Why is this?
  7. How does gender affect education? Consider how different gendered students are treated by staff and what they are encouraged to pursue after school.
  8. Do traditional discipline methods really work on students? Consider the role of detention, suspension, and expulsion.
  9. Why do other countries measure ahead of the U.S. in education?
  10. Does homeschooling disadvantage students?
  11. Should teachers be allowed to discuss religion with their students?
  12. Should public schools be given the authority to ban certain books?
  13. Do you think school systems should offer courses in financial literacy and/or practical skills (e.g., the woodshop and Home Ec of old) to their students? If so, at what grade should students begin to learn these skills?
  14. Do you think high schools need to place a greater focus on preparing their students to choose a major/field of study in college? How would this inhibit/improve their college learning experience?
  15. How does the presence of a dress code in schools impact different students? Consider identity factors like biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and religion.
  16. How can we make college more accessible to all interested students?
  17. Should passing standardized testing be a requirement to graduate from public high school? How does this requirement impact different groups of students?
  18. How can school systems implement or improve sexual education courses for their students? Should schools be required to offer these kinds of courses?
  19. Should students who participate on sports teams be required to complete physical education classes in school?
  20. What kinds of emergency training programs should teachers and students be required to complete to stay safe in school?

Parenting essay topics

parents reading a book to their child
Argumentative parent topics can range from parenting style to the roles of mothers/fathers in the home. Photo by Twinsterphoto.

Who raises us and how they do it can really have a huge effect on the culture and society as a whole. Nearly everyone has an opinion on how children should be raised, but which one is right? Is there a right answer? How do politics affect how we raise our children? These are the kinds of things you will be exploring when you write a parenting argumentative essay.

  1. Should men receive paternity leave?
  2. Why do we have obstacles in the United States for women to receive paid maternity leave?
  3. How can we get childcare costs down in the United States?
  4. What is the best parenting style?
  5. What are some lessons that American parents can learn from other cultures?
  6. How does successful and proactive parenting affect a child's literacy skills and learning potential?
  7. How do overprotective parents affect children's lives? Consider the different types of attachment this may lead to between parents and children.
  8. Should parents be allowed to spank their children? Consider the potential consequences or benefits, if there are any, of corporal punishment.
  9. Should there be more accommodations made to make safe breastfeeding in public easier and more accessible?
  10. How can children get additional support in a single-parent household?
  11. What are some of the positives and negatives of raising a child as gender-neutral? Is this style of parenting beneficial in raising an independent thinker?
  12. Should there be stricter requirements for prospective parents to adopt a child?
  13. Should there be incentives to having children in America? What can the U.S. learn from other countries that provide extra support to new parents?
  14. Do you think new parents should be required to take courses on topics like nursing, CPR/Heimlich Maneuver, and other classes that teach safety and nutrition?
  15. How involved should a parent be in their teenager's personal life?
  16. How does raising a child with extremely strict rules affect the parent/child relationship in the future?
  17. Does gentle parenting rear more inclusive and independent children?
  18. Should parents limit their children's screen time?
  19. At what age should parents introduce toys and activities geared towards child learning and growth?
  20. Should single parents be given extra assistance by the government to help raise their child?

Gender equality issues topics

diverse group of colleagues working on a project together
Gender equality issues topics can include equal pay in the workplace, women's rights issues, and gender stereotypes. Photo by Fizkes.

Women have only had the right to vote in the United States since 1920. In just over 100 years of suffrage, women have certainly accomplished a lot when it comes to equality. However, according to many scholars and activists, there is still a long way to go. With a subject that's sure to ignite some passion, there are endless topics to write about, but here are a few that we suggest.

