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125 Challenging Debate Topics for College Students

If you’re a teacher’s assistant or a professor looking for good debate topics for your students, you have come to the right place. Or, if you’re a typical college student who is looking for the best way to stir up some intellectual conversations for a Friday evening, look no further.

There are plenty of topics which you can debate about amongst your friends and classmates.

Debating is a great way you can learn more about different perspectives, new situations, and engage in a thoughtful conversation. 

What if you want to add a little humor to the discussion?

Well, fear not – GenTwenty has gotten you covered with many interesting debate topics including a funny debate topic or two. We have split them up into sections just in case you’re more passionate about certain subject matters. 

The best debate topics leave room for two-or-more sides, deeper conversation, and perhaps even a shift in point of view. A good topic is one people can relate to and learn from.

If the debate topic is a controversial issue, such as abortion or the death penalty, make sure you are suitably equipped to talk about it in a thoughtful, respectful way.

Moreover, you should also do your own research before crafting your own opinion. As a result, you can analyze both sides of the issue before picking your own side. 

We’ve focused more on fun debate topics and easy debate topics to get you started rather than controversial topics, but that isn’t to say you shouldn’t explore deeper issues!

99 Debate Topics for College Students

If you’re looking to get started, here are plenty of debate topics for your argumentative session:

High school

These debate topics for college students will be fresh in the mind if they have just graduated from high school.

1. Why Prom should be open to all high school students

2. Why we should care less about our high school selves

3. Why the boyfriend in high school shouldn’t be our boyfriend in college

4. Why every high school should have a restaurant instead of a cafeteria

5. Why we should select our own courses in high school

6. Why we should skip school on our birthdays

7. Why homework should be banned from schools

8. How can standardized testing be replaced

9. Why extracurriculars are way too hyped and overrated

10. Should public schools have sex education class as a requirement to graduate

11. Is it a good idea to let students keep their mobile phones on all day

12. Should the voting age be lowered to 16


These are particularly interesting for younger college students.

1. Why College is the “new high school” 

2. Why college students are the absolute worst to have on a morning bus

3. Why our 8:00 am classes should be online instead

4. Why every college should be near a park

5. Why every college should have a coffee shop on every corner of the campus

6. Why should every student live on-campus

7. Why should every student go to sleep before 12:00 am

8. Why we shouldn’t enter college until we are 22

9. What should minimum wage be

10. Should a college education be a job requirement

11. Should college in the United States be free or lower cost?

12. Is higher education overvalued in the job industry?


These range from silly to serious.

1. Are cereals soup

2. Why Oreos are the best cookies ever

3. Why we should put pineapple on our pizza

4. Why Starbucks is better than any other fancy coffee shop

5. Why the ice cream truck is still the best

6. Why tea is better than coffee

7. Why chips are better than cookies

9. Why fast food restaurants are always better than fine dine restaurants

10. Why there needs to be more dessert-based restaurants 

11. Why bento boxes are better than charcuterie boards

12. Why bubble tea is a smoothie

13. Why we should classify bubble tea as a dessert instead.

14. Why we should classify ice cream as a frozen yogurt

15. What really qualifies as junk food


Another topical idea with silly ideas (like number 1) and deeper topics (like number 9).

1. Why short coats are better than long coats 

2. Why Crocs are better than flip flops

3. Should we wear snowpants in a blizzard

4. Should there be a maximum number of tattoos

5. Should we ban school uniforms

6. Why we should wear chunky shoes

7. Why it’s good to dress in one-color outfits

8. Why laundry prices are too expensive

9. Why people under the age of 18 shouldn’t be allowed to model for runways 

10. Should animal testing be banned in the makeup industry


Film is always a popular debate topic for college students as it is generally very relevant.

1. Why Disney isn’t only for children. 

2. Why Anna is better than Elsa for Frozen 

3. Why Hans is like almost every guy you meet in college 

4. Why Marvel is better than DC Comics 

5. Why animated films are always better than movies with actors and props

6. Why cartoons are always better than real-life action movies 

7. Why Monster’s University does not accurately represent college life 

8. Why Friends is better than How I Met Your Mother 

9. Why Vampire Diaries is Better than Twilight 

10. Would you rather be a Disney princess or a Marvel superhero


One of our personal favorite topics, these ideas cover goals and personality traits.

