Dissertation Camp

Spring 2020 Note: Because of COVID-19, we aren't offering a standard Dissertation Camp this year. However, we are offering a summer writing program that will provide many of the same benefits, but will run from May 8 to August 7 instead of for just a week. Hopefully, we will be able to resume our usual programming soon, but in the meantime, please consider joining us for the summer writing program.


Dissertation Camp is a project of the Writing Center and the Office of the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research at the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. The Writing Center began this initiative in 2011.

We provide the support. We provide the time and space. We provide lunch. You provide the writing.

Graduate students with approved proposals are eligible to apply for Dissertation Boot Camp.

We offer week-long Dissertation Camps three times a year (typically in April/May and August). We offer a one-day Dissertation Workshop once in Fall Term and again in Spring Term. The events are announced by email from the graduate secretaries of relevant departments or schools.

For alumni of these events, we offer monthly writing days.

Dissertation Camp will

  • provide a week of intensive writing designed especially for doctoral students in the process of writing their dissertations
  • provide an opportunity to get advice from and interact with experienced writing consultants
  • describe and provide practice in strategies that facilitate drafting and completing a large document
  • assist with developing and enacting a sound, productive writing schedule
  • be a support group for PhD candidates from a variety of disciplines

Dissertation Camp will not

  • provide proofreading or focus on sentence-level editing or other matters related to standard written English
  • extensively cover discipline-specific matters of formatting or presentation
  • serve as a replacement for ongoing communication with your dissertation director and committee

A day at Dissertation Camp

  • will include morning coffee/tea and lunch at no charge
  • will be led by an English Department faculty member experienced in working with dissertation writers
  • will have discussion and handouts on resources and best practices
  • will involve uninterrupted “hands-on” writing time (facilitating a “feel for” what a productive writing schedule is and can accomplish)
  • will review the day’s points and practices

Dissertation Camp requires

  • that you are a registered doctoral student in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, Information Sciences, Law, Public and International Affairs, or Social Work.
  • that your dissertation proposal has been accepted by your committee (i.e., you have passed the overview defense)
  • a refundable $50.00 registration fee paid by personal check to the University of Pittsburgh; this fee is refunded at the end of Boot Camp if you attend all day for all 5 days. If you register but do not attend, or do not attend all 5 days, the $50.00 fee is not refunded.

Do not delay when an event is announced; Dissertation Camp is limited to 18 participants: “first-come, first-served!”

For further information contact: Ellen Smith, Coordinator for Dissertation Boot Camp.