UMass Boston

Writing Thesis Statements

Thesis statements are central arguments in essays, and are usually written as one or two sentences (but can be longer depending on the context and discipline). A thesis focuses on the interpretation of facts to create an argument. A thesis is not a statement of fact, but a clear and convincing argument that takes a stand in a range of possible positions.  

Successful thesis statements usually:

  • State an opinion/position, which will be proved by evidence in the body of the essay, usually through the use of sources.

  • Are specific about the writer’s position, using details and specific terms.

  • Produce several responses, for example, agreement, neutrality, and disagreement. 

The WHAT/HOW/SO WHAT Strategy 

This strategy can help develop stronger thesis statements:

  • The WHAT: the topic you’re writing about . Can also reference larger academic conversations/make connections to the larger context you’re writing in.

  • The HOW: The methods and means by which you will be analyzing and discussing your topic. Or a general overview of how you will be guiding the reader through your text. 

  • The SO WHAT: Your analysis or interpretation of the topic. Why is this topic significant? What does your thesis statement mean in the surrounding academic conversation/the larger context you’re writing in? 

Sample thesis: 

In his 2018 poetry collection Elegía/Elegy, [What] Raquel Salas Rivera uses self translation and literary devices to create and break dichotomies within language and freedom  [how]. Breaking these dichotomies causes the reader to question how they have internalized colonial understandings of language purism [so what].  


This content was adapted by Marissa Burke from the Queen’s University online guide and tutorial for thesis statements, as well as the Carroll College Writing Center online resources for Writing a Good Thesis Statement

Writing Center

Main location: Campus Center, First Floor, Room 1300
Boston, MA 02125 USA