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A compare and contrast essay is a common form of academic writing that students need to master as they progress with their education. Basically, a crucial stage in writing a compare and contrast essay is the creation of a specific topic. In turn, this manual begins with a detailed definition of a compare and contrast essay and highlights its various types. Then, the guide discusses the process of constructing a topic of a compare and contrast essay and proposes a template that students may use. Moreover, the manual presents examples of compare and contrast essay topics and showcases the impact of a student’s discipline on the content of papers for each theme.

General Guidelines on Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for High School, College, and University Students

Compare and contrast essay topics

1. Definition of a Compare and Contrast Essay

A compare and contrast essay is a form of academic writing that requires authors to identify subtle differences and similarities between two things, individuals, ideas, or animals. Basically, this essay tasks students to distinguish a variety of bases for a compare and contrast method, which they use to recognize important points that form body paragraphs. In this case, compare and contrast essay topics plays an essential role in the development of a student’s critical thinking skills at different levels of education because the creation of papers is possible if they can successfully analyze specific themes or subjects. Therefore, these types of essays are valuable in all disciplines because they enable learners and scholars to discern some similarities and differences of arguments, which allows them to find new ways to combine or modify ideas to generate new dimensions that advance an academic discourse.

2. Types of a Compare and Contrast Essay

Based on the purpose of writing, there are three main types of compare and contrast essays: essays that prove a point, essays that demonstrate superiority, and essays that illustrate change. In this case, students can write a compare and contrast essay that proves a point to convince the audience that their position on a controversial issue or theme is correct or acceptable. Also, compare and contrast essay topics that aim to show superiority issues with a direct answer to the question, “Which one is better?” In turn, essays that illustrate change focus on showing the audience a clear “before and after” picture, which highlights some form of progress or deterioration.

Constructing a Topic for Compare and Contrast Essay: Step by Step Guide

1. Description

The process of constructing a compare and contrast essay topic is systematic. For example, authors begin by recognizing the area of interest, which instructors mention explicitly or infer to in essay instructions. Then, students conduct some research to isolate two arguments, things, or famous individuals that exist within the area of interest. Based on objects or arguments, writers conduct exploratory research to ascertain that they are comparable within the constraints of ideological constructs of a discipline. Finally, scholars identify specific themes for comparing or contrasting that they will feature in their essays and develop topics that make a clear suggestion of the content of papers.

2. Sample Template for Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

Step 1:

  • Identify the area of interest.


The name of the theory or concept within a discipline.

Step 2:

  • Select two arguments, things, or individuals.


Select two arguments, things, or individuals.

Step 3:

  • Evaluate the extent of their comparability.


Investigate whether lines of thought meet minimum requirements for comparison within one’s discipline.

Step 4:

Select useful bases for comparing or contrasting.


List bases for comparing or contrasting lines of thoughts (prioritize differences or similarities that are not obvious).

Step 5:

Formulate a title that captures selected bases.


Create a title that provides readers with an accurate picture of the content of an essay.

3. Adjustments in Topics to Achieve Specific Purposes

Students may modify topics of a compare and contrast essay through the inclusion of keywords that narrow the scope of a paper. For example, if students are comparing and contrasting education funding policies in the 21st century, they may introduce certain words to focus this theme on a unique form of synthesis. In this case, the working topic is “Failing Education Reform.” Moreover, authors may modify such a topic to “Failing Education Reform: The Dilemma of State Funding.” In the second topic, writers identify the nature of the synthesis that they will achieve by using the compare and contrast essay form.

Examples of Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

1. Compare and Contrast Themes That Prove a Point

A. Essay Prompts on Benefits of Industrialization

History. The student may highlight the state of trade in the 20th century as compared to the 21st century.

Language and literature. Compare and contrast manual and automated printing.

Law. Comparison of labor laws between the third and the fourth industrial revolution to illustrate some improvement.

Sociology. A sociology student can compare and contrast the structure of the family before and after industrialization began to influence migration patterns.

Engineering and technology. Establish the improved performance-pollution ratio in trains by comparing and contrasting particular models.

Medicine and health. A comparison of the quality standards of pharmaceutical products before and after mass production.

Business. Contrast and compare the trading volumes and cost per unit of a particular good that has undergone a significant advancement in its production.

Social work. Health benefit packages for workers in the manufacturing sector between the second and fourth industrial revolution.

Psychology. Mental health benefits of working conditions by comparing working conditions in two phases of the industrial revolution.

B. Compare and Contrast Sample Essay Topics on Individualism: A Fading Strategy

Arts. The shift from individual-based to group-based plots for movies from different periods.

Language and literature. A comparison between a selection of texts from the romantic period and the contemporary period.

Law. The author utilizes a comparison between the nature of supreme cases, which gained popularity during specific periods.

Sociology. The preference for keeping families together at the expense of pursuing individual opportunities.

Engineering and technology. The student compares the trends in individual inventions and group innovations in distinct periods.

Medicine and health. Identify modifications in the approach to care for the old through a comparison of home-based care before the world war and group home care after the world war.

Business. A comparison between the nature of company relationships in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Social work. Community and group campaigns have diluted the focus on individual problems.

Psychology. The student compares and contrasts the transition from patient-centered to family-centered therapy sessions.

C. Examples of Compare and Contrast Ideas on The Meaning of Love in Contemporary Society

Arts. Compare the illustration of love in classical and modern plays.

History. Establish the disparity in the underlying motivation for political strategies during and after the world war.

Language and literature. The student compares and contrasts the presentation of the theme of love in 18th and 20th-century poetry.

Law. Evaluating the nature of marriage dissolution proceedings before and after the introduction of prenuptial agreements.

Sociology. Students identify the differences and similarities in family-based violence in families with no drug use and families with at least one drug user.