1. Why you shouldn’t pick a major based on your career

2. Why hard work always defines success 

3. Why luck always defines success

4. Why being an introvert is better than being an extrovert

5. Why we need to plan more according to the flow of things 

6. Who would you rather be: A CEO of a company or a founder of a non-profit organization 

7. Why you should never date your boss 

8. Why there should be no hierarchy at work 

9. Why we should use our phones at work 

10. Why companies should offer to help us pay back our student loans 

11. Why companies should offer cell phones to their employees


These could get heated.

1. Why you shouldn’t kiss on your first date 

2. Why you should leave a guy as soon as he calls a girl “hot” in front of you 

3 Why you should kiss with your eyes wide open 

4. Why should you find a different way of confessing your interest to another person other than saying “I like you”

5. Why every couple needs at least 3 matching outfits 

6. Why love isn’t the most important aspect in every relationship 

8. Why you shouldn’t marry your high school sweetheart 

9. Why you shouldn’t blast your relationship on social media 

10. Why you should date someone intelligent

11. Why you should date someone younger than you 

12. Should same-sex marriage be legal or illegal

Social Media 

Introduce a debate on everyone’s favorite topic: social media.

1. Why you shouldn’t be an influencer 

2. Does social media affect our communication skills in a negative or a positive manner

3. Why it is better to become Instagram famous than being TikTok famous

4. Why we need to bring back Facebook 

5. Why we need to bring back Myspace 

6. Why every college needs their own social media site 

7. Why violent video games should / should not be more regulated

8. Should middle school aged children be allowed to have social media profiles


Science topics are particularly interesting in the age of global warming.

1. Which planet would you want to visit and why

2. What should the “Milky Way Galaxy” also be called 

3. Should we rename ‘Earth’? Why or Why Not 

4. Should Newton’s three laws be renamed

5. Would you rather develop or program a robot that can counsel a friend or take care of your pet 

6. Is there a difference between climate change and global warming

7. Should human cloning be more researched

8. Can fossil fuels be completely replaced with green energy?

9. Can artificial intelligence software replace workers?

Controversial Debate Topics For College Students

Controversial debate topics can spark lively discussions and engage college students in critical thinking. Keep in mind that the nature of controversy means that opinions on these topics may vary widely.

  1. Legalization of Recreational Drugs:
    • Should recreational drugs, such as marijuana, be legalized?
  2. Gun Control:
    • What level of gun control is appropriate, and how can it balance public safety and individual rights?
  3. Assisted Suicide:
    • Should assisted suicide be legally and ethically permissible?
  4. Capital Punishment:
    • Is the death penalty an acceptable form of punishment?
  5. Climate Change Policies:
    • What policies should be implemented to address climate change, and how should they be enforced?
  6. Universal Basic Income:
    • Should governments provide a universal basic income to all citizens?
  7. Affirmative Action:
    • Is affirmative action an effective way to address historical inequalities, or does it lead to reverse discrimination?
  8. Censorship in the Arts:
    • To what extent should art and media be censored for content that may be considered offensive or controversial?
  9. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs):
    • Are GMOs a solution to global food shortages, or do they pose significant risks to health and the environment?
  10. Euthanasia:
    • Should euthanasia be allowed for individuals suffering from terminal illnesses who request it?
  11. Privacy vs. National Security:
    • How should the balance between individual privacy and national security be maintained?
  12. Animal Testing:
    • Is animal testing for scientific and medical research ethical?
  13. School Vouchers:
    • Should parents be given vouchers to use public funds for private or charter schools?
  14. Social Media and Free Speech:
    • How should social media platforms address issues of free speech and content moderation?
  15. Immigration Policies:
    • What should be the criteria for immigration, and how should countries handle undocumented immigrants?
  16. Surveillance State:
    • To what extent should governments engage in surveillance for the sake of national security?
  17. Minimum Wage:
    • Should the minimum wage be increased, and what impact might it have on businesses and employment?
  18. Reparations for Historical Injustices:
    • Should governments provide reparations for historical injustices, such as slavery?
  19. School Prayer:
    • Should prayer be allowed in public schools, and if so, in what form?
  20. Polygamy:
    • Should consensual polygamous relationships be legally recognized?
  21. Right to Die:
    • Should individuals have the right to choose when and how they die?
  22. LGBTQ+ Rights:
    • What legal protections should be in place to ensure LGBTQ+ rights?
  23. Surrogacy and Commercialization of Reproduction:
    • Is commercial surrogacy ethical, and how should it be regulated?
  24. Internet Neutrality:
    • Should internet service providers be allowed to prioritize certain content over others?
  25. Vaccination Mandates:
    • Should vaccinations be mandatory, and how should exemptions be handled?
  26. Artificial Intelligence and Job Displacement:
    • How should society address the potential job displacement caused by artificial intelligence and automation?

