University of Wisconsin–Madison

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 2019 Writing Camps

Camp 1: Jan. 7-11, 2019
9am–3:30pm (Monday-Thursday), 9am–1pm (Friday)
Location: Helen C. White Hall

The application for the January 2019 camp opens Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. The application deadline is Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018.

Camp 2: May 2019 (Dates TBD)
9am–3:30pm (Monday-Thursday), 9am–1pm (Friday)
Location: TBD

The UW–Madison Writing Center and the UW–Madison Graduate School are pleased to sponsor two Dissertation Writing Camps in winter-spring 2019. Acceptance in the program is competitive, and participation is limited to 20 dissertators per camp.

  • 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.

  • Application Process

    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 advisor.

    The application process is managed entirely through an online system, available at the UW–Madison competitions website, the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub. To apply, visit and then click on the “Sign In” button on the top right of the page and log-in using NetID, if necessary. The online application system allows you to start your application and return to edit and update it any time before the deadline.


    Your name, campus ID, and contact information 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.

    Advisor Endorsement Form

    Once you have completed the application, click the Next button at the bottom right-hand corner of the page. Click the Add Recommendation button. You will be asked to provide the name and email of your recommender (your advisor). You may also include an optional note. Click the Save and Send Email button to request an endorsement. Your advisor will receive an e-mail that provides them a link to an online endorsement form. While the language of the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub requests a “recommendation,” please note that your advisor does not need to write, upload, or send a letter of recommendation. After you have requested an endorsement, it is important that you check the online system to see whether your advisor has completed the advisor endorsement form. Once you have completed your application, you can send additional reminders to your advisor at the Recommendations section of the application.

    Application Submission

    To submit the application, navigate to the Submit page by clicking Next on the Recommendation page or clicking the Submit tab. Verify that your contact information is correct and current. Answer the two remaining certification questions and then click Submit Application.

    Should you have any questions related to the Dissertation Writing Camp, please contact