Dissertation Writing Camp

Mellon-Wisconsin Dissertation Writing Camp

Summer 2018 Writing Camps


     Camp 1: May 14-18, 2018

     Camp 2: May 21-25, 2018

Time: 9:00am–3:30pm (Monday-Thursday), 9:00am–1:00pm (Friday)


     Camp 1: Helen C. White Hall

     Camp 2: Location TBA

The UW–Madison Writing Center and the UW–Madison Graduate School are pleased to sponsor two Mellon-Wisconsin Dissertation Writing Camps during May 2018. Acceptance in the program is competitive, and participation is limited to twenty (20) dissertators per camp.

The Mellon-Wisconsin Dissertation Writing Camps are made possible through the generous funding and support of the Mellon Foundation, the State of Wisconsin, the UW–Madison Graduate School, and the UW–Madison Writing Center.

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.
"Previous camp participants from across the disciplines — humanities, social sciences, biological sciences, and physical sciences — and participants in similar programs at other universities report that the writing camp experience helped them accomplish their writing goals, accelerated their degree completion, and enabled them to learn strategies that would help them in future writing projects. “In academia there is a lot of expectation that you will work independently and be responsible for your own cheerleading and positive encouragement; it was so refreshing and helpful to have an extra dose of that kind of encouragement from [the Dissertation Writing Camp instructors]. I think that will stick me for a long time.”

-Dissertator from the Humanities

 “It’s easy in graduate school to feel as though you are the only one struggling, as though everyone else is so much smarter and more productive. Writing Camp showed me that I’m not alone, that there are plenty of bright, passionate students who find the dissertation process challenging and sometimes even overwhelming. Really seeing this has helped me not be so down on myself.”

-Dissertator from the Social Sciences

 “It’s very comforting knowing there is this group of amazingly helpful and highly qualified individuals with time and desire to help me with exactly what I’m struggling with. The Writing Center is really a great resource for dissertators that should be more recognized for their efforts.”

-Dissertator from the Biological Sciences

“I had no problem writing papers for classes, but once classes ended I stopped writing because nobody was firmly telling me to write, or helping me write. I have learned how to make myself accountable for writing. I also have learned that writing is part of my scientific process. I always knew that I liked writing because it made me realize new possibilities for experiments and make connections others haven’t already made, but I didn’t realize that this could make my own experiments better.”

-Dissertator from the Biological Sciences

“Dissertation Camp exceeded my expectations. I was on a short timeline to finish my dissertation writing and because of the time set aside for writing during the boot camp, I was able to finish on time.”

-Dissertator from Engineering

Participation in UW-Madison’s dissertation writing camps is limited to UW-Madison dissertators. 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 have achieved dissertator status
  2. Your dissertation proposal has been approved
  3. You have a vision for your overall project as well as for specific chapters
  4. You have completed the research or data collection that is needed to underpin the writing you will do in camp
  5. You have drafted at least one chapter of your dissertation
  6. 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.

The Mellon-Wisconsin 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, Scholarships@UW.  To apply, visit scholarships.wisc.edu and then click on the "Visit My Scholarships" button on the left-hand side 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. The application will become available on February 19, 2018. All parts of the application (including the advisor endorsement form) must be submitted by the deadline of March 9, 2018 at 12 pm (noon) in order for your application to be considered by the review committee.


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.

Limited funds are available for students in the Arts and Humanities who would be unable to attend camp without financial support. These funds would be used to either cover transportation from beyond Madison or for childcare to support attendance. Participants will be reimbursed after submitting documentation upon completion of camp. If you need funds in order to attend camp, please describe the need situation. 

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 Scholarships@UW 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 Mellon-Wisconsin Dissertation Writing Camp, please contact gspd@grad.wisc.edu.

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