Engineering and technology. Compare the differences and similarities in the dating experience of online hook-ups and face-to-face introductions.

Business. Identify the differences and similarities between office romance policy in start-ups and multinational companies.

Social work. The student compares the use of legal solutions as compared to affection as a strategy of consoling abuse victims.

Psychology. Compare the nature of non-familial relationships among teens before and after the explosion of social media platforms.

2. Compare and Contrast Essay Topics That Demonstrate Superiority

A. Samples of Essay Theme on Modern Medicine: A Better Tomorrow

Arts. Compare and contrast the representation of doctors in classical plays and contemporary plays.

History. The author identifies the differences and similarities in the extent of social and economic impacts of a pandemic in the 18th century and 21st century.

Language and literature. Establish the disparity in the meaning of medical terms in translations as opposed to the consistency of

Law. Define the differences and similarities in health acts passed by congress before and after 2000.

Sociology. The belief in traditional medicine as opposed to modern medication in contemporary society.

Engineering and technology. The student compares the quality of palliative care before the introduction of electronic health records and after.

Medicine and health. The author compares the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy before the formation of the Food and Drug Administration and the rise in positive outcomes after its establishment.

Social work. The student contrasts the management of domestic abuse cases in the 19th and 21st centuries.

Psychology. Comparison of brain research before and after the development of non-invasive imaging techniques.

B. Compare and Contrast Ides on A Diminished “Work From the Office” Mentality Among Millennials.

Arts. The student recognizes the disparities and similarities in the dressing of business owners in old and contemporary films.

History. A comparison of the distribution of manufacturing and office jobs between the third and fourth industrial revolution.

Sociology. Indicate the fluctuations in the willingness of the people to relocate for work in the 1940s and 1990s.

Engineering and technology. Discuss the differences and similarities in the extent of technological integration into business models in the late 20th and 21st centuries.

Medicine and health. Contrast and compare the quality of health between people that work from home and individuals that go to the office.

Technology. Compare and contrast a modern sense of a workplace with how people work 50 years ago.

Business. The author compares the office floor size and office space rental costs between two tech companies that conducted operations in different phases of the industrial revolution.

Social work. Identifying the differences and similarities in the experiences of clients that receive social services over digital platforms as opposed to face-to-face encounters

Psychology. A comparison of mental health among persons working from the office and people working from home.

C. Compare and Contrast Prompts on Hybrid Classes and Learning

Arts. Student experiences in purely classroom programs in comparison to the experience of students in programs with both online and classroom learning features.

History. Acceptance or resistance to online learning as compared to classroom learning in the early 21st century.

Language and literature. The comparison of professors’ opinions concerning the ease of teaching classical literature in class or online.

Law. The efficacy of mock-trials in the classroom over video-based mock-trials on learners’ understanding of courtroom proceedings.

Sociology. The student contrasts learning experiences for mothers on hybrid programs and online programs.

Engineering and technology. The comprehension of concepts with laboratory practical as compared to purely theoretical presentations.

Medicine and health. The association between depression and the isolative learning environments in comparison to the conventional school environment.

Business. Preference for hybrid classes over purely online classes in the pursuit of postgraduate degrees.

Social work. The management of mental health in remote students where direct observation of students is not possible.

3. Compare and Contrast Essay Topics That Illustrate Change

A. Theme Sample on The Rise of a New Era in Neighborhood Policing

Arts. Depiction of police during the segregation era as compared to the desegregation period.

History. Comparison of policing techniques before and after the Rodney King riots.

Language and literature. The nature of slang that police use in black literature as compared to white literature in the early 1900s.

Law. Jim Crow laws versus the Separate Car Act

Sociology. Variations in recidivism in community policed neighborhoods as opposed to the use of profiling policing strategy.

Engineering and technology. Body camera footage closes gaps established by reliance on police testimony.

Medicine and health. Abuse of prescription drugs in the 21st century.

Business. Installation of surveillance systems in business and the effect on case closure rates.

Psychology. The influence of research-based policing policies on community satisfaction.

B. Essay Ideas on A Craving for Cleaner Power

Arts. Capturing the concept of sustainability in films.

History. Advantages and disadvantages of overreliance on crude oil.

Language and literature. The growing popularity of the theme of renewable energy in literature.

Law. Amendments to energy policy.

Engineering and technology. Energy yield to pollution ratio among fossil fuels.

Medicine and health. Seriousness surrounding the implementation of power conservation policies in the 1900s as compared to the 21st century.

Business. The burden of corporate social responsibility and the emissions from production at various stages of industrialization.

Social work. Rise in environmental conservation campaigns in social work projects.

Psychology. Progress in nurturing energy conservation behaviors across generations.

C. Compare and Contrast Essay Topics on Entertainment in the 21st Century

Arts. Dressing and perceptions of nudity in plays.

History. A comparison of film quality in the 1930s and 1980s.

Language and literature. Rise in the use of vulgar language in satirical movies.

Law. The increasing complexity of copyright law for films in the 21st century as opposed to the 20th century.

Sociology. Deviation from the representation of nuclear families to single-parent families as a norm in contemporary films.

Medicine and health. A contrast of the level of detail in medical films in the 1980s versus the 21st century.

Business. Legitimization of escort services in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Social work. The rising popularity of the use of films as an educational tool.

Psychology. Availability of pornographic material and the development of adverse sexual urges in teenagers.

Final Provisions

  • Students should do adequate research to ensure that arguments, things, or individuals are comparable to a large extent.
  • Authors may modify proposed topics by using a development template to meet academic standards of comparability of their discipline.
  • Writers must use compare and contrast essay topics that reflect specific bases of comparison that they handle within their papers rather than a general idea of comparing and contrasting.