Controversial Essay Topics

Controversial Essay Topics
Controversial essay topics are too good to be true - there is a wealth of recent research available, and each topic is interesting enough to engage nearly any reader. They seem like ideal research topics for academic essays.
However, controversial essays are also difficult to write well. Writers may become emotionally involved in their topic, which can lead to structural issues. In addition, sources must be chosen carefully, to avoid biases or agendas.

That doesn't mean that controversial essay topics don't have their place in scholastic writing; in fact, they present a unique challenge. But student writers beware: These topics will get people talking!


Any topic that relates to religion is immediately controversial, particularly in a secular school setting. Abortion essays are no exception.

If you chose to write an essay about abortion, choose an approach that has a significant body of research to support your stance. For example, it is much less incendiary to argue for (or against) the medical merits of abortion, compared to the ethics or morality of the procedure.

Gay Rights

One of the 21st century's hottest topics is gay rights. As with abortion, there is an inherent religious viewpoint on LGBT rights; however, you may have more success writing an essay from a more atypical perspective, such as the economics of gay marriage, or an historical comparison of civil rights for different minority groups.


Immigration is a controversial topic, particularly in parts of the Southwestern United States. Rather than arguing for or against immigration as a concept, choose a smaller issue. For example, you could write about the effect of seasonal workers on your local economy, or the psychological effects of immigrant children who are part of a diaspora.

Gun Control

Fewer issues get people fired up than Constitutional issues like gun control, which also has one of the largest lobbying bodies in the United States. Yet, very few viewpoints are strictly for or against all forms of armed citizenry.

A popular way to approach the gun control issue is to compare the United States with other countries. Use government statistics and research to prove your position on gun control, with supporting data from other countries. Current events, like handgun bans in certain U.S. cities, can also provide valuable statistics for a gun control essay.


The legalization of drugs is a multifarious issue, spanning continents, socio-economic groups and legal opinions.

There is a large body of recent research both for and against the legalization of any number of drugs. Essays on medical marijuana are most popular, as well as those that call for fewer penalties for "personal use" drugs. If you choose one of these topics, take care to provide scholarly research in support of your opinion. Also, examine the effect of a given change on one aspect of society, such as the criminal justice system, poverty or welfare.

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