  1. Should abortion be legal?
  2. Should religious institutions be required to provide birth control methods for their female employees, even if it goes against their religion?
  3. Should emergency contraception (aka "the morning-after pill") be legal?
  4. Statistically, women do not make as much money doing the same work as their male counterparts. How do you feel about this and what can be done to change this inequality?
  5. Many say that legal sex work is a women's rights issue. Does it apply solely to women? Consider how sex workers are treated in America and why it is that people feel as though they need to turn to sex work.
  6. Should women have to register for the draft?
  7. What are the biggest challenges for women in the workplace?
  8. How long should maternity leave be?
  9. What are some of the biggest challenges for female politicians?
  10. Why do you think the Equal Rights Amendments (ERA) failed? Do you think one such law could ever pass in your lifetime?
  11. Who or what defines gender?
  12. How do gender stereotypes influence male and female professional athletes and the sports industry?
  13. What does it mean to be a feminist? Why is the concept of feminism so often greeted with negativity?
  14. How do the marketing and advertising industries influence the continuation of gender stereotypes?
  15. How are careers continually gendered? Consider what kinds of jobs are associated with females versus males.
  16. How does history's interpretation of parental roles influence modern conceptions of gender roles?
  17. Should both men and women receive paid parental leave?
  18. How can we increase conversations surrounding men's mental health? Consider how men may have been raised to be unemotional and not share their feelings.
  19. What can be done to change society's views on single mothers?
  20. What are some ways men and women can adopt a truly equal share of child-rearing practices and household chores to maintain household equality?

Legal essay topics

a row of prison cells
Legal argumentative topics can include questions about prisons, courts, and specific legislature. Photo by Shuttershudder.

There are many things to argue when it comes to the law. Law is constantly evolving with the ever-changing culture at large. Because of this, many disagree on how the laws should change (if they should change at all) and there are many topics to choose from. Here are a few of our picks.

  1. Should there be a federal law that allows marijuana to be legal?
  2. Should a person have the right to choose when they die? Consider how other countries treat this subject compared to the U.S..
  3. At what age should you legally be allowed to drink?
  4. Would you support harsher punishments for athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs?
  5. Is it an infringement on religious rights to have business owners provide services for LGBTQ weddings if they don't agree with the marriage?
  6. Should religious institutions be allowed tax exemptions?
  7. Should the death penalty be banned in the U.S.?
  8. Should a felon be granted the right to vote after s/he has served his or her sentence?
  9. How do you feel about more restrictive gun laws and universal background checks?
  10. Should citizens who entered the country illegally be forced to leave? What about their children who were brought here?
  11. Should men be allowed to vote on policies that affect female bodies?
  12. Do stricter laws need to be passed to maintain the separation of church and state? Consider the role of religion in modern day politics.
  13. Do you think every state should have the same laws regarding the legal age for marriage?
  14. Is our jury system fair?
  15. How often should a new president be elected to office? Do you think we need to change our current rules?
  16. Should there be strict age restrictions and term limits on the people voted into office, including Congress members, judges, and presidents?
  17. Should teachers be required to carry guns?
  18. Do you think cigarettes and other tobacco products should be outlawed?
  19. What, if anything, does the presence of police in schools do for students?
  20. Should freedom of speech protect hate speech?

Technology essay topics

pile of computers, laptops, phones, cords, and headphones
As technology continues to develop, it has a large and lasting impact on our society and the way we function and interact. Photo by vejaa.

Our country and our world are extremely dependent on advanced technology. It has completely changed the way we work, think, and communicate with each other. Many people are huge fans of new gadgets and rapidly advancing technology, but others are more wary of it. There are always a wide range of opinions on the subject of technology, and here are our favorite things to think about on the topic.

