Dissertation Boot Camp

Dissertation Boot Camp Participants

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. 

January 2024 Dissertation Boot Camp

January 8-12, 16-19 (Weekdays only)  
Application opens: November 20
Application deadline:  December 20 | Payment deadline: January 8

Can't make it to Boot Camp? Check out our other writing programs and resources for graduate students. Questions? Contact us here

The Grad Center's Navigating the Academy programs, including Dissertation Boot Camp, are funded in part through a generous grant from GAPSA. Dissertation Boot Camp is co-facilitated by the Grad Center, Weingarten Center, and Provost Graduate Degrees Office.

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.

Program Structure 

We typically hold at least two boot camps each year, corresponding with official university break periods.

Participation is limited to 20 students and includes group meetings, individual writing support, and 3-7 hours of focused writing each day. 

Summer and Winter Boot Camps run for two weeks, with required group meetings and individual writing sessions each weekday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, as well as optional writing sessions from 1:00 to 5:00 PM.

Students must apply in advance and attend all required sessions. 


Participation in Boot Camp requires a $20 program fee. This cost covers basic writing supplies, snacks, and two lunches during the program. Those with significant financial need can request a fee waiver by emailing Grad Center Director Meredith Wooten (mwooten@upenn).

An additional fee of $50 will be charged to participants who fail to comply with program requirements or drop out of the program without advance notice. This fee is charged via the participant's 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 Center to sustain any momentum and writing habits they build during Boot Camp.

How to Apply

All participants must apply in advance. A complete application includes:   

  1. Online application (link will only work during open application cycles).

  2. Submit payment in person at the Graduate Student Center. The $20 payment may be paid by CASH or CHECK only at the main desk in the Grad Center Common Room (first floor). See building hours here

  3. Students selected to participate will be notified on a rolling basis. You will receive additional guidance and are expected to discuss your goals for the program with your dissertation advisor(s).

Students who are selected are expected to attend all required sessions of the Boot Camp.

Requirements and Policies
  • Boot camp meets on weekdays over a two week period.

  • Each day will include required group check-ins and individual writing sessions from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  Participants have the option to stay until 4:30 PM. Weekends are off.

  • Each participant will have an assigned work station, and must follow all Grad Center and 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 Center. We encourage students to attend one advising session with a Weingarten 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 participants 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.