Why Debating Is an Important Skill to Learn in College

Debate is an invaluable skill to cultivate during the college years, providing students with a multifaceted toolkit that extends far beyond the realms of rhetoric and persuasion. As a structured and organized form of argumentation, debate hones critical thinking abilities, sharpens communication skills, and fosters a deep understanding of complex issues. The significance of learning this skill in college is underscored by its transformative impact on academic, professional, and personal spheres.

One paramount aspect of debate lies in its ability to nurture critical thinking skills. Engaging in debates necessitates a thorough examination of diverse perspectives, rigorous analysis of evidence, and the formulation of well-reasoned arguments. This intellectual exercise compels students to question assumptions, evaluate information critically, and synthesize complex ideas. Such cognitive agility is not only crucial in academic pursuits but also lays the groundwork for informed decision-making and problem-solving in real-world scenarios.

Furthermore, debate serves as a crucible for effective communication. In the dynamic interplay of ideas, participants must articulate their thoughts with clarity, coherence, and persuasiveness. The ability to express oneself eloquently is an asset in various professional domains, from business negotiations to public speaking engagements. Debaters learn to communicate complex concepts in a compelling manner, enhancing their capacity to engage and influence diverse audiences.

Debate in college also cultivates the art of active listening. Participants must attentively absorb and comprehend the arguments put forth by their peers, fostering a culture of intellectual exchange. This skill transcends the boundaries of academia, proving invaluable in collaborative endeavors, team projects, and interpersonal relationships. The capacity to listen actively and empathize with diverse viewpoints is a cornerstone of effective leadership and teamwork.

Moreover, debate equips individuals with resilience and adaptability. The competitive nature of debate demands quick thinking and adaptability to counterarguments. This ability to think on one’s feet is a valuable asset in the unpredictable terrain of professional and personal challenges. Debaters develop a resilience to stress, an openness to constructive criticism, and a willingness to refine their positions based on new information—a triad of attributes essential for success in an ever-evolving world.

In the realm of civic engagement, debate serves as a catalyst for informed citizenship. Debaters emerge with a heightened awareness of societal issues, a profound understanding of the nuances surrounding them, and the ability to engage in constructive dialogues. This fosters a generation of individuals who are not just spectators but active contributors to the democratic process, capable of articulating and defending their perspectives.

In conclusion, the acquisition of debate skills in college is a transformative journey that extends beyond the classroom. It forges critical thinkers, adept communicators, and resilient individuals, ready to navigate the challenges of an intricate world. As a cornerstone of intellectual and personal growth, debate stands as a beacon, illuminating the path toward a future marked by proficiency, empathy, and civic responsibility.

In Summary: Debate Topics For College Students

And there you have it! Feel free to use any of these interesting topics for a debate assignment as long as you consult with your professor about the criteria for the classroom debate.

Also, feel free to deepen your current understanding on some of these issues – you never know what you’ll learn after a good debate session.

Learning more about current debate topics can be a great way to practice public speaking or develop more critical thinking skills. But at the end, remember to have fun and enjoy the process. 

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About the Author


Candice is currently attending school for social service work. One of her passions is helping others through my writing. In her downtime, you'll find her listening to music, watching random YouTube videos, and writing about career goals and resumes. She hopes to start freelancing for writing and obtain a leadership position in a public services sector.