Dissertation Boot Camp

Before going to boot camp in January 2020, I struggled to believe that I could ever finish my dissertation. Spending three days in a supportive environment surrounded by other people with the same struggles helped me gain the confidence I needed to push through to the end.

– Jen, Urban Education (PhD 2020)

The 2021-2022 Dissertation Boot Camps are currently in the planning phase. Check back this fall for dates. Boot Camp will be virtual again, and free of charge, so as Nancy Sinatra once said, “Boots, start walking!”

Boot Camp is held on Microsoft Teams for three days of supported writing, tutoring, guidance on writing process, and camaraderie. You’ll find your rhythm writing alongside a community of peers. In past years, Boot Camp participants have produced the equivalent of two full dissertations in just three days.

We also heard your feedback about wanting a Boot Camp that’s better suited to working virtually from home. We’ll be changing our breaks, programming, and schedule to make it more comfortable and more productive for everyone. And we know working from home comes with interruptions, but we ask participants to try to commit to three full days of writing as much as possible.

“I had been feeling really stuck with my work, and this event loosened my thoughts up a bit and allowed me to make more critical connections to the literature. I lessened the amount of unnecessary self-editing and just wrote.

Who is Boot Camp for?

Boot Camp is limited to doctoral dissertators and students in the terminal MFA programs.
PhD students must:

  • Be in good academic standing.
  • Have achieved Dissertator status.
  • Have passed the proposal stage and be in the write-up phase.

What should I expect at Boot Camp?

  1. Three days of writing, eight hours each, spent focused on your dissertation
  2. A structured day with periods of quiet writing and regular breaks
  3. Introduction to goal setting and effective writing strategies
  4. Guidance on writing process from faculty experts
  5. Optional breaktime exercise activities to stay fresh
  6. Writing tutors available on-line every afternoon through UWM’s Writing Center
  7. A community of fellow dissertators at UWM

The real conversations about writing, barriers, and tangible suggestions to be a better writer are incredibly valuable.

What do I need for Boot Camp?

  1. A comfortable private space where you can write for long periods and join discussions with other participants.
  2. Your own computer for writing.
  3. Internet access.
  4. Microsoft Teams installed on your computer. Teams can be installed on the computer you use for writing or on a second machine (such as an iPad or cell phone) that you use alongside it.
  5. A speaker and microphone on the device running Teams.
  6. An optional webcam if you want to be able to share video during our discussions.
  7. A firm resolution not to check email, texts, social networks, or the internet during writing periods!


The cost for participation is free! All UWM Dissertators are invited to apply. Eligible participants will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Boot Camp will be limited to a maximum of 50 participants.

To participate, you must commit to attending all three days. If you know you have a substantial conflict during the June 8-10 Boot Camp hours, check with us about whether our ReBoots might be better for you. Of course, we understand that working virtually from home involves all sorts of interruptions and occasional distractions, but we ask all participants to plan to work as much as possible all three days.

Writing with a group was very helpful to me. So often, I lose motivation and focus when I am on my own, but being surrounded by dozens of other graduate students for three days in a row was great.


We are happy to provide more information and discuss the program with you. Please reach out by email to our professional development intern, Cary Suneja (casuneja@uwm.edu).