Rock Valley College

Thesis Statements

Express the main idea of your essay 


A thesis is a statement that conveys the central idea of an essay. All the points, details, examples, and research in the body paragraphs should develop and prove the thesis. Think of this statement as a roadmap for readers. It gives the audience a specific focus and sense of direction for following your ideas. 

Traditionally, the thesis is at the end of the introduction. The location could change depending on your paper topic and your instructor’s directions, but thesis is normally at the end of the introduction to provide direction for the rest of the essay. 

The thesis statement should be one to two sentences. If your thesis is longer than this, then it is probably too broad and needs to be more focused and straightforward. 

The thesis should be brief, concise, and complete. Since it needs to express one main idea, it should not be too broad and try to discuss several points all at once. A thesis should also not be so narrow that it cannot fully express an idea. Because you need to prove your thesis, it should be an opinionated statement and not merely a fact or already accepted idea. Additionally, the thesis is a statement of your position on the topic or issue rather than a question. Remember, you are answering the question of what your opinion is on a topic. 

Follow this formula: Thesis = Claim + Evidence. The claim is your opinion, or position, on a topic. It should be argumentative and defensible, meaning you can logically support your position. Evidence is your reason for the opinion you express in the thesis, or why you hold your position on a topic. Even though the thesis is comprised of your opinion and reasons, avoid saying this outright. There is no need to expressly state, “In my opinion, firmer government intervention is needed to keep global warming under control.” There is also no need to announce that the paper will argue this, as in “This paper will argue that firmer government intervention is needed to keep the global warming under control.” In other words, removing the underlined portions of the example sentences above, leaves you with a more fluid and sophisticated thesis. The reader already knows the paper reflects your beliefs, so the reader should be shown, not told, what the paper will accomplish.

To be clear, here are more examples of making unnecessary disclaimers in your writing: 

  •  Incorrect phrasing: I believe that all K-12 schools should be required to include an art program.
    Change to: All K-12 schools should be required to include an art program. 
     
  • Incorrect phrasing: This paper will argue that the author of “Internet Era Ignorance” fails to recognize the contributions the Internet has made to higher education.
    Change to: The author of “Internet Era Ignorance” fails to recognize the contributions the Internet has made to higher education. 

Thesis statements come in a variety of forms, so select the one that matches your assignment prompt.

Types of thesis statements include: 

  • Claims of Definition are often used when explaining a concept. This claim asks and answers: What is it? How should it be classified? How should it be interpreted? How does its meaning change in a particular context? For example, if a student is writing about Artificial Intelligence, a sample claim of definition would be: “Many people assume that humans are the most intelligent species, but Artificial Intelligence will soon eclipse a human’s ability to adapt.” 
     
  • Claims of Cause are appropriate for a Cause and Effect essay. This claim asks and answers: What caused it? Where did it come from? What are the short- and long-term effects? A sample claim of cause would be: “Because of the progress made in Artificial Intelligence, it looks like future generations will not have to worry about caring for their elders as robots will be tending to most people’s daily needs.” 
     
  • Claims of Value assess the significance of a subject. This claim asks and answers: How good/bad is it? What is it worth? Who says so? What do these people value? What measures should I apply to determine its value? A sample claim of value would be: “Most people find meaning in what they do for a living; at the advent of Artificial Intelligence, humankind might find itself facing an existential crisis because A.I. will make most jobs unnecessary.” 
     
  • Claims of Policy consider what course of action should be taken to address an issue. This claim asks and answers: What should we do to solve a problem? What actions should we take? A sample claim of policy would be: “Some people think that their jobs will be preserved even after Artificial Intelligence becomes more of a presence in daily life. However, a turn toward self-expression is necessary to ensure human employment.” 

  • Claims of Fact are used to determine our understanding of an issue. This claim asks and answers: Did it happen? Is it true? How do we know? How do people think about this topic? A sample claim of fact would be: “Some people think that intelligence or consciousness cannot be replicated by a machine, but Alan Turing developed a test that could determine whether a machine could fool a human into thinking it was an intelligent being.” 

By spending time to develop a strong thesis, you are also forming the foundation for a strong essay. Since this is an important step in the writing process, feel free to visit the Writing Center in person or online for additional feedback and guidance. To find out how, see the Scheduling a Live Session handout by visiting the RVC Writing Center Resource Library at: https://www.rockvalleycollege.edu/StudentServices/Tutoring/WritingCenter.cfm 

Download the Thesis Statements Handout here!