166 Argumentative Essay Topics

Writing an argumentative essay is hard enough. But picking a good topic can sometimes get you stuck before you’ve even started.

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Although it seems like a small part of the essay writing process, your topic idea can actually make or break your paper. Suppose the issue you’ve settled on doesn’t carry enough potential to be researched and explored from different sides. In that case, you may end up wasting a lot of time on unproductive work before you finally give up and try to find a better subject.

That’s why we compiled an extensive catalog of argumentative essay topics organized by subject matter that you can use for inspiration. Feel free to browse through all sections or jump to the area you’re looking for.

Choosing a Great Argumentative Essay Topic

Before we jump into the lists, let’s go over what you need to look for in an essay topic.

Many students assume that they can pick an issue first and then think about their essay later. But that actually sets you up for potential disappointment. A topic may seem tenable or defensible at first, but once you dig a bit deeper, it may turn out the issue is settled beyond doubt, and there’s no real point in writing about it. It may also be a good idea to sketch out your argumentative essay outline and even draft a thesis statement before making a final decision about what you want to explore.

Here’s a helpful video that explains the importance of preliminary research:

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Another thing to consider is how fascinating the topic is for you. It’s great to engage your audience, but you can’t really be sure if an issue is captivating for your teacher or professor. But you can be entirely sure if it’s interesting to you. And the more you care about the subject you’ve chosen, the more enjoyable it will be for you to put in the work.

What Makes a Good Argumentative Essay Topic?

It may seem at first that you can write an essay about anything, so why bother thinking too much about the topic? Well, you can write about anything, but not everything you write can fit the requirements of your assignment. An argumentative essay has to fit a specific format and style, and the topic you pick has to conform to those. Here are a few main characteristics of a good argumentative essay topic:

  • Debatable

If no one disagrees with the argument you’re trying to make, what’s the point of arguing about it? Trying to convince your audience that texting while driving is dangerous is a waste of time because the assumption is that most people don’t need convincing. That’s why it’s crucial to pick an issue with at least some validity on both sides.

  • Specific

If your topic is not specific enough, you can’t really make a good point one way or the other. Should we do more to protect animals? That depends—are we talking about rhinos or mosquitos? And who should do the protecting—governments or ordinary citizens? Drill down your topic to something you can make a definitive point about.

  • Defensible

If you can’t find something to back your argument with, then maybe it’s purely a matter of opinion. Are pancakes better than pizza? Who’s to say? A good topic allows you to make a point based on facts. That said, defending an insupportable position is sometimes good practice for pure critical thinking and works great for impromptu assignments where there is no time for research.

Of course, after you’ve picked a topic, you still have to write the actual essay. Here’s a video to help guide you through the process:

166 Argumentative Essay Topic Ideas (Organized in Sections)

Below you’ll find a number of lists of argumentative essay topics organized in sections by subject matter. They range from sports to history and anything in between. Keep in mind that many of the issues have to do with more than one field of knowledge, so there is some overlap between sections.

You may notice that all of the topics are in the form of a question. We’ve done that to make them neutral towards the issue they touch upon, but for the purposes of an argumentative essay, you might want to convert them to a statement that conveys the claim you’ll support in your paper.

Interesting and Controversial

Interesting and Controversial

One of the best ways to ensure your audience is engaged in your essay is to choose a topic that’s, to some extent, contentious. Your teacher or professor is unlikely to doze off if the issue at hand is something that everyone has a strong opinion about. Controversy will make your job easier, too—it’s a lot more painless to do research and write when you have a genuine interest in the topic.

But there’s also a pitfall to hot-button topics, especially age-old ones. There’s a chance the arguments you choose have been made a thousand times already. That’s not to say you should never write about euthanasia or abortion. Just pick your ideas carefully and make sure they’re fresh and original to avoid making your audience yawn.

Below are a few controversial argumentative essay topics from across subject matters to give you inspiration:

  1. Should human cloning be allowed?
  2. Should abortion be subject to stricter regulation?
  3. Should there be greater gun control?
  4. Do video games cause violent behavior?
  5. Should the death penalty be abolished?
  6. Is torture justifiable as an interrogation technique?
  7. Should there be any exceptions to free speech?
  8. Did the #metoo movement go too far?
  9. Is capitalism the only effective economic system?

Education

Education

Most topics on this page can work for any academic level in which students are already versed in research and persuasive writing. But in this section, we’ve collected issues specifically related to education and sorted them into the different stages of school. So besides college, here you’ll find topics that can be used by high school and middle school students.

For College

Below is a selection of argumentative essay ideas that have to do with college life. Is college worth it? Is it too expensive? Read on to find similar questions.

  1. Should everyone go to college?
  2. Is college education overrated?
  3. Is college admission overly competitive?
  4. Are Ivy League colleges worth the cost?
  5. Has college tuition become too expensive?
  6. Should family income play a role in determining who gets a scholarship?
  7. Is a gap year beneficial or a waste of time?
  8. Are some college majors more valuable than others?
  9. What are the benefits of an MBA?
  10. Is an online college degree as good as one from a brick-and-mortar college?