  1. Is an increased dependence on technology making us less intelligent?
  2. How do devices like smartphones and tablets affect growth and development in children?
  3. Do you think technology has decreased or increased our communication with each other? Consider the speed at which news is spread and what kinds of news is spread.
  4. Is print media dead?
  5. Do the comment sections on social media and news sites actually promote good discourse?
  6. Technology has made a lot of manual labor obsolete. How do you feel about this?
  7. What should blue-collar workers do when their job has replaced them with better technology? How should policymakers respond?
  8. Has online dating affected traditional ideas about romance and marriage?
  9. Do you believe that the government should enforce net neutrality principles on internet service providers?
  10. In what ways, if any, is technology making us more dependent?
  11. What are the potential benefits and consequences of introducing technology, such as smartphones and laptops, in the classroom?
  12. Should restrictions on technology be put into place to limit the number of jobs technological devices can replace?
  13. Does technology aid in the spread of false information and/or a rise in panic about current events?
  14. Do you think there should be stricter parameters to monitor what kind of technological advances are made? Consider the ethics behind particular technological advancements that influence the scientific manipulation of nature like genetic mutation, cloning, and other procedures.
  15. Social media apps have age limits, yet they are easy to bypass. How can we make social media age restrictions stricter to protect today's youth?
  16. Should laptops be provided to college students? Consider how a student's background affects their ability to purchase their own device.
  17. Should smartphones and social media apps be allowed to ban certain words in messaging/comments? What are some potential benefits/consequences of banning particular words or phrases?
  18. Do you think there should be restrictions on the presence of advertisements in technology? Consider how often you come across ads in social media apps or during a Google search.
  19. Should everyone have unrestricted access to the Internet?
  20. Are technology companies taking advantage of the consumer market by constantly introducing new and improved products? Are these products necessary, or are they just quick money grabs?

Society and culture essay topics

protestors raise their fists in the air during an outdoor protest
Society and culture issues raise questions about how societal and cultural institutions, norms, and expectations affect the ways people act and interact. Photo by PPstock.

There are always things we wish would change about the society that we live in. Nothing is ever perfect, but we all still strive to make where we live to be the best it can be. The problem is that everyone's interpretation of what makes a good society is different. Some people live their lives according to their religion while others don't think you should factor that into decision making when it comes to determining rules for everyone.

  1. How does cultural discourse surrounding sex and sexuality impact youth in their pursuit of romantic attraction and relationships?
  2. Do you think that affirmative action is still necessary?
  3. Is there too much pressure placed on today's youth to take on and solve decades-long societal and cultural issues they did not create?
  4. Should you be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance at school?
  5. Should it be illegal to burn the American flag?
  6. Do you think peaceful protest is possible, or is it inevitable that protests will become violent?
  7. Do you think collegiate athletes should be paid?
  8. Can the perpetrators of sex crimes be rehabilitated?
  9. Do you think the Electoral College should be abolished?
  10. Should the United States have one official language?
  11. How do social institutions – economic, political, religious, etc. – determine who is and who is not successful?
  12. How do cultural expectations – beauty, parental, economic – affect mental health? Should there be more conversations surrounding mental health?
  13. Do you think it would be possible for our prison system to move away from incarceration and towards rehabilitation?
  14. How do our social institutions influence our country's incarceration rate? Why does the U.S. have the highest incarceration rate?
  15. Is there systematic racism within the U.S. judicial system?
  16. How does someone's socioeconomic background influence their ability to attend higher education and get a job?
  17. Should the United States implement universal health care?
  18. Do you think anything can be done to deconstruct culturally accepted gender roles? Consider how peoples' background – family and education – influence their interactions with gender roles.
  19. Should there be stricter regulations on social media apps? How would this influence popular culture's influence on adolescents?
  20. Do you think society needs to do a better job of encouraging people to embrace their culture and be unique instead of pushing them to fit a cultural expectation and norm?

Portray your passion

When it comes to writing an argumentative essay, the most important thing to do is to choose a topic and an argument that you can really get behind. Not only will this make the writing a whole lot better, but it will also keep you more focused when you are researching and writing. Though it's unlikely you're going to feel a fiery passion about every subject you write on, pick the topic and side that best suits you. No reader wants to read a lukewarm argumentative piece. The reader wants to be persuaded and provoked. This won't happen if it appears you are uninterested in what you're writing about.

If you've read through this list and you still haven't found a topic that covers what you are interested in, be sure to ask your instructor or a librarian for help with researching and writing an argumentative essay. Similarly, if you have written an essay and you're not sure that it's going in the right direction, seek out the guidance of classmates or other writers, or get help from a professional editor.

Header photo by Ming Jun Tan.

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