Dissertation Help

You are in the homestretch! The final step to graduation is writing your dissertation – no small feat. In addition to the essential support and feedback that your faculty advisor, mentor, and committee members will provide, be sure to take full advantage of the following opportunities.

Dissertation Writing Camp

Winter-Spring 2024 Writing Camps

The UW–Madison Writing Center and the UW–Madison Graduate School sponsor two Dissertation Writing Camps in winter and spring. Acceptance in the program is competitive, and participation is limited to 20 dissertators per camp.

Facilitated by senior Writing Center staff, this week-long camp provides participants with intensive, focused time to write and revise their dissertation chapters in a supportive atmosphere alongside other writers. Those selected to participate have multiple opportunities to share writing goals, experiment with various writing strategies, and receive feedback on their work. ​

Camp 1: Jan. 8-12, 2024

Camp 2: May 20-24, 2024
Modality: In person at the Writing Center
Applications to the May 2024 Dissertation Writing Camp are open. To start your application, use the “Sign In” button at the top of the application page. The deadline to apply was Monday, April 1.

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Camp description

The dissertation writing camps focus on three core components:

  1. They provide participants with intensive, focused time to write in a supportive atmosphere amid other writers. Those selected to participate must attend the entire camp and should plan to write for at least five hours every day.
  2. Since research shows that successful research writers talk about their work and that talk is essential for effective writing, participants have multiple opportunities to discuss their work. Writing support is provided in the form of one-to-one conferences, in which participants can discuss any aspect of their dissertation writing process with Writing Center instructors. Participants may be expected to occasionally share their writing with other camp participants.
  3. Dissertation writing camps offer brief daily writing exercises and workshops on topics such as setting realistic goals, managing one’s time, organizing a major project, obtaining useful feedback, and staying motivated.

Value of Writing Camp

Writing a dissertation can feel like a mountain you have to climb to finish your PhD, and often, one that you’re climbing alone. But graduate students at UW–Madison can embrace that journey with a group of other dissertators at the Dissertation Writing Camp.

The dissertation writing camp, which takes place each year in January and May, provides students with dedicated time to write and discuss their work with peers, while also engaging in workshops about goal-setting, time management, and staying motivated.

“Being able to focus all my energy and time to writing and [being] in an environment where others were motivated to do the same made all the difference,” said dissertator Chelsea Blackburn Cohen, who participated in the writing camp in January 2018.

When she applied for the camp, Blackburn Cohen wasn’t close to being finished with data analysis for her thesis, which focuses on the forced displacement of academics worldwide due to the political or ideological nature of their intellectual work. Being accepted to the camp prompted her to prepare her data. During camp, she was able to write almost an entire analytical chapter.

In addition to providing extra motivation for many students, the camp serves as a support group. Fei Sun, a dissertator in the dairy science program, said being a dissertator can feel isolating if you’re the only one in your department. For Sun, being around other dissertators at the camp makes him feel like he’s not alone in his journey.

“I’m surrounded by 20 other people who have the same goal, and meanwhile we’re supported by the instructors if we have any questions,” he said.

Read more about the value of Dissertation Writing Camp >>

Eligibility requirements

Participation in UW–Madison’s dissertation writing camps is limited to UW–Madison dissertators who are pursuing a PhD degree. Acceptance in the program is competitive, and each camp is limited to a maximum of 20 participants. You are eligible to apply for dissertation camp if you meet all of the following criteria:

  1. You are pursuing a PhD degree
  2. You have achieved dissertator status
  3. Your dissertation proposal has been approved
  4. You have a vision for your overall project as well as for specific chapters
  5. You have completed the research or data collection that is needed to underpin the writing you will do in camp
  6. You have drafted at least one chapter of your dissertation
  7. You have your advisor’s approval (see below)

Applicants will be selected based on their anticipated time to degree completion, the importance of dissertation camp at this stage of their project, and to ensure broad disciplinary representation.

Space is limited, and selection preference will be given to those who have not participated in Dissertation Writing Camp in the past.

Application process

Application information

The Dissertation Writing Camp application has two components:

  • an online application form, submitted by the applicant;
  • an online advisor endorsement form, completed by the applicant’s faculty advisor.

The application process is managed entirely through an online system, Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WiSH). WiSH allows you to start your application and return to edit and update it any time before the deadline.

Your name, campus ID, contact information, and academic record will be pulled automatically into the application. Please make sure the information on file is up to date and accurate at the Student Center.

You will need to provide the following information to complete the application:

  1. your advisor’s first name, last name, and e-mail address;
  2. your anticipated graduation date;
  3. your dissertation title and a dissertation abstract (not to exceed 250 words);
  4. information on your dissertation progress and your specific writing goals for camp;
  5. indication of your motivations for attending camp and specific research/writing topics of interest to you.

Steps to apply

From the description page, click on the red Sign In button in the upper right corner and login with your NetID.

Complete the General Application (required), then click Finish and Submit. If you have used WiSH in the past, you will skip this step and go right into the Dissertation Writing Camp application.

If you are not automatically at the Dissertation Writing Camp application page at this point, click on Opportunities, select Ours, and search for Dissertation Writing Camp. Click the corresponding Apply button.

Complete the application and click Finish and Submit. You also have the option to save and return later.

Advisor endorsement

After you provide your advisor’s information and submit your application, WiSH will email your advisor and ask for a response to several questions about your readiness for Dissertation Writing Camp.

The email to your advisor will come from the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub and ask your advisor to serve as a reference for a “scholarship opportunity”. Your advisor will not see that this is related to the Dissertation Writing Camp until after they click on the link contained in the email. So, you may want to tell your advisor that you have applied for the writing camp and to watch for a generic email from WiSH.


Should you have any questions related to the Dissertation Writing Camp, please contact gspd@grad.wisc.edu.

Additional resources for attending Dissertation Writing Camp

Child Care

Students with children may be eligible for financial assistance through the Child Care Tuition Assistance Program (CCTAP), including during participation in a Dissertation Writing Camp. Applicants must have a confirmed space at an approved (licensed/accredited) child care provider in Wisconsin. For those looking for short-term coverage, the Office of Child Care and Family Resources sponsors a fund for reduced-rate, drop-in care called KidsKare. Little Chicks provides care in their non-traditional program on an hourly basis. This reduces the hourly rate from $14 per hour to either $5 per hour for faculty and staff or $0 per hour for any students currently receiving CCTAP.

Reduced and low-cost parking options

UW–Madison Transportation Services is offering reduced and low-cost parking this academic year. All UW–Madison graduate and professional students are eligible. Parking options include semester permits, annual permits, flex permits, afternoon permits, and night permits valid in different parking lots across campus. Product availability will vary and may be limited. Learn more and apply for reduced and low-cost parking options.