For High School

Here you’ll find a collection of topics related to high school and all of its triumphs and struggles—perfect for students in this age group.

  1. Should schools be required to have security?
  2. Is standardized testing helping or hurting students?
  3. Does high school encourage creativity or conformity?
  4. Should high school students work during the school year?
  5. Should high school students be required to take drug tests?
  6. Should arts education be voluntary in high school?
  7. Should the senior year be voluntary?
  8. Is prom overrated?

For Middle School

Middle school is a great time to start developing writing skills and the ability to make a strong argument. Here’s a list of topics on middle school that are bound to be relatable for students of that age.

  1. Do teachers give middle school students too much homework?
  2. Should energy drinks be banned for middle schoolers?
  3. Should vending machines be banned in schools?
  4. Is school cafeteria food too unhealthy?
  5. Should middle school be single-sex or co-ed?
  6. Is distant learning effective for middle school students?
  7. Should students have a choice on what subjects to study in middle school?
  8. Should learning a foreign language be required in middle school?

Bullying

As a bonus, we’re including a special section on bullying—an ongoing problem at all school levels that’s always worth discussing, including in an academic paper.

  1. Should schools do more to prevent bullying?
  2. Should parents of bullies be held responsible for their children’s behavior?
  3. Where is the line between pranks and bullying?
  4. Do kids bully others because they are mistreated at home?
  5. Is cyberbullying less harmful than real-life bullying?
  6. How should cyberbullying be punished?

For Kids

For Kids

To make children write an essay, even if it’s just one page, you definitely need to give them a topic they care about. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Is it ever acceptable to eat dessert before dinner?
  2. Is it OK for kids to read grown-up books?
  3. Should kids be allowed to watch grown-up movies?
  4. Should children get paid when they get good grades?
  5. Is it better to be a single child or to have siblings?
  6. Do parents treat their daughters differently than their sons?
  7. Should parents punish kids if they haven’t done their chores?

Political

Political

Whether you’re looking for a topic for your political science term paper or simply need a strong topic idea for your persuasive writing class, you’ll find something worth exploring in the list below.

  1. Are US elections representative of the will of the people?
  2. Should the voting age be lowered?
  3. Should voting be mandatory?
  4. Should the Electoral College be abolished?
  5. Should corporations pay more taxes?
  6. Should senators and house representatives have term limits?
  7. Should recycling be mandatory?
  8. Should prisoners be allowed to vote?
  9. Should same-sex marriage be allowed?
  10. Should healthcare be free for everyone?
  11. Will universal basic income be beneficial for society?

Religion

Religion

Religious issues often elicit a strong response, but beliefs are not always subject to rational argumentation. Still, such topics often touch on society as a whole and can be great subjects for a paper.

  1. Should creationism be part of the school curriculum?
  2. Is religion responsible for war?
  3. Is science an enemy of religion?
  4. Should public prayer be banned in schools?
  5. Should religion be taught in schools?
  6. Should laws be affected by religion?
  7. Should churches be required to pay taxes?

History

History

History is always up for debate, and there’s plenty of credible sources to explore, so if you need an essay topic for your history class, feel free to pick one from the list below.

As a bonus, we’ve added a couple of specialized subsections on World War 2 and American history.

  1. Can we ever know the “truth” about historical events?
  2. Is life better now than it was 100 years ago?
  3. Have peaceful revolutions ever led to real change?
  4. What caused the fall of the Roman Empire?
  5. Was Julius Caesar a tactical genius or a deranged dictator?
  6. Did European colonialism help or harm the colonized populations?

WW2

  1. Did nuclear weapons help make the world safer or more dangerous?
  2. Were the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the only way to end World War 2?
  3. Should the US have stayed out of World War 2?
  4. What caused the rise of Nazism in Germany?
  5. Was Stalin’s rule more harmful than Hitler’s?
  6. Could World War 2 have been avoided if Hitler had been admitted to art school?

American History

  1. Who was the greatest US president of all time?
  2. Could the Civil War have been avoided?
  3. Was the Declaration of Independence a declaration of war?
  4. Was the Constitution a proslavery document?
  5. Should the US founding fathers who owned slaves be revered as much as those who didn’t?
  6. How did Abraham Lincoln’s assassination affect Reconstruction?

Immigration, Racism, and Native American Issues

Immigration, Racism, and Native American Issues

Here we have a group of issues that are often related, but we sometimes wish they weren’t. In any case, they’re an excellent opportunity to practice argumentative writing.

  1. Should it be mandatory for Americans to speak English fluently?
  2. Should immigrants who enter the US illegally be granted residency?
  3. Should children of immigrants who enter the US illegally be entitled to public education?
  4. Is affirmative action helping or hurting racial equality?
  5. Should the US government pay reparations for slavery?
  6. Is the Black Lives Matter movement equivalent to the Civil Rights movement?
  7. Should Columbus Day be abolished and replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day?
  8. Should Native Americans be compensated for how settlers treated them?

Science and Research

Science and Research

Here you’ll find topics related to various scientific fields that you’re bound to find evidence on to build a solid research paper.

  1. Should the government fund scientific research?
  2. Should corporate interests influence scientists?
  3. Do people have enough trust in science?
  4. What is the biggest issue facing humanity that scientists should focus on the most?
  5. Should we spend resources looking for alien life?
  6. Is space travel worth the cost?
  7. Do humans cause climate change?
  8. Is fracking harmful to the environment?
  9. Are scientific breakthroughs or government regulations a better solution to the environmental crisis?

Technology and Social Media

Technology and Social Media

Many issues around technology and social media are up for debate, so they can serve as an excellent basis for a persuasive essay.

  1. Is technology helping or hurting society?
  2. Has the internet caused more harm than good to society?
  3. Are we becoming too dependent on computers?
  4. Is technology making us more isolated?
  5. Is AI dangerous for humanity?
  6. Are smartphones dangerous?
  7. Is social media helping us stay connected or making us more lonely?
  8. Are social media companies responsible for the spread of fake news?
  9. Does social media contribute to political radicalization?
  10. Should Facebook be banned from collecting data from users?
  11. Should people be allowed to stay anonymous online?

Health, Medical, and Nursing

Health, Medical, and Nursing

In this section, we’ve curated argumentative essay topics related to health and medicine that are worth exploring.

  1. Should the morning-after pill be sold to underage teens?
  2. What is the best way to fight the obesity epidemic?
  3. Are GMOs dangerous?
  4. Should there be limits on sugary drink sizes?
  5. Is healthcare a fundamental human right?
  6. Should assisted suicide be legalized?
  7. Should doctors be banned from promoting drugs?
  8. Should medical marijuana be legal?
  9. Should parents be able to deny medical treatment for their children?
  10. Are nurses compensated fairly?
  11. Should nurses be allowed to prescribe drugs?
  12. Is the nursing profession better suited for women?

Psychology and Mental Health

Psychology and Mental Health

If you’re struggling to come up with an argumentative essay topic for your psychology class, feel free to pick one from the list below.

  1. Does screen time negatively affect children’s psyche?
  2. Should psychotherapists inform the police if a client admits to breaking the law?
  3. Do dreams have any meaning?
  4. Is positive thinking helpful or harmful?
  5. Can lie detectors ever be trusted?
  6. Are projective tests such as inkblots reliable?
  7. Can hypnosis help us remember forgotten events?
  8. Is prejudice against different people inherent to humans?
  9. Is anxiety ever helpful?

Sports

Sports

There’s no shortage of discussions surrounding sports, but they’re often too specialized to be interesting for the layman. Here are a few broad and contentious ones that can lay the grounds for a strong argumentative essay.

  1. Should athletes be considered role models?
  2. Should coaches make as much money as players?
  3. Should athletes face repercussions if they don’t stand for the National Anthem?
  4. Is football too dangerous?
  5. Is sports betting different from casino gambling?
  6. Is cheerleading a real sport?
  7. Do sports rely too much on computer predictions nowadays?
  8. Should performance-enhancing drugs be allowed in sports?

Music, Popular Culture, and Other Creative Endeavors

Music, Popular Culture, and Other Creative Endeavors

Here you’ll find argumentative essay topics related to music, films, and other art forms that shape today’s pop culture.

  1. Is music getting better or worse over time?
  2. Is listening to music an effective remedy against stress?
  3. Are television shows an accurate representation of the American lifestyle?
  4. Did the golden age of Hollywood pass?
  5. Should celebrities be considered role models?
  6. Should any artwork be censored?
  7. Is art unique to humans, or can it be observed in other animals?

Animals

Animals

If you care about animals, you might want to write an argumentative paper on a topic related to animal welfare. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Should animal research be banned?
  2. Should zoos or aquariums be banned and replaced with wildlife reserves?
  3. Should fur be banned?
  4. Should we stop eating animals?
  5. Should the government try to save endangered species?
  6. Is hunting for sport justifiable, or should it be banned?
  7. Do animals have emotions?
  8. Do pets help kids learn to be caring and empathetic?

Funny, Easy, and Simple

Funny, Easy, and Simple

Sometimes you just don’t want to deal with complex and serious issues or excessive research. That’s why we curated a collection of light-hearted and easy argumentative essay topics.

  1. Is complaining helping us deal with stress?
  2. Is talent more important than hard work or vice versa?
  3. How much compromise is OK in a relationship?
  4. Should couples live together before getting married?
  5. How important is it to keep your home clean and tidy?
  6. At what age do you become an adult?
  7. Are parents entitled to knowing everything about their kids?
  8. How long is it acceptable to stay in a restaurant after finishing your meal?

Looking for a topic for a different type of essay? We’ve compiled a huge catalog in our Essay Topics page. If you want something that carries a stronger emotional charge for your paper, speech, or debate, you can also check out our list of Controversial Topics.

Cite this article as: Jim Peterson, "166 Argumentative Essay Topics," in My Speech Class, March 17, 2021, https://www.myspeechclass.com/argumentative-essay-topics.html.