Dissertation Boot Camp


Dissertation Boot Camp was created in 2005 to help students progress through the difficult writing stages of the dissertation process. By offering an environment and support for intense, focused writing time, the Camp provides participants with the structure and motivation to overcome typical roadblocks in the dissertation process. 

    About Dissertation Boot Camp

    Dissertation boot camp is a two-week program designed to help advanced doctoral students meet goals and deadlines towards completing the dissertation.

    Frequency and Structure

    We typically hold two boot camps each year - one over winter break and another during the summer. Each Boot Camp runs for two weeks, from 9:00am to 1:00pm each weekday, with optional afternoon writing sessions until 5pm. 

    Each Boot Camp is limited to 20 participants and includes group meetings, individual writing consultations, and at least four hours of sustained writing each day. 

    Students must register in advance and attend all sessions. 


    Participation in Boot Camp $10, however, participants who do not comply with program rules or fail to complete Boot Camp will be charged a $50 fee to their Penn student account. 

    Who Can Participate? 

    Boot Camp is designed for students who have an approved dissertation proposal, have completed at least initial stages of their research, and who are actively working on drafts of a dissertation chapter or section. 

    Because Boot Camp is limited to 20 students, priority is given to students who have not participated in a boot camp before. If you have participated in a previous two-week Boot Camp, you can request to be placed on a wait list and will be able to register if seats are available one week before the camp begins.

    We encourage participants to form small self-motivated writing groups, participate in our other writing support programs, and meet with advisors at the Weingarten Learning Resource Center to sustain any momentum and writing habits they build during Boot Camp.

    How to Sign Up

    Tickets for Summer 2019 Boot Camp will go on sale on Monday, April 15th. Follow the steps below to register:

    1. Go to the Grad Center Events Page (gsc.upenn.edu/events) and register for Boot Camp.*

    2. After successfully registering participants will bring a copy of their registration confirmation (either electronic or printed) to the Grad Center. The cost of Boot Camp is $10 and may be paid by cash or check at the main desk in the Grad Center Common Room.

    3. After paying, participants will be contacted too collect some additional information, and will be expected to meet with their advisors to talk about their goals before the program begins.

    4. Finally, on June 3rd, arrive at the Grad Center and be ready to start writing by 9am! We'll be open at about 8:45am for participants and will have some light breakfast available.

    *There are only 20 spaces available, so if you are put on the wait list you'll need to show up the morning of the first day to see if there's space. Wait listed students will be contacted but there is nothing further they need to do.

    Requirements and Policies
    • Each day will include a 4-hour mandatory writing session from 9am to 1pm. Participants have the option to stay until 5pm. Weekends are off.

    • Each participant will have an assigned work station, and must obey the Boot Camp Rules, which will be discussed during the orientation session of the Boot Camp.

    • Boot Camp participants must bring their own laptops and all materials (e.g., books, data) that are necessary. These items can be secured in the Grad Center for the duration of Boot Camp.

    • During the orientation session, we will have a rules discussion followed by a group workshop on organization and writing offered by the Weingarten Learning Resources Center. We encourage students to attend one advising session with a WLC Advisor at some point before the boot camp or during the two weeks of Camp.  Students can bring drafts of their work, discuss topic and structure, future publications and work, etc. Weingarten staff will remain available on an on-call basis throughout the program for additional appointments, to help students overcome any habits or problems standing in the way of success.

    • All participants are asked to make a serious commitment to the program. To encourage this sustained commitment, we charge $50 fee to those campers who do not abide by the rules or complete the program.

    • All extenuating circumstances must be documented in writing before the start of Camp. If  your circumstances would cause too much absence or disruption, we will forfeit your seat to another student and refund your supply fee. Please contact gradcenter@upenn.edu if you have any questions regarding this issue before registering. We will discuss pre-noted and emergency absences in detail during the orientation. As a general rule, we suggest that all students make-up their lost time during the afternoon optional time period.

    Questions or Concerns?

    We are happy to explain our policies and discuss the program with you. Please contact us here or call 215-746